The workplace has changed over the last few decades. Workers are now required to continuously accommodate new and challenging situations as they arise. Researchers have been intrigued by this transformation and have written about it from various angles. But what is the big picture of performance adaptation? Authors Samantha K. Baard, Tara A. Rench, and Steve W. J. Kozlowski reviewed existing research to create a conceptual taxonomy of performance adaptation in their paper, “Performance Adaptation: A Theoretical Integration and Review” from Journal of Management.
Stability and routine are two words that can rarely be used to describe the present-day workplace. Instead, individuals, teams, and organizations are required to respond to dynamic and changing situations. As a result, researchers have become increasingly interested in understanding performance adaptation, evident in the substantial growth in research over the past two decades. However, what researchers mean when they study adaptation is often broad, vague, and inconsistent—especially at the organizational level—such that drawing solid conclusions is challenging. To move toward integration, we focused the review on individual and team performance adaptation, where the mechanisms of adaptation can be observed. We developed a conceptual taxonomy to map extant research, provide insights for synthesis, and identify directions for future theory building and research. Specifically, we identify four theoretical approaches: (a) a performance construct, (b) an individual difference construct, (c) a change in performance, and (d) a process. Each perspective is reviewed, identifying definitions and key assumptions; discussing conceptual foundations and empirical findings; and highlighting discrepancies, similarities, and opportunities for synthesis. The discussion recommends useful lines of inquiry for future research. Moreover, to promote individual-, team-, and organizational-level integration, we propose a multilevel conceptual architecture specifying the what (nature), where (levels), and how (mechanisms) of adaptation to better define the nature of the phenomenon. In combination, the taxonomy, review content, and conceptual architecture are designed to enhance conceptual clarity and consistency, encourage integration, and advance theory and research on adaptation as a pervasive phenomenon in organizational science.
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