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A Practice-Based View of Innovation Adoption  

Rangapriya Kannan and Paola Perez-Aleman

Innovation adoption is challenging at both intra-organizational and interorganizational levels. Several decades of innovation adoption research have identified various barriers at both levels. Intra-organizational barriers are often related to the characteristics of the innovation, adopters, managers, environment, and ecosystem but can also include an incompatibility with an organization’s strategy, structural impediments, organizational resource constraints, a lack of fit of the innovation with an organizational culture and climate, decision making challenges, a lack of integration with an organization’s knowledge management, human resource management practices, dynamic capabilities, and active innovation resistance from customers. Interorganizational barriers include uncertainty with learning and implementation, the distributed nature of the innovation process, differences in production systems, disparities in regulatory systems, variation within local contexts, and the nature of embedded knowledge adopted in diverse organizational contexts. One of the key missing aspects in understanding innovation adoption is how extant practices within an organizational or interorganizational context enhance or hinder innovation adoption. Although the practices of innovation adoption emerge and evolve dynamically, existing research does not highlight fine-grained practices that lead to its success or failure. A practice lens focuses on people’s recurrent actions and helps to understand social life as an ongoing production that results from these actions. The durability of practices results from the reciprocal interactions between agents and structures that are embedded within daily routines. A practice lens allows us to study practices from three different perspectives. The first perspective, empirically explores how people act in organizational contexts. The second, a theoretical focus investigates the structure of organizational life. This perspective also delves into the relations between the actions that people take over time and in varying contexts. Finally, the third perspective which is a philosophical one focuses on how practices reproduce organizational reality. By focusing on the unfolding of constellations of everyday activities in relation to other practices within and across time and space, a practice lens hones in on everyday actions. Everyday actions are consequential in producing the structural contours of social life. A practice lens emphasizes what people do repeatedly and how those repetitive actions impact the social world. A practice theory lens also challenges the assumption that things are separable and independent. Instead, it focuses on relationality of mutual constitution to understand how one aspect of the issue creates another aspect. Relationality of mutual constitution is the notion that things such as identities, ideas, institutions, power, and material goods take on meaning only when they are enacted through practices instead of these being innate features of these things Focusing on duality forces us to address the assumptions that underlie the separation. A practice perspective on innovation adoption highlights the concepts of duality, dynamics, reciprocal interactions, relationality, and distributed agency to inform both the theory and practice of innovation adoption. Understanding these concepts enables a practice lens for successful adoption of innovations that impact organizational and societal outcomes, such as economic development, productivity enhancement, entrepreneurship, sustainability, equity, health, and other economic, social, and environmental changes.

Article

Blame: Stakeholder Judgments That Impact Organizations and Entrepreneurs  

Varkey Titus and Izuchukwu Mbaraonye

Blame is a feature of everyday life, whether or not that blame is directed toward an individual for a willful act of moral transgression, an entrepreneur for taking reckless action that puts the venture and its employees at risk, or a company for the violation of some social norm. Blame identifies morally wrong behavior and has the power to pressure individuals to adhere to a set of norms. More broadly, blame is worthy of scholarly consideration because it is a reality for organizations and the individuals who lead them. Blame is multifaceted because it entails psychological, social, and legal issues. Historically, psychological theories of blame emphasized the rational and prescriptive—how blame attribution processes ought to occur to produce an accurate blame attribution, for example. Over time, psychological theories started to incorporate nonrational elements—such as how socially attractive the potentially blameworthy is, whether the blameworthy engage in “positive” or “negative” actions that are unrelated to the blameworthy act, and so forth. Blame becomes more complicated when it moves from a specific individual (e.g., an entrepreneur) to an aggregate group (a venture) or an abstract entity (a corporation). The aggregation of blame creates an apportionment problem in that it is unclear who within a group ought to be blamed. This complication is further illustrated in the court of law. For instance, courts in the United States have struggled to consistently judge cases of corporate criminal liability due, in part, to the difficulty of knowing how to assign blame to an abstract entity. Part of the challenge relates to establishing a criminal “state of mind” to a corporation, and the broader question whether a corporation can even have such a state of mind (or if that state of mind resides in its leaders, employees, etc.). Management research on blame is limited. Existing work examines blames-shifting tactics, such as scapegoating, wherein organizations place blame on specific organizational actors who may or may not have any direct connection to the blameworthy event. Importantly, blame attributions can flow both ways: employees may sometimes blame the broader organization, despite the employees’ involvement in the blameworthy act. Given the complexities of blame, entrepreneurs face unique blame-related challenges at different points of their venture’s life cycle. At early stages of the life cycle, blameworthy acts are unlikely to have significant societal impact, and attributions are relatively simple due to the minimal number of actors involved in the venture. As the venture grows, the impact of a blameworthy act grows in magnitude, as does the difficulty of accurately apportioning blame for the act among the numerous actors involved. If the venture eventually adopts a formal corporate structure, it also adopts corporate characteristics such as dispersed decision-making processes, a board of directors that are meant to provide some level of oversight, and so forth. This formal corporate structure introduces the challenge of establishing a “state of mind” for a blameworthy act. Ultimately, blame affects entrepreneurs, their ventures, and the corporations that eventually grow from them, and is worth further scholarly investigation.