Organizational Dynamics

Published by Elsevier
Print ISSN: 0090-2616
Blake and Mouton use an actual case of a successful merger to show how their Interface Conflict-Solving Model, based on behavioral science principles, can be used to achieve integration. The authors outline the history of the two organizations, give illustrations of the kinds of changes that were necessary to more from the actual state of affairs within each organization to the conditions needed for synergy, and explain how the merging organizations collaborated to develop a model for the interface. The merger is evaluated from the perspective of what happened during the two years following the merger. Blake and Mouton also elaborate on the dynamics of group behavior that they took into consideration in designing the Interface Conflict-Solving Model: the effects of group members' shared history; the natural tensions that typically exist between groups that have a functional relationship and misperceptions and distortions that arise as a result of these tensions; and win-lose competitiveness instead of a win-win mentality as a shared expectation. Finally, the authors show how shared participation can overcome inappropriate and debilitating competition.
Drawing on cultural anthropology, Sathe develops a way of thinking about corporate culture that makes the concept analytically useful for dealing with managerial problems. He shows that by distinguishing between culture and behavior, and examining both simultaneously, it is possible to see more clearly why culture can be both an asset and a liability, and why it has such a subtle but powerful influence on organizational life. Not all cultures are equally powerful, however; Sathe presents some approaches for diagnosing a culture and understanding its strengths along with some implications for managerial action. Noting that a "perfect" culture-person fit is difficult to engineer, he makes suggestions for avoiding such mismatches and for better managing the culture shocks that inevitably hit the newcomer to an organization. He then turns to the question of how culture/person misfits may be understood and managed and what it takes to successfully deviate from the organization's culture when one is required to do so.
This article attempts to summarize what is known about the underlying causes of problems experienced with performance appraisal and to suggest some means for overcoming these. The central thrust has been to find means for dealing with the main barrier to effective appraisals—that is, avoidance by the supervisor and defensiveness from the subordinate. We have suggested a number of ways in which supervisors and subordinates might negotiate the difficult dilemma of discussing an evaluation of performance in a nonevaluative manner.
Up to now managers could find little evidence to support the idea that the organization's culture has an impact on its bottom-line performance. To remedy this, Denison draws on survey and performance data from 34 large corporations to show that those that have participative cultures experience better performance than those that do not. This difference in performance appears to have widened over the five years that these firms were studied. The results also hold up when the performance measures for each firm (return on investment and return on sales) are compared with those of their competitors. Denison suggests that this comparative approach to the study of organizational culture provides a way to capture the impact that culture has on organizational performance. This strategy, he argues, also provides a way of diagnosing organizations and measuring the ways in which human resources management, organizational culture, and management practices do, in fact, contribute to the success of business organizations.
Building on research and writing in the fields of career management and mentor relationships, Baird and Kram analyze the superior-subordinate relationship as an exchange to which each party brings different needs and resources. They point out that this relationship can be productive and satisfying--both for the parties concerned and for the organization--when the needs of one party match the resources of the other. The article includes a checklist for analyzing how the superior-subordinate relationship operates as an exchange and how the resources of the parties mesh or fail to mesh. They do on to show how the superior-subordinate relationship and the needs of the parties change as each moves through individual career and life cycles. What was once a productive relationship may, in time, become unproductive, or vice versa. In any event, its dynamic nature requires that it be managed. Baird and Kram suggest five steps for managing the relationship as it moves through these changes: (1) Recognizing that the relationship is an exchange; (2) identifying clearly one's own as well as the other party's needs; (3) understanding how the subordinate's and boss's needs fit together and recognizing that the relationship is likely to change; (4) understanding the constraints under which the boss operates; (5) establishing a feedback and evaluation process for continuously assessing the relationship.
A controller has two apparently contradictory responsibilities: (1) the management service responsibility of ensuring that specialist knowledge and expertise get proper consideration when business decisions and actions are taken, and (2) the custodial and monitoring responsibility of ensuring the accuracy of financial reporting and the integrity of internal control. The apparent contradiction is that the first responsibility requires active involvement in management while the second calls for a sense of independence from affiliated management. Sathe stresses that "strong" controllers overcome this dilemma by developing certain interpersonal skills. Such "strong" controllers thus have access to sensitive information and deliberations in progress--an access that permits them to take before-the-fact actions that stop ill-conceived, ill-advised, or illegal decisions before they are taken. A controller who is not actively involved in decision making is not privy to such information and can exert only after-the-fact or reactive control. However, the costs of operating with a strong controller must be weighed against the potential benefits and compared with the benefits of alternate approaches.
The turbulent economic, political, and cultural forces of the 1980s have made the management of strategic change increasingly a way of life for organizations. To manage such change, managers will have to confront basic questions about the organization's technical, political, and cultural foundations. The technical questions include: What business(es) should we be in? How should we be organized to accomplish our strategy? What kinds of people do we need, and how will they be acquired, developed, and rewarded? The political questions include: Who gets to influence the mission and strategy of the organization? Who gets promoted to what key positions? The cultural questions: What values and beliefs are necessary to support the organization's strategy? What subcultures are desirable, and should there be an overarching corporate culture? The author suggests that the answers for an individual organization should cluster to form three strands of a strategic rope--that is, they must be interwoven and mutually supportive for the organization to be effective. He sees human resources management as the focal point of much of strategic change likely to occur in organizations during the 1980s.
The amount of information that should be processed to reach a rational solution is so vast that it overwhelms our limited memory and analytic capacity. To grapple at all with real problems, we must shrink them to mind size. As Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon has suggested, we must learn to "satisfice." Using examples and a case history of managerial succession, Agnew and Brown demonstrate the importance of nonrational factors in decision making. "Skyhooks," their first major concept, are composed of an individual's strong beliefs and biases that appear almost as acts of faith without any obvious foundation. They help the exceptional executive operate on a limited set of alternatives. But while skyhooks give direction, they do not provide the means to reach a destination. Simpler conceptual models, or "walking sticks," are necessary to cover the rocky trails. Agnew and Brown offer four walking sticks that can be applied to managerial succession problems. The first walking stick considers executive decision making in three parts--nonrational, semirational, and rational--and covers the conditions in which each component comes into play. The second helps examine human resources as fixed or fluid and as assets or liabilities to develop a schema for manpower accounting in executive succession. Playing vs. talking a good executive game is the topic for walking stick three. The concern here is to distinguish the real players--who can manage systems--from the mere talkers, who can manage only fragments of systems. The fourth walking stick draws on the law of resource gravitation and crystallization, a law with implications for trainers: You can't fashion management training to fit all comers; instead, you must tailor it to what the trainees already are and know.
Summary of organizational intervention components, goals and outcomes.
Intervention stages and activities distributed over 4 months. (a, Only in information technology industry; b, Only in health care industry.)
For decades, leaders and scholars have been advocating change efforts to improve work-life relationships. Yet most initiatives have lacked rigor and not been developed using scientific principles. This has created an evidence gap for employer support of work and personal life as a win-win for productivity and employees' well-being. This paper examines the approach used by the U.S. Work Family Health Network (WFRN) to develop an innovative workplace intervention to improve employee and family health. The change initiative was designed to reduce organizationally based work-family conflict in two contrasting contexts representative of major segments of today's U.S. workforce: health care employees and informational technology professionals. The WFRN Intervention (called STAR) had three theoretically based change elements. They were: 1) increase job control over work time and schedule; 2) increase supervisor social support for family and job effectiveness; and 3) improve organizational culture and job design processes to foster results orientation. Seven practical lessons for developing work-life interventions emerged from this groundbreaking endeavor.
There are two reasons that current corporate efforts to achieve employee "participation" often seem fragile and temporary: unrealistic expectations about the appropriate use of participation and a failure to manage participation efforts for maximum success. Participation is most appropriate when, for example, expertise is diffused, issues are controversial, problems cut across existing roles, or the development of people is desired; autonomy and individual responsibility may be more appropriate under the opposite conditions. Kanter discusses six sets of dilemmas that must be resolved to ensure that participating teams work effectively for the organization: dilemmas around initiation, structure, issue choice, teamwork, links between teams and their environment, and evaluation/continuation. Kanter concludes that participation works best when it is well managed. Participation is best viewed not as a permanent "program" or a "formula" but as temporary episodes of high involvement alternating with a more routine everyday structure.
The values that quality of work life (QWL) has brought to the workplace are in danger of being lost, say authors Nadler and Lawler; to avert this danger, they debunk several "definitions" of the concept that miss the point, give it a precise definition, and spell out ways to use it successfully. They delineate six factors that they believe separate more successful from less successful QWL efforts. The first success factor is a perception of need--that is, in successful efforts organization members actually perceive a problem. Second, the problem is salient to the organization. Third, a structure for participation is created. Fourth, rewards are provided both for the processes and for the outcomes of QWL activities. Fifth, multiple levels of management are involved. And, finally, QWL involves all organization members in a way that avoids "we-they" rivalries. With these factors in mind, the authors conclude that three major components of QWL efforts must be managed well if they are to succeed: (1) development of projects at different levels; (2) changes in management systems and structure; and (3) changes in senior management behavior--that is, if the QWL effort is to be credible to organization members, there must be some specific, tangible QWL activity in which senior managers participate.
Sashkin presents a model of participative management and contends that when value biases are absent and the need for skillful application and management are taken into account, participative management is effective. When properly implemented, participative management fulfills three basic human work needs--the need for autonomy or control over one's behavior, the need for completion or achievement of a whole task, and the need for interpersonal contact in the context of work. Failure to fulfill these needs can have serious consequences: Employees may be harmed both psychologically and physically. Thus organizations may be killing their employees--but not with kindness. Sashkin argues that it is unethical to manage in any way but participatively if one adheres to the fundamental values of Western civilization. Thus participative management is an ethical imperative. With this in mind, he provides some action guidelines for managers, organizations, and management educators.
To find the key to the success of Japanese economic performance since World War II, Marsland and Beer explore five main "environmental" factors used by Japanese firms to build a successful human resources management approach: Japanese social values, the structure of private enterprise, the structure of labor markets, the historic development of the Japanese employment system, and the structure of Japanese management. This discussion shows that post-war Japanese management, faced with rapid change, introduced new concepts and techniques that reinforced and maintained certain social values and traditions that fit well with human resources management objectives. This skillful blend of new ideas with traditional values enabled the Japanese to achieve superior economic performance.
The principal value of studying the Japanese managerial system, according to Zussman, lies not in the prospect of copying it or of finding secrets for success, but in our ability to identify the relationship between the material resource position of an economy and the managerial systems that will be most effective in it. Zussman briefly discusses the historical development of the Japanese response to their resource-poor homeland and the principles they identified for success through the utilization of human resources--the one resource they had in abundance. He also cites the United States's historical response to its resource position as a source of our present economic difficulties. He contends that the structural changes required to cure our economic woes include eliminating the "entitlement" culture, developing better processes for employee selection, utilizing nonmonetary rewards, and adopting different criteria for selection and promotion of managers.
Rufus Miles has suggested that where you stand depends on where you sit. But the converse may also be true with regard to your acceptance of his six other maxims: Where you sit may depend on where you stand--that is, on whether you accept the truth of these maxims.
Traditionally, medical treatment in this country has focused on treatment of problems and illness after they've reached the point of crisis and pain. But now, managers are beginning to realize that preventive health and stree management can save money for the organization while improving the quality of worklife for employees.
To help carry out their responsibility of managing rapid and often unexpected change, managers have an available set of techniques: organizational behavior modification, management by objectives, management development, organization development, management auditing, and a control cycle of planning, implementation, and control. Each of these has a format that species the procedures to be followed to bring about organizational change. Michael emphasizes that such formats are preferable to a haphazard, trial-and-error approach that may produce unanticipated results. In part because some techniques are newer than others, data from a research project of planning and control that Michael conducted show different rates of usage by a sample of Fortune 500 companies. The control cycle is the most widely used; organizational behavior modification the least widely used. The use of these techniques of organizational change is likely to vary in some ways and experience may bring about changes in the techniques. Michael concludes that the newer breed of managers who are versed in the social sciences, mathematics, and the computer are likely to spread new techniques in the organizational world.
Vaill maintains that clarifying an organization's purposes is a prominent feature of all high-performing systems (HPSs). He defines HPSs as human systems that are doing dramatically better than other systems as measured by one or more criteria. Ten years' research on such systems is summarized in eight broad categories: (1) clarity of purposes, (2) member motivation, (3) teamwork, (4) leadership, (5) technology and innovation, (6) boundedness from the environment, (7) relationship to the environment, and (8) the unique ways in which the system "jells." HPSs are treated as unusually fertile settings for understanding how leaders of human systems engage in what is called "purposing"--a continuous stream of actions that has the effect of inducing clarity, consensus, and commitment regarding the organization's basic purposes. The article explores the personal qualities that enable HPS leaders to define and maintain a clear sense of purpose among all systems members. Three major characteristics are ascribed to such leaders: (1) the willingness to invest large amounts of time in the system, both in the sense of hour-to-hour and day-to-day time and in the sense of year-to-year and even decade-to-decade time; (2) the ability to develop and express deep feeling about the system, its purposes, the people in it, its history, and its future; and (3) the ability to focus on the issues and variables in the system that really make a difference in its performance. This is the Time-Feeling-Focus theory of HPS leadership.
Two fundamentally different approaches to theory, research, and to the practice of leadership point in opposite and mutually contradictory directions. Because both cannot be valid, a controversy has arisen as to whether leadership should be conceived of as being contingent upon the situation or whether there is one most effective style for all situations. In the first case, the leader changes behavior to fit the situation. In the second, the leader changes the situation to bring it into line with sound principles of behavior as these are emerging in the behavioral sciences.
No organization can afford to be—or admit to be—an organization that isn't interested in learning. Yet many continue not to make learning a priority required for long-term success. Perhaps one test of an organization's commitment to learning would be the degree to which its executives and managers recognize the following statement, developed by the Center for Managerial Learning and Business Simulation:
The demand for services provided by a telecommunications firm dropped sharply during the 1979 recession. The company had no history of layoffs. Because it was in a regulated industry and its rate-of-return was guaranteed, the firm was buffered from many of the usual uncertainties associated with declining demand. In spite of its secure position, history, and reputation, top management made a decision to respond quickly to the downturn and lay off 100 employees. Perhaps the layoffs were intended to be a symbolic gesture, since the number of people affected was very small relative to the total number of employees. If this was the company's intention, the impact was grossly miscalculated. Because of the unwise timing of the layoffs, they caused widespread disaffection. Employee morale and confidence in top management plummeted. The event gained in infamy, and in the corridors and washrooms of corporate headquarters it became known as the “Christmas Eve Massacre”.
What are the advantages to managers in using the design decision tree? There appear to be several: 1.1. It provides a broad framework for identifying the key factors a manager should think about in considering an organizational design. For example: What is our environment? What different structural options do we have?2.2. It forces the manager to diagnose the decision environment. What is our environment like? How stable is it? How complex is it? Is it possible to reduce complexity by segmenting the environment into product or geographical subgroups?3.3. It causes managers to think about how much interdependence there is among segments of the organization. How dependent on one another are different parts of the organization in terms of technology, services, support, help in getting their tasks completed? The decision points in the heuristic forces managers to questions themselves about what other parts of the organization they need to coordinate their activities with, and then to think about how to do it.4.4. Once the organization is in either a functional or decentralized structure, the decision tree points out what can be done to meet the increased needs for information through the use of lateral relations. Lateral relations provide a mechanism for supplementing the existing structure to facilitate dealing with the organization's increased needs for information and coordination.Managers in a variety of organizations have commented that the decision tree gives them “… a handle for thinking about organizational design so we can tinker with it, fine tune it and make it work better. We don't have to be coerced by structure. We now have a better feel for when certain structures should be used and for the specific steps we can take to make a given structure work.”
This article has shown how principles and practices of strategic management and organization development can be integrated to enhance an organizations long-term performance. Specific OD concepts and practices apparently do much to improve the quality of strategic decision-making processes and to create the conditions for successful implementation of those decisions. However, there are some fundamental barriers to full integration of these two disciplines. Differences in values, knowledge, and skills, and in actual outcomes present difficult challenges that must be overcome if greater integration is to be achieved. Strategic managers must become more sensitive to and skilled in dealing with the human elements of change; this can come about only through broader formal education and experience. Organization development practitioners must also enlarge their knowledge base; however, they will also need to resolve the conflict between traditional OD values and the values of top management, particularly those involving profitability and the uses of power and politics.There is some indication that broader perspectives and more integrative experiences are developing among managers and OD practitioners; however, some individuals may never reconcile the basic value conflicts we have identified. Indeed, effective integration may only occur in firms with core values that are consistent with those of OD.I believe that firms with strategic managers who incorporate OD practices into their activities will be more disposed to meet the challenges of an increasingly dynamic business world.
This paper introduces a fresh phenomenon, that of "career entrepreneurship," which we argue is becoming increasingly adopted by individuals in order for them to succeed in the contemporary, global world of work. At its core, career entrepreneurship involves breaking widely accepted assumptions about careers in terms of age, level of education, gender, life stage, cultural or socio-economic background, etc. This behavior also involves the pursuit of opportunities in one's career beyond the resources perceived to be directly controlled by or accessible to other career actors. The paper begins by examining how this concept relates to other career and related behavioral phenomena. Next, it examines the career investments career entrepreneurs make in order to succeed. Among these are doing what others do not dare to do, using unusual connections, going for new fields and operating in transitional environments. The paper concludes by offering a set of research propositions which can guide further development of the concept. They include the relationships between career entrepreneurship and (a) career success, (b) life-stages, and (c) contexts.
The authors report on their two-year study of successful transnational teams, in which they examined how such teams are designed and managed to help their firms pursue global business strategies. Based on this study, they present a comprehensive model of team effectiveness that includes the key characteristics differentiating a transnational team from other types of work teams. The model shows how transnational teams operate—how they are staffed and led, communicate across great distances, and cope with cross-cultural issues. In closing, they describe how a company's human resources department can help an “international” or “multinational” team become a “transnational” team—one that has successfully transcended the cultural, geographic, and managerial barriers to team effectiveness.
As General Electric's chief learning officer, Steve Kerr has been intimately involved with Jack Welch's efforts to bring a new competitive vitality to GE. Here, Kerr talks about the ideas in his latest book, The Boundarytess Organization (co-authored with Ron Ashkenas, Dave Ulrich, and Todd Jick). That book (and many of the programs underway at GE) is based on the idea that any organization has boundaries—between departments, between levels of management, and between the company and its customers and suppliers. These boundaries block information and frustrate quick responses to market needs. Kerr tells how GE's initiatives help cut through the barriers. For example, GE's famous “workout” programs (group meetings aimed at eliminating low-value work and bureaucracy) have now become a way of life, and workouts with customers and suppliers have created closer, more effective working relationships. The 360-degree appraisal system has been instrumental in cracking the barriers between levels of management. Learning activities at GE's Crotonville leadership education center have spread best practices across division boundaries. The next boundary to cross, says Kerr, is international—the barriers separating operations in the global market.
Taking a cultural approach to understanding diverse, productive work situations revealed a common structure associated with getting work done. A culture of productivity does exist, and it accomplishes the work of the organization. Particular instances of that culture can be understood in terms of the five elements that are used to organize experience and inform action: types of people, team-work, the work structure, the person in charge, and the management. The quality and strength of the culture can be understood in terms of its legibility, coherence, and open-endedness.The structures that we have found can serve as a map for the findings of the particulars that give rise to productivity in any specific setting. It is those particulars, the unique, inherent excellence found in any organization, that are the foundation and guide for improvement.From our study, we have concluded that productivity occurs when management, supervisors, and workers focus primarily on the work being done and on how things go right. Enriched with this cultural understanding, the manager is in a position not only to find a culture of productivity but also to be an agent in enhancing it.
The innovating organization described is one that recognizes and formalizes the roles, processes, rewards, and people practices that naturally lead to innovations. The point we have emphasized throughout this article is that the organization that purposely designs these roles and processes is more likely to generate innovations than is an organization that doesn't plan for this function. Such a purposely designed organization is needed to overcome the obstacles to innovation. Because innovation is destructive to many established groups, it will be resisted. Innovation is contrary to operations and will be ignored. These and other obstacles are more likely to be overcome if the organization is designed specifically to innovate.Managers have tried to overcome these obstacles by creating venture groups, by hiring some entrepreneurs, by creating “breakthrough funds,” or by offering special incentives. These are good policies but by themselves will not accomplish the goal. Figure 1 conveyed the message that a consistent set of policies concerning structure, process, rewards, and people are needed. The innovating organization is illustrated in Figure 7. It is the combination of idea people, reservations in which they can operate, sponsors to supervise them, funding for their ideas, and rewards for their success that increase the odds in favor of innovation. Simply implementing one or two of these practices will result in failure and will only give people the impression that such practices do not work. A consistent combination of such practices will create an innovating organization that will work.
This article has presented a general approach for thinking about organizational functioning and a process for using a model to analyze organizational problems. This particular model is only one way of thinking about organizations; its clearly not the only model, nor can we claim it's definitively the best model. It is one tool, however, that may be useful for structuring the complexity of organizational life and helping managers create, maintain, and develop effective organizations.
In this article a model for identifying organizational styles is presented. Such a typology has been found to be repetitive as a pattern in a significant number or organizations and it has been verified by hundreds of executives as reflecting their experience.The model enables an organization to foresee the problems it will face as it grows over time. Furthermore, it provides tools for prescribing effective organizational treatments-organizational therapy and surgery. It is a contingency model in that it presents a framework for prescribing the treatments most likely to be effective depending on the lifecycle stage of the organization.
To recapitulate briefly, I believe that the basis for most of the problems we have with merit pay plans is the fact that the great majority of people think their own job performance is above average. Even a well-administered merit pay plan cannot give positive feedback to this majority. The consequence is likely to be that the individual's self-esteem is threatened. Too often one copes with such a threat by demeaning the importance of the job or by derogating the source—that is, disparaging the boss or management in general.In addition, merit pay emphasizes the direct relationship between job performance and dollar rewards, thereby detracting from intrinsic motivation in the work itself. A system that would switch the emphasis to rewards for self-development and opportunities for greater responsibility would seem to serve both individual and organizational goals in a more effective manner.
Despite a pervasive belief that the world’s largest firms compete globally, the vast majority have most of their sales in their home region. Of the top 500 firms for which regional sales data are available, 118 are from Europe, and they compete predominantly within the European region. On average, 62.8% of their sales are in their home region; only three are global, 8 are host-region oriented and 16 are bi-regional, while 86 are home-region based. To illustrate the four categories, we present case studies of 9 European multinationals — Carrefour, TotalFinaElf, Deutsche Bank, Nokia, Philips, GlaxoSmithKline, L’Oréal Paris, Diageo,and AstraZeneca. We analyze the geographical distribution of their operations and their current structure. We also show that management research is strongly focusedon the special cases of global and bi-regional firms, rather than on the large majority of home-region firms. This implies that managing in the new Europe needs tobe regional, not global.
This experiment represents a first step in the development of ongoing feedback systems as useful managerial tools. Additional research and testing of systems is needed. The results of this first experiment, however, are encouraging and indicate that if used effectively, such systems have the potential of improving organizational performance while also having a positive effect on employee attitudes. A consistent theme in the experiment has been that feedback systems are managerial tools, and are thus constrained in their value by the knowledge, skill, and motivation of those who use them. Wherever that knowledge, skill, and motivation exist or have been developed, the system appears to produce durable and positive changes, in a number of different work units, at a reasonable cost, and without the constant intervention of consultants. Thus the ongoing feedback system appears to meet the basic criteria for an effective and useful managerial tool and holds promise as a means for building more effective organizations.
Management is one of the few professions, the authors note, in which members have no formal “rehearsal space” for honing their skills. In response to this need, organizations such as The Center for Creative Leadership, MIT's Learning Center, and The Stern School of Business at New York University have created a brave new world of management simulations—“practice fields” for the learning organization. Some of these new games (“simuworlds”) use computer programs to replicate an entire industry and give participants an opportunity to play out one company's strategy in that setting. Other simulations (“microworlds”) engage participants in complex behavioral role playing, based on scenarios that typically develop within a company. Still other simulations combine both approaches. The authors take their point of departure from Peter Senge's definition of the “learning barriers” that develop in any organization: solving fragmented “problems” rather than dealing with systemic issues; overemphasis on competition at the expense of cooperation; and a failure to innovate until forced to do so. The new simulations, the authors argue, are particularly useful in helping managers learn how to overcome these barriers.
When the focus of technology is on automation, it may be reasonable to have training programs that merely teach workers the objects and actions necessary for them to respond to smart machines. However, as the OTA report clearly points out, “There is uncertainty about how current instructional programs should be revised or expanded. …” This uncertainty comes from the informating function of the technology. As one manager said: “Our competition can buy the same black boxes that we can. Our future depends on how well our people use the information generated by that technology.”When the informating quality of the technology is recognized, the importance of smart people becomes apparent. Traditional training, with its focus on objects and actions, is not enough. In the informated environment, on-line, interactive learning is necessary if people are to create new meanings out of the information generated by computer technology.A pedagogy for meaning is a collective enterprise that can unleash individual and organizational energy in an informated work place. It has implications for (1) rethinking traditional worker-training and management-education programs, (2) transforming the work place into a learning environment, (3) reconceptualizing the roles of workers and managers so that they can become partners in creating meaning, and (4) designing rewards for people who create and participate in an environment of inquiry.A pedagogy for meaning is concerned with peoples learning how to learn. A work force that has learned how to learn is one of the most important competitive levers an organization can have in an environment of ongoing technological change.
KBP is an innovative compensation approach wiyh some important advantages for both workers and management. It is growing in use, but there is still not much information available to guide managers who want to use it. Our research suggests that each KBP implementation is idiosyncratic. At CARCO, each of the several plants using KBP designed its own KBP plan. They had very little information upon which they could draw. Likewise, at CONCO the plant manager and other key executives set out the philosophy and structure of KBP with very little guidance, except some discussion with one manager who had some experience with it. At this time, each application of KBP must be individually worked out with respect to such issues as the method of evaluation for pay advancement, the levels at which pay increases ought to be granted, and ways to provide opportunities for skill advancement. There are other areas that we need to know more about: •⊎ Under what conditions should an organizationwide or job-circle KBP approach be implemented?•⊎ How does the relationship between the range of skills and the range of pay affect performance and satisfaction?•⊎ When job circles are used, what guides should be used for grouping jobs into KBP classes?•⊎ How does the size of an organization and the range of task variety relate to KBP plans?•⊎ How do organizational and pay system differences affect practices such as rotation and participation?KBP is an interesting and potentially useful approach to compensation. We have suggested some approaches to these issues in this article, but we all need to know more about it.
Standing ''at the head of the class'' in today's global economy are the rapid learners-organizations that have transformed themselves in the face of technological change, fragmented markets, and fierce competition. These organizations exemplify what is know as ''generative learning,'' a style that differs markedly from the adaptive learning habits characteristic of most companies. Based on their observations of corporations that practice generative learning (Whirlpool, IBM, and Taco Bell, among others), the authors identify the organizational characteristics and management practices that set such companies apart. Managers in these firms seek new forms of experiences, insights, and perspectives; their organizations encourage experimentation, risk-taking, openness, and system-wide thinking. In contrast, adaptive corporations focus on prior successes and use these as the basis for developing future strategies and products. Clearly, the authors argue, there is pressing need for organizations to learn new ways to learn.
What does it all mean? We've reviewed five studies involving almost 2,000 people compared on a total of 43 scales. We've studied matched pairs and controlled for level of managerial achievement. And after all is said and done, we have detected a total of two overall differences between male and female managers. One of these, involving managerial work motivation, favors females: Their work motivation profiles are more “achieving” than those of their male counter-parts. The other difference, pertaining to interpersonal competence, favors the male managers: They are more open and candid with their colleagues than are females. Add to these the more titillating than significant anomalies of differing back-up style preferences and we are left with one conclusion: Women, in general, do not differ from men, in general, in the ways in which they administer the management process.Managers themselves and their subordinates concur. It seems that the disproportionately low numbers of women in management can no longer be explained away by the contention that women practice a different brand of management from that practiced by men. Whereas this may amount to good news in some quarters, we ought not be prematurely elated by discovering that women manage just the way men do. Carolyn Sherif has pointedly called attention to the fact that all is not necessarily well in today's male-oriented management activities.We of course view management in its more global aspects: The important issue to us is how an individual manages in relation to achievement criteria. Individual achievement and organizational health ultimately depend on the way management is practiced. And we now see that the way management is practiced is not related to the sex of the manager — the issue is generic rather than gender-bound.
The management of organizational change is a challenging task in any context. When events create a situation in which the future is uncertain, the task becomes even more difficult. In this article, I have tried to explore this difficulty, building on the views expressed by Charles Brown in the accompanying interview and using AT&T as a case in point.Although the nature of the problems inherent in managing transition to uncertain futures has become clearer, the solutions have not. What has been presented here is merely a first attempt at proposing some basic approaches for dealing with such situations. As such, it is an effort to extend our knowledge about how to manage organizational change effectively.
The German automotive industry continues to struggle against increasingly adverse conditions—pampered workers, inefficient production techniques, and a strong currency that threatens to price cars out of the market. Enter an unlikely competitor-General Motor's Opel subsidiary in Eisenach, in the former German Democratic Republic. Designed as a unique experiment, the recreated plant combines a lean production system, cellular assembly, flexible working arrangements, learning opportunities, and teamwork to create a high-productivity workplace. Interviews with workers at Opel Eisenach show that this approach has a profound impact on worker motivation. The plant produced 160,000 cars in 1995, a remarkable accomplishment that has caught the attention of the entire European auto industry.
Argues that technology management must go beyond a strategic approach to be a source of sustainable competitive advantage. The execution paradigm (EXP) builds on the strategic framework to find a sustainable competitive advantage through superior technology acquisition and deployment. Under EXP, organizations will continuously refine their abilities to acquire and deploy relevant technologies that are already an integral part of corporate strategies. Instead of focusing on specific technologies to gain a competitive advantage, attention will be directed on the capabilities of an organization. The sustainable competitive advantage provided by EXP is a strategic edge that is neither easily observed nor quickly duplicated by competitors. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Examines the major principles (e.g., applied behavioral science) governing the practice of organization development (OD) with respect to 3 areas (core values and shared understandings, major principles of theory and practice, and culture and climate) and suggests implications for the future development of the field. Changes in OD (1950–2000) are outlined. Future considerations may focus on changes in the work force, adaptive organization structures, increasing international competition, productivity in the service sector, and the need for leaders who can transform organizational culture. OD practitioners will be required in the 1990s to have greater familiarity with the nature of their business to assist the organization more completely, to remain process rather than content oriented, and to focus on and integrate process issues with the nature of the business. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Asserts that in an increasingly completive global economy—one that places a premium on innovation, flexibility, and responsiveness—the focus of management's efforts must shift from the more efficient management of tangible resources to the more effective utilization of a firm's intellectual capital and human resources. More capable leadership at the top is not necessarily the answer. To compete in the knowledge age, firms must increasingly rely on the knowledge, skills, experience, and judgment of all their people. This article focuses on the changing role of leaders as they seek to "loosen up" the organization without losing strategic focus or spinning out of control. Five key roles of leadership are examined: (1) using strategic vision to motivate and inspire; (2) empowering employees at all levels; (3) accumulating and sharing internal knowledge; (4) gathering and integrating external information; and (5) challenging the status quo and enabling creativity. These roles are illustrated with multiple examples of how top managers in leading organizations have met these challenges, transformed their organizations, and created new sources of competitive advantage. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
There are elements of today's organization design that are timeless, but there are also new strategic imperatives that flow from the reshaped environment that will raise design issues for the organization of the future. The authors point out that the environment will continue to drive the strategic architecture or an enterprise and the variety of ways in which the enterprise manages the work of its people in pursuit of strategic objectives. At the same time, the changing environment will create 6 strategic imperatives for future organizations: focus portfolios, with various business models; abbreviate strategic life cycles; create "go-to-market" flexibility; enhance competitive innovation; and manage intra-enterprise cannibalism. Eight core competencies in which organizations will have to become proficient in light of these challenges are suggested: increased organization clock speed, design structural divergence, organizational modularity, hybrid distribution channels, asymmetrical research and development, conflict management processes, organizational coherence, and team management. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Notes that an increasingly significant organizational practice is the "idiosyncratic deal", an individualized arrangement negotiated between valued workers and their employers. This article addresses the positive and negative consequences of accommodating to individual worker preferences regarding work hours, assignments, and perks that people with valued skills can negotiate. It addresses when and how to make idiosyncratic deals and when to avoid them. It is stated that idiosyncratic deals, benefiting both the worker and the organization, must be distinguished from politicking, which serves only self-interest. Conditions promoting effective idiosyncratic deals involve well-specified responsibilities and roles, clear performance criteria, and high quality relations between workers, their managers, and each other. This article's key message is as follows: Turning individual deals into a source of innovative practices the firm can adopt more broadly is a means for achieving both flexibility and fairness. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
The 360-degree appraisal is a system in which individuals evaluate themselves and receive feedback from other employees and organizational members. The author contends that many companies may be rushing into implementing this new mode of appraisal without considering a full scope of desired outcomes, then building systems that support those results. Possible outcomes include not only improvement in work behavior, but also greater self-awareness, ongoing dialogue between workers and managers, and management learning. Basing his discussion on field research at 4 companies implementing 360-degree appraisals, the author outlines an entire system (inputs, processes, and outcomes) and provides advice on how each component of the system can be designed to support the desired results. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Studied how part-time employees (153 nurses, 452 retail salespeople, and 102 undergraduate and graduate students) reacted to 6 job factors (pay, fringe benefits packages, type of work, relationships with co-workers and customers, supervision, and scheduling flexibility). Data reveal a diversity of expectations, desires, and degrees of satisfaction with various factors. For permanent year-round employees, part-time work was a compromise between desire to have a career and the desire to have a family. Temporary or seasonal employees viewed part-time work as a stop-gap measure. Competition on the basis of low-cost goods and bare-essential services calls for low-cost part-time employees; competition on the basis of customer service calls for highly skilled and organizationally committed employees. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Defines the Abilene paradox as occurring when organizations take actions in contradiction to the data they have for dealing with problems, thus compounding rather than solving their problems. 3 examples of the paradox are presented, and 5 psychological concepts are used to explain the paradox's logic: action anxiety, negative fantasies, real risk, separation anxiety, and the psychological reversal of risk and certainty. Use of direct confrontation is recommended to cope with the paradox. The inability to manage agreement is viewed as a major source of organizational dysfunction, and the reality-confrontation necessary to cope with the paradox is considered a psychological "peak experience." (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Top-cited authors
Michael Harris Bond
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Fred Luthans
  • University of Nebraska at Lincoln
Charles C. Snow
  • Pennsylvania State University
John Slocum
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Raymond E. Miles
  • University of California, Berkeley