Category Archives: Organizational Behavior

Handling Resistance to Change When Societal and Workplace Logics Conflict


Source: Namrata Malhotra, Charlene Zietsma, Timothy Morris, Michael Smets, Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol 66, Issue 2, 2021
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Changes in societal logics often leave firms’ policies and practices out of step. Yet when firms introduce a change that brings in a new societal logic, employees may resist, even though they personally value the change, because the incoming logic conflicts with existing organizational logics. How can change agents handle logic-based resistance to an organizational initiative that introduces a new logic? We studied elite law firms that introduced a new role into their traditional up-or-out career path in response to associates’ anonymously expressed desire for better work–life balance, which associates resisted because expressing family concerns was illegitimate within the firms. Change agents responded to three forms of resisters’ logic-based concerns—irreconcilability, ambiguity, and contradiction—with three tailored responses—redirecting, reinforcing, and reassuring—using contextually legitimate logic elements. Over time logic elements of each concern–response pair harmonized to enable individuals to enact their logics seamlessly and organizations to update the existing logic settlement to assimilate the societal change. We demonstrate that the way available logics are accessed and activated between pluralistic change agents and resisters can enable logic settlements to be updated in response to societal change. We draw insights about how logics do or do not constrain agency.

Effecting Real Progress in Executive Diversity and Inclusion

Source: Adam Payne and Dana Kaminstein, MIT Sloan Management Review, February 24, 2021
(subscription required)

Why diversity and inclusion efforts often fail to produce the intended changes, and proactive approaches leaders can take.

Well-run companies expect good returns on their spending, and leaders who continue to support initiatives that don’t produce results usually find themselves demoted or fired. So why have the billions of dollars that many organizations have spent on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts produced so little substantive progress toward greater diversity?

Numerous reports indicate that the percentage of Black people in the leadership ranks of large U.S. companies hovers at just above 3%. This percentage remains persistently low despite large investments in diversity and inclusion training, the creation of offices of diversity and inclusion, and other companywide initiatives. Studies now indicate that DEI training rarely improves an organization’s record of hiring or promoting Black people. Companies that bemoan a dearth of qualified Black candidates for leadership roles rarely consider that the hiring process itself may disqualify potential applicants of color.

Aware of the ways in which organizations defend themselves against change that threatens their social structures, philosopher and social theorist Donald Schön noted that organizations will “fight like mad to stay the same.”…

The Impact of Unionization on University Performance

Source: Mark Cassell, Odeh Halaseh, Journal of Collective Bargaining in the Academy: Vol. 6, Article 3, December 2014

From the abstract:
This study examines faculty unions’ impact on the organizational efficiency and effectiveness of public four-year institutions of higher learning. The article theorizes the causal connections between faculty unions to higher education performance. The study also presents results of a cross-sectional time series analysis and a cross-sectional analysis of higher education performance using data from the Department of Education’s Integrated Post Secondary Data System (IPEDS) spanning more than two decades and over 430 public universities and colleges. We find support for the view that unionization improves organizational efficiency and effectiveness. At the same time the research raises important methodological and substantive questions about how faculty unions influence the behavior of such complex public organizations as a university or college.

Spreading Protest Tactics

Source: Corinna Wu, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Vol. 11 no. 1, Winter 2013
(subscription required)

From the introduction:
Protesting can take many forms—from waving signs, lighting candles, and making speeches to holding sit-ins, writing letters, and filing lawsuits. Some unusual tactics—such as paying for a purchase in pennies to slow down business—aren’t used often, but once successful, they can spread like wildfire.

Sarah Soule, a professor of organizational behavior at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, wanted to see just how such protest tactics have spread among social-movement organizations….

GovCloud: The future of government work

Source: Charlie Tierney, Steve Cottle, Katie Jorgensen, Deloitte, 2012

From the summary:
The way we work is changing. While government work is becoming increasingly complex, the public sector workforce structure, designed for the clerks of the 1950s, remains relatively unchanged. Moreover, when changes are made, they tend to be reactive, creating new, permanent structures that look a lot like the old ones. Given the well-documented budgetary pressures and burgeoning debt in countries around the globe, the status quo of simply adding layers of government agencies is unsustainable.

How, then, can governments change to meet future work trends? Creating an adaptable government workforce would require providing an unprecedented degree of flexibility. To accomplish this, we could draw from a game-changing concept in the technology world: cloud computing. Major organizations and small startups alike increase their flexibility by sharing storage space, information, and resources in a “cloud”. Why not move beyond computing and apply the cloud model to the workforce? A cloud-based government workforce, or GovCloud, could comprise employees who undertake creative, problem-focused work. Rather than existing in any single agency, these workers could reside in the cloud, making them truly government-wide employees. Cloud teams could be directed by thinner agencies than those that exist today. Agencies and cloud teams could be supported by government-wide shared services that prevent the establishment of new, permanent structures by assisting with ongoing, routine work.

This report details trends in work and technology that offer significant opportunities for improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the government workforce. It outlines the GovCloud model and includes a tool to determine cloud eligibility as well as some future scenarios illustrating the cloud in action. Learn how GovCloud can change the face of public sector work, allowing governments to move beyond the workforce structure of yesterday in order to confront the challenges of tomorrow.

Unions As Organizations: Strategy Versus Environment

Source: Angela T. Hall, Jack Fiorito, Marko Horn and Christopher R. Langford, WorkingUSA, Volume 14, Issue 4, December 2011
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Empirical studies typically examine unions in aggregate, that is, whether union presence or absence affects important outcomes. Only recently have researchers analyzed unions as distinct organizations. In order to address this void in the literature, key union officials were surveyed regarding their unions’ ability to manage and shape their environment, as well as selected critical strategic issues. The results suggest that unions can and do take measures to manage their environments and control their destinies, but consistent with some prior work, union strategy is best seen as “emergent” from cumulative choices rather than a “grand design.”

Building a Collaborative Enterprise

Source: Paul Adler, Charles Heckscher, and Laurence Prusak, Harvard Business Review, Vol. 89 nos. 7 & 8, July-August 2011
(subscription required)

…Collaborative communities encourage people to continually apply their unique talents to group projects–and to become motivated by a collective mission, not just personal gain or the intrinsic pleasures of autonomous creativity. By marrying a sense of common purpose to a supportive structure, these organizations are mobilizing knowledge workers’ talents and expertise in flexible, highly manageable group-work efforts. The approach fosters not only innovation and agility but also efficiency and scalability.

A growing number of organizations–including IBM, Citibank, NASA, and Kaiser Permanente–are reaping the rewards of collaborative communities in the form of higher margins on knowledge-intensive work. (The CSC divisions that applied the CMM most rigorously reduced error rates by 75% over six years and achieved a 10% annual increase in productivity, while making products more innovative and technologically sophisticated.)

Human Resources Issues in Local government: Yesterday’s Headlines Remain Today’s “Hot Topics”

Source: Amy M. McDowell and William M. Leavitt, Public Personnel Management, Vol. 40 no. 3, Fall 2011
(subscription required)

The authors of this article suggest that one of the most informative methods to identify the human resources issues that occupy an organization’s time and efforts is to ask the experts directly. In many local governments, there are at least three groups or organizational units that share responsibility for human resources functions and that must work together as a team to solve human resources issues: managers and supervisors, human resources professionals, and attorneys. This article specifically addresses some of the legal concerns and issues, i.e. the “hot topics,” that constitute the primary workload of attorneys practicing local government employment law, explores these issues, and identify these ongoing concerns.