Organizational Demands on Productivity, Innovations, and Safety

[We’re pleased to welcome author Marianne Törner of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. She recently published an article in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science entitled “Coping With Paradoxical Demands Through an Organizational Climate of Perceived Organizational Support: An Empirical Study Among Workers in Construction and Mining Industry” co-authored by Anders Pousette, Pernilla Larsman, and Sven Hemlin. From Törner:]

Most organJABS_v50_72ppiRGB_powerpoint.jpgizations must be able to combine efficiency, innovativeness, and safe and healthy working conditions, but these demands may appear paradoxical to the employees, and if not handled well by the organization, such paradoxes may create stressful goal conflicts. A large amount of research, not least organizational climate research, has focused on how organizations may promote each one of these goals, but we believe there is a need for research that may help organizations to effectively and simultaneously attain different goals. This was the starting point for this study where we investigated how organizations may support the employees’ ability to reconcile conflicting goals, and thereby promote organizational success as well as employee well-being and sense of worth.

The abstract to their article is below:

Organizational demands on productivity, innovations, and safety may seem paradoxical. How can the organization support employees to cope with such paradox? Based on organizational climate measures of safety, occupational health, innovativeness, and production effectiveness, we explored if a second-order organizational climate could be identified, that was associated with staff safety, health, innovations and team effectiveness, and if such a climate could be represented by an organizational climate of perceived organizational support (POS). Questionnaire data were collected from 137 workgroups in four Swedish companies in construction and mining. Analyses (structural equation modeling) were done at the workgroup level and a split sample technique used to investigate relations between climates and outcomes. A general second-order organizational climate was identified. Also, an organizational climate constructed by items selected to represent POS, was associated with team effectiveness, innovations, and safety. A POS-climate may facilitate employees’ coping with paradoxes, and provide a heuristic for managers in decision making.

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Organization OR Environment?

organization-enviroment[We’re pleased to welcome Jennifer Tosti-Kharas, Assistant Professor at Babson College in Organizational Behavior. Tosti-Kharas recently published an article in Organization & Environment entitled “Organization OR Environment? Disentangling Employees Rationales Behind Organizational Citizenship Behavior for the Environment.” From Tosti-Kharas:]

The origin of this paper came from bridging two different research projects. My co-authors, Tom Thomas and Eric Lamm of SFSU, published a theoretical paper regarding how individuals develop attitudes toward organizational sustainability. Meanwhile, Eric and I have performed research on what motivates employees to perform sustainable behaviors. We look at what we term organizational citizenship behaviors toward the environment ¬ OCB-Es for short ¬ which are voluntary actions at work that help conserve resources, things like recycling, printing double-sided, etc. This paper joined these two streams of inquiry to examine how the reasons why people think it is important to act sustainably at work relates to their performance of OCB-Es and we tested it empirically.

Most past research on this topic has used a measure of how important people think sustainability is in general, meaning for broad ecological reasons, but never contextualized within a work organization. In the paper we distinguish between believing sustainability is important in and of itself, what we term an ³eco-centric rationale,² and believing it is important as a means to an end, specifically a business end, which we term an ³organization-centric rationale.² We also differentiate employees¹ own rationales about why it is important for their companies to operate sustainably from their perceptions about why their organizations believe it is important. Perhaps the most surprising finding when we surveyed 489 working adults across a wide range of organizations and occupations was that people were more likely to perform OCB-Es when they believed their organizations valued sustainability, regardless of their own personal beliefs about the importance of sustainability. These findings held for both eco-centric and organization-centric rationales. This to us was surprising, as lots of research would lead us to predict that personal values would trump perceived organizational values. Yet, we find the opposite, which suggests that perhaps people perform voluntary sustainability behaviors at work not just because they think it¹s important, but because their company believes it is important. It is worth noting that we included in our OCB-E measure not only simple, everyday tasks, but also ³higher-level² behaviors, like collaborating with other employees or making suggestions to supervisors to increase organizational sustainability.

These findings raise several interesting and timely implications for organizational leaders looking to increase employee sustainability behaviors. Since employee perceptions of organizational rationales for sustainability were so important in motivating OCB-Es, we advise communicating corporate values around sustainability and resource conservation as clearly as possible. By contrast, trying to screen employees for pro-environmental values seemed to be less important in a company that clearly communicated these values, since even employees who didn’t buy in on their own behaved more sustainably when they believed their employers cared about the environment.

 

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Is it a ‘home run’ for vertical integration? Organizational Form in Professional Baseball

At first glance, the organizational form of major league and minor league baseball teams may appear straightforward–minor league teams provide training and experience for players, which provides major league teams with a strong recruitment pool. However, a recent paper published in the Journal of Sports Economics by F. Andrew Hanssen, James W. Meehan Jr., and Thomas J. Miceli, entitled “Explaining Changes in Organizational Form: The Case of Professional Baseball,” the authors suggest that the relationship between major league and minor league baseball teams is more dynamic than previously thought.

The abstract for the paper:

In this articleCurrent Issue Cover, we investigate changes over time in the organization of the relationship between Major League Baseball and minor league baseball teams. We develop a model in which a minor league team serves two functions: talent development and local entertainment. The model predicts different modes of organizing the relationship between majors and minors based on the value of these parameters. We then develop a discursive history. Consistent with the model’s predictions, we find that when the value of minor league baseball’s training function was low but the value of its entertainment function was high, major and minor league franchises operated independently, engaging in arms’-length transactions. However, as the training function became more important and the local entertainment function less important, formal agreements ceded control of minor league functions to major league franchises. Finally, as the value of local entertainment rose once again in the late 20th century, the two roles were split, with control of local functions accruing to local ownership and training functions to major league teams. This analysis helps shed light on factors that influence the boundaries of the firm.

 

Charles Snow on the Evolution of Organizations

JLOS_72ppiRGB_powerpoint[We’re pleased to welcome Charles C. Snow of The Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Snow recently published his article entitled “Organizing in the Age of Competition, Cooperation, and Collaboration” in the November issue of  Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies.]

This article describes how organizations have evolved across three periods of modern economic history. The time in which large-scale organizing began in the United States up until the present can be divided into three eras: the age of competition, age of cooperation, and age of collaboration. The article summarizes my research over the last four decades and covers traditional organizational forms such as the functional, divisional, and matrix structure as well as newer forms such as network organizations and collaborative communities of firms. Organizations evolve as they reconfigure their resources and capabilities to pursue new opportunities and overcome existing challenges. Pioneering organizations develop new organization designs that fit the particular circumstances in their sectors, and the new designs diffuse as managers in other sectors adapt the designs to their own organizations. Overall, the result is organizations of greater complexity but also of greater speed and capability.

You can read “Organizing in the Age of Competition, Cooperation, and Collaboration” from Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies by clicking here. Want to know about all the latest news and research from Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies? Just click here to sign up for e-alerts!


ccs4_bioCharles C. Snow is Professor Emeritus of Strategy and Organization at The Pennsylvania State University. He is the Founding Co-editor of the Journal of Organization Design and currently holds visiting professor positions in Norway, Denmark, and Slovenia.

Listen to the Latest Podcast from Human Resource Development Review!

HRDR_72ppiRGB_powerpoint[We’re pleased to welcome Seth A. Jacobson, Jamie L. Callahan, and Rajashi Ghosh, all of Drexel University. They recently discussed their article entitled “A Place at the Window: Theorizing Organizational Change for Advocacy of the Marginalized” in the latest podcast from Human Resource Development Review.]

The broader aim of our work is to theorize organizational change that emphasizes the role of the marginalized. Each of us has an interest in organizational change, and the critical perspective associated with marginalized groups resonated strongly with us as well. The interests of the first author, however, formed the context that gave voice to our collective interest—The Roman Catholic Church, the LGBT community, and the influence of Pope Francis.

Author Seth Jacobson is a gay active Catholic within the Church. The changing rhetoric and tone of Pope Francis on topics related to homosexuality were encouraging to him; but he recognized that those on the front lines of working toward LGBT-friendly changes were still often marginalized. Those individuals were not central to the power structures in the Catholic Church and, while they had meaningful and important roles to play in informing change, their voices were potentially ignored or unnoticed. Seth’s goal, with the support of co-authors Jamie Callahan and Rajashi Ghosh, was to find a more theoretical and systematic way of ensuring that, when we research and seek to understand change processes, we are not neglecting the critical work of the marginalized.

Their work challenges traditional notions of what constitutes an ‘organization’ and opens the door for more explorations of HRD in non-traditional organizations. Following Callahan’s earlier work on social movements as a site for HRD engagement, this work addresses a case of the Roman Catholic Church as a trans-national organization influenced by global social movements advocating for equity of the marginalized. The influence that is manifesting appears to be strengthened by those who have the privilege of ‘insider’ status (resource prototypic, as described in the article) and who empathize with the marginalized (schematically marginal). These individuals think differently than other dominant actors, and yet they have access to the resources of those who hold a ‘place at the table.’ They are able to serve as conduits between the place at the window of the marginalized and the place at the window of the privileged; how they adopt this identity and enact this role is important for progressing our understanding of the marginalized in organizational change processes.

This work is grounded in the concepts of social responsibility and critical theory. It is about challenging and deconstructing a change perspective that largely ignores or under-theorizes the role that marginalized actors can play in advancing change. Change is typically addressed from the perspective of those who hold a place at the traditional ‘table’. However, our approach here recognizes and affirms that marginalized actors have advanced (and can continue to do so) meaningful and significant change from their seemingly constrained positions; in other words, they advance change from a place at the ‘window.’

The window as a metaphor inspires the notion of standing outside, and away from, the core power structures of the organization. And, yet, windows are transparent barriers that can open and provide an opportunity for bounded exchange between the core and the margins. This notion inspired our title, “A Place at the Window: Theorizing Organizational Change for Advocacy of the Marginalized.”

Click here to download the podcast on “A Place at the Window: Theorizing Organizational Change for Advocacy of the Marginalized” from Human Resource Development Review. You can also read the article for free by clicking here.

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PHD-jacobsonSeth A. Jacobson is a PhD Candidate in the School of Education at Drexel University. His research aims to explore resistance, deviance, and change within organizations.

Jamie CallahanJamie L. Callahan is Professor and Program Director of the Human Resource Development Program at Drexel University. Her research applies concepts of learning and development to explore issues of power and privilege in relation to leadership, emotion management and organization contextual issues (e.g., organizational learning, organizational culture, communities of practice).

Rajashi-GhoshRajashi Ghosh is an Associate Professor in the HRD program in the School of Education at Drexel University. Her research aims to explore different factors (e.g., mentoring, coaching, workplace incivility) that can reinforce or hinder workplace learning and development.

Gerstner, König, Enders, and Hambrick (2013). CEO Narcissism, Audience Engagement, and Organizational Adoption of Technological Discontinuities

[We’re pleased to welcome Johnathan Cromwell and Michael Lee, both of Harvard Business School. Jonathan and Michael recently had the opportunity to interview the authors of “CEO Narcissism, Audience Engagement, and Organizational Adoption of Technological Discontinuities” from Administrative Science Quarterly.]

Republished with permission. The original post was published on the ASQ Blog.

Authors:
Wolf-Christian Gerstner – University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
Andreas König – University of Passau
Albrecht Enders – IMD International
Donald C. Hambrick – The Pennsylvania State University

Interviewers:
Johnathan Cromwell – Harvard Business School
Michael Lee – Harvard Business School

Question 1. One of the aspects about this paper that we found so fascinating was that it integrated two sets of literatures in a way ASQ_v60n2_Jun2014_cover.inddthat hadn’t been done before. We can imagine that while this leads to highly novel and interesting research, it can also add additional challenges during the review process. Were there any specific challenges that you had to overcome during the review process in communicating your research to these different audiences?

This is, in fact, a very good question, and something that one should always be aware of when integrating two streams of research. In a way, doing so is in and of itself a discontinuous change because it means applying a new theoretical lens to an already studied phenomenon, with potentially challenging epistemological and theoretical contradictions. However, in our case, we were lucky because, although the upper echelons literature and the literature on discontinuous change have not yet been integrated to a great extent by previous studies, the theoretical assumptions underlying these two fields and the foci of their analyses are highly compatible and complementary. In particular, the discontinuous change literature has always had a top executive view on strategic decision making, which stems from the fact that decisions in turbulent times are typically top management decisions. As such, it was somewhat intuitive to envision that CEO narcissism has a stake in decisions about technology adoption in large companies.

Question 2. We were struck by the amount of work that was put into constructing the main independent variable on CEO narcissism. If students were interested in testing a different cognitive attribute or personality characteristic to explain organizational decisions, how would you recommend trying to measure them? What might be a common mistake that we should try to avoid?

Of course, gathering the data on CEO narcissism involved a lot of meticulous work, in particular because we had to collect data from years back, even before 1980. To get access to these sources, which can’t just be downloaded from an online database, we ended up having to visit places like the Chicago Public Library and order microfiche copies. However, we benefited greatly from the fact that the measure itself had already been developed by Chatterjee and Hambrick (2007).

As for measuring other CEO attributes, we see numerous new opportunities for further research. In particular, new ways of using language, voice, and body language are emerging, which might just allow us to gauge numerous facets of personality, both stable traits and more transient states. For instance, at the Academy of Management last year in Philadelphia, we organized a symposium on the use of content analysis to further advance this area of upper echelons research. The diverse approaches presented there included aspects such as perceptions of time and cognitive structures as reflected in conceptual metaphors. Moving forward, we believe it is pivotal to focus on aspects of executive personality that are influential, but whose influence, at the same time, is not unilateral but rather dependent on context. This is surely one of the features that make narcissism so interesting to study (apart from the fact that almost everyone who has worked in an organization has experienced working with a narcissist, with all its upsides and downsides).

Question 3. We usually think of the discussion section as a place to interpret results, discuss strengths and weaknesses of analysis, or discuss broader implications of the research. We found the discussion section in this paper to be interesting, because it also introduced new quantitative analyses to help support the main findings of the paper. Why were these included in the discussion instead of as a robustness check in the results section?

That is an interesting question, particularly because there seem to be different perspectives on such post-hoc analyses. Some colleagues do not think they should be part of a paper; conversely, others, including ourselves, believe that these elaborations illuminate interesting aspects and add to the liveliness and granularity of the research presented. Note also that, in our case, the post-hoc discussion is not a robustness check but rather an exploration of the reasons why we did not find significant results for our last hypothesis.

Question 4. Given your interesting findings, what do you feel are the most important implications for managerial practice from this work?

It’s indeed interesting to see how executives respond when we present our findings and related findings made by colleagues. What resonates most profoundly with decision makers is the idea that narcissistic leaders have both a dark side and a bright side, and that the bright side might in fact be most salient in times of radical change when tough decisions need to be made. Another aspect they can relate to is our recommendation to be more aware of how external stimuli, including from the media, affect how decision makers and their organizations act. These insights are also – and perhaps most importantly – crucial for board members of companies that “missed the boat” on disruptive innovations (that the board believes will pan out) and need to catch up. In this case, a narcissistic CEO might, ceteris paribus, be an advantage as she or he will drive change on a larger scale than less a narcissistic CEO.

Question 5. Is there anything about this paper that you think is particularly interesting that we didn’t ask about? Please tell us about it.

Thank you for asking! One thing that we think is particularly important is the role of audience engagement in spurring company behavior, especially responses to innovation. While there is increasing debate about how companies’ communication and actions shape the responses of stakeholders such as analysts and journalists, we still know too little about how pressures from these stakeholders affect company behavior. This is especially the case in the context of innovation, which happens in a social environment that surrounds companies and their executives and might influence technological trajectories more than we have previously thought.

Evolution of Organizations

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(Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons)

How did organizations become what they are today? Charles C. Snow of the Pennsylvania State University discusses the development of organizations throughout modern history in his scholarly essay entitled “Organizing in the Age of Competition, Cooperation, and Collaboration” from Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies.

The abstract:

JLOS_72ppiRGB_powerpointThe purpose of this article is to describe how organizations have evolved across three periods of modern economic history. These periods can be called the age of competition, age of cooperation, and age of collaboration. The major organizational forms that appeared in each of the three eras, including their capabilities and limitations, are discussed.

You can read “Organizing in the Age of Competition, Cooperation, and Collaboration” from Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know about all the latest research like this from Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies? Click here to sign up for e-alerts!