What is Performance Adaptation?

businessman-in-the-office-2-1287062-mThe 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.

The abstract:

Stability and routine are two words that can rarely be used to describe the present-dayjom cover 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.

Click here to read “Performance Adaptation: A Theoretical Integration and Review” from Journal of Management. Make sure to click here to sign up for e-alerts and stay up to date on all the latest from Journal of Management!

Multilevel Research in the Field of Organizational Behavior

Patrícia Lopes Costa, Ana Margarida Graça, Pedro Marques-Quinteiro, Catarina Marques Santos, António Caetano, and Ana Margarida Passos, all of the Instituto Universitário de Lisboa in Portugal, published “Multilevel Research in the Field of Organizational Behavior An Empirical Look at 10 Years of Theory and Research” in SAGE Open. The abstract:

During the last 30 years, significant debate has taken place regarding multilevel research. However, the extent to which multilevel research is overtly practiced remains to be examined. This article analyzes 10 years of organizational research within a multilevel framework (from 2001 to 2011). The goals of this article are (a) to understand what has been done, during this decade, in the field of organizational multilevel research and (b) to suggest new arenas of research for the next SGO_72ppiRGB_150pixWdecade. A total of 132 articles were selected for analysis through ISI Web of Knowledge. Through a broad-based literature review, results suggest that there is equilibrium between the amount of empirical and conceptual papers regarding multilevel research, with most studies addressing the cross-level dynamics between teams and individuals. In addition, this study also found that the time still has little presence in organizational multilevel research. Implications, limitations, and future directions are addressed in the end.

Click here to read more, and follow this link to learn more about SAGE Open, the peer-reviewed open access publication from SAGE Publications.

Time to Reverse the Sustainability Crisis

Editor’s note: The new issue of Organization & Environment (OAE) is now available online! We are delighted to welcome Mark Starik of San Francisco State University and Patricia Kanashiro of George Washington University, who published the lead article, “Toward a Theory of Sustainability Management: Uncovering and Integrating the Nearly Obvious.” Click here to access the full issue free through March 15.

The inspiration for this article was the relentless, continuous, and distressing news about both environmental degradation and socio-economic deprivation that most of us receive on at leaUntitledst a day-to-day basis, which we think should prompt both sustainability academics and practitioners to do something differently in order to help reverse these sustainability crises.  We proposed that, if organization/management theory has any relevance to practice (and, thereby, to results), and, if our current organization/management theories do not appear to be up to the task of assisting in this vital transformation toward sustainability, then new theories of sustainability management apparently need to be developed, considered, tested, and applied.

oaeWe think many sustainability researchers (both academic and non-academic) have “bent over backwards” trying to use traditional organization/management theories to help guide practice for more effective sustainable results, and some of these have been stellar in quality.  But, they do not appear to be providing enough of a positive impact on practice and results to reverse our collective environmental and socio-economic looming catastrophes.

So, our proposed sustainability management theory, which we think is one of many such possibilities, suggests that the more frequently, broadly, deeply, genuinely, competently, and systematically that individuals, organizations, and societies are aware of, think about, and act on sustainability issues, the more likely it is that eventually the results of those actions will be more sustainable  (which we describe as the capacity to advance long-term environmental and socio-economic quality of life) and will be so on a significant scale.  We assert that what we collectively appear to need to move toward, including at the individual, organizational, and societal levels, is to immerse ourselves in the rationales for environmental and socio-economic sustainability and to identify how we can practice effective approaches as often and as widely as possible to make a significant positive sustainability impact.

Regarding the potential for our article to influence future directions in research and practice, our intent was and hope is that the article will generate multiple conversations about the need for sustainability management theories, what these theories might entail that is either similar to or different from ours, and, perhaps most importantly, how any sustainability management theories that are found to be effective can be applied as soon, as widely, and as often as possible.  We welcome all researchers (both academic and practitioner) to develop and test their own theories of sustainability management and to collaborate with one another in evolving those theories and, from local to global levels, in making a substantial, positive sustainability difference.

Click here to read the article, Toward a Theory of Sustainability Management: Uncovering and Integrating the Nearly Obvious,” in the new issue of Organization & Environment (OAE). All articles are available free through March 15. 

starikMark Starik is a professor of management and sustainability and the director of the Center for Ethical and Sustainable Business in the College of Business at San Francisco State University. He researches and teaches in the areas of business environmental and energy management and policy; has consulted with various business, government, and nonprofit organizations; and is a coeditor of Organization & Environment. He holds a doctorate in strategic management from the University of Georgia.

kanashiroPatricia Kanashiro is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Strategic Management and Public Policy in the School of Business of the George Washington University. Her research interests are in sustainability, corporate governance, and business strategies for the poor in developing countries.

Is Workplace Conflict Good or Bad?

Editor’s note: We are pleased to welcome Alice H. Y. Hon of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, whose article “The Effects of Group Conflict and Work Stress on Employee Performance,” co-authored by Wilco W. Chan of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, is forthcoming in Cornell Hospitality Quarterly and now available in the journal’s OnlineFirst section.

In the contemporary business world, teamwork is increasingly important because many organizations feel the need to coordinate their activities more effectively; however, there are considerable challenges to working effectively in teams. One major challenge is conflict, which is the process resulting from stress and tension between team members that arise from the complexity of task relationships, excessive work demands, interpersonal disputes, and the interdependence of organizational life (De Dreu & Weingart, 2003). Early organizational conflict theorists suggested that conflict is detrimental to team effectiveness and organizational functioning (Glazer & Beehr, 2005; Hamilton, Hoffman, Broman, & Rauma, 1993). More recently, researchers have theorized that conflict is beneficial under certain circumstances, and if people perceive the nature of conflict and manage it appropriately (De Dreu & Van de Vliert, 1997; Simons & Peterson, 2000).

CQ_v50n2_72ppiRGB_150pixWAlthough the concepts of team conflict and work stress remain popular today, theories that account for the distinction have not been clearly developed. The present study aims to contribute to the existing literature, and argues that understanding whether the conflict is task-related or relationship-related and whether the work stress is challenge-related or hindrance-related is necessary to evaluate the influence of team conflict and work stress on employee performance. Only by clearly distinguishing these relationships can we provide comprehensive theoretical and practical human resource suggestions to both scholars and managers. We can then confidently assert that conflict associated with certain stressors may result in negative outcomes, whereas conflict associated with other stressors may result in positive outcomes.

Click here to read The Effects of Group Conflict and Work Stress on Employee Performance” in Cornell Hospitality Quarterly.

Alice H. Y. Hon is an assistant professor at the School of Hotel and Tourism Management, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Her research focuses on employee creativity and innovation, intrinsic motivations, leadership, justice and trust, management team, and multilevel issues in service organizations.