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Article

Unethical Pro-Organizational Behavior  

Alexander Newman, Shenjiang Mo, and Matthew Lupoli

Unethical behavior in organizations persists in many forms across industries and nations. What often unites these behaviors is an underlying motivation to benefit oneself, typically for financial reasons, and frequently at the expense of others. However, unethical behaviors are not only committed with selfish intentions. Sometimes, employees commit unethical behaviors with the motivation to aid the organization or its members. These actions are known in the literature as unethical pro-organizational behavior (UPB). Despite their benevolent intentions, UPB has the potential to yield detrimental outcomes for individuals and organizations—including those it is intended to help. As such, a growing body of research has been devoted to better understanding the antecedents and consequences of these actions.

Article

Organizational Learning and Adaptation  

Henrich R. Greve

Organizational learning theory is motivated by the observation that organizations learn by encoding inferences from experience into their behavior. It seeks to answer the questions of what kinds of experiences influence behaviors, how and under what circumstances behaviors change, and how new behaviors are stabilized and have consequences for organizations’ adaptation to their environment. Organizational learning research has as key mechanisms innovations and other triggering events that lead to major behavioral change, knowledge accumulation and experimentation that encourage incremental change, and interpretations that guide each of these processes. Organizational learning research has gained a central position in organizational theory because it has implications for organizational behaviors that also affect other theoretical perspectives such as institutional theory, organizational ecology, and resource dependence. Key research topics in organizational learning and adaptation are (a) organizational routines and their stability and change, (b) performance feedback and its consequences for organizational search and change, (c) managerial goal formation and coalition building, (d) managerial attention to goals and organizational activities, and (e) adaptive consequences of learning procedures. Each of these topics has seen significant research, but they are far from completing their empirical agenda. Recently, organizational learning research has been very active, especially on the topics of routines, performance feedback, and attention, resulting in a strong increase in learning and adaptation research in management journals.

Article

Emotions in Organizations  

Cynthia Fisher

There has been an “affective revolution” in organizational behavior since the mid-1990s, focusing initially on moods and affective dispositions. The past decade has seen a further shift toward investigating the complex roles played by discrete emotions in the workplace. Discrete emotions such as fear, anger, boredom, love, gratitude, and pride have their own appraisal antecedents, subjective experiences, and action tendencies that prepare people to respond to their current situation. Emotions have intrapersonal effects on the person experiencing them in terms of attention, motivation, creativity, information processing and judgment, and well-being. Some emotions have characteristic voice tones or facial expressions that serve the interpersonal function of communicating one’s state to interaction partners. For this reason, emotions are integral to social processes in organizations such as leadership, teamwork, negotiation, and customer service. The effects of emotions on behavior can be complex and context-dependent rather than straightforwardly mechanistic. Individuals may regulate the emotions they experience, the extent to which they display what they feel, and the actions they choose in response to how they feel. Research has tended to focus on negative emotions (e.g., anger or anxiety) and their potential negative effects (e.g., aggression or avoidance), but negative emotions can sometimes have positive consequences. Discrete positive emotions have been relatively ignored in organizational research but feeling and expressing positive emotions often have positive consequences. There is considerable scope for investigating the ways in which specific discrete emotions are experienced, regulated, expressed, and acted upon in organizational life. There may also be a case for intentional efforts by organizations and employees to increase the occurrence of positive emotions at work.

Article

Crowdsourcing Innovation  

Linus Dahlander and Henning Piezunka

Crowdsourcing—a form of collaboration across organizational boundaries—provides access to knowledge beyond an organization’s local knowledge base. There are four basic steps to crowdsourcing: (a) define a problem, (b) broadcast the problem to an audience of potential solvers, (c) take actions to attract solutions, and (d) select from the set of submitted ideas. To successfully innovate via crowdsourcing, organizations must complete all these steps. Each step requires an organization to make various decisions. For example, organizations need to decide whether its selection is made internally. Organizations must take into account interdependencies among these four steps. For example, the choice between qualitative and quantitative selection mechanisms affects how widely organizations should broadcast a problem and how many solutions they should attract. Organizations must make many decisions, and they must take into account the many interdependencies in each key step.

Article

Luxury Business  

Pierre-Yves Donzé and Rika Fujioka

The luxury business has been one of the fastest growing industries since the late 1990s. Despite numerous publications in management and business history, it is still difficult to have a clear idea of what “luxury” is, what the characteristics of this business are, and what the dynamics of the industry are. With no consensus on the definition of luxury among scholars and authors, the concept thus requires discussion. Luxury is commonly described as the high-end market segment, but the delimitation of the lower limit of this segment and its differentiation from common consumer goods are rather ambiguous. Authors use different terminology to describe products in this grey zone (such as “accessible luxury,” “new luxury,” and “prestige brands”). Despite the ambiguous definition of “luxury,” various companies have described their own businesses in this way, and consumers perceive them as producers of luxury goods and services. Research on luxury business has focused mostly on four topics: (1) the evolution of its industrial organization since the 1980s (the emergence of large conglomerates such as Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE or LVMH, and the reorganization of small and medium-sized enterprises); (2) production systems (the introduction of European companies into global value chains, and the role of country of origin labels and counterfeiting); (3) brand management (using heritage and tradition to build luxury brands); and (4) access to consumers (customization versus standardization). Lastly, new marketing communication strategies have recently been adopted by companies, namely customer relations via social media and the creation of online communities.

Article

Workplace Deviance  

Rebecca J. Bennett, Shelly Marasi, and Lauren Locklear

The history of workplace deviance research has evolved from a focus on singular behaviors, such as theft or withdrawal in the 1970s and 1980s, to the broader focus on a range of behaviors in the 21st century. This more inclusive cluster of related “dark side” behaviors is made up of voluntary behaviors that violate significant organizational norms and in so doing threaten the well-being of an organization, its members, or both. Examples of behaviors that fall in this domain are employee theft and sabotage of organizational goods, services, data, customer lists, materials, working slow, calling in sick when you are not, bullying, harassment, discrimination, and gossip. Workplace deviance can be targeted at other individuals in the organization (coworkers, supervisors, subordinates) or at the organization itself, or both. Typically the actor’s perspective is considered, but other relevant views of the behavior include the supervisor/the organization, peers, customers, or other third parties. Many causes have been studied as sources of deviant workplace behaviors, for example personality characteristics such as neuroticism or low conscientiousness, modeling others’ behavior, experiences of injustice, uncertainty, lack of control or feelings of anger, frustration, and dissatisfaction. Nowadays, some researchers are returning to a focus on individual behaviors, or smaller clusters of behaviors such as sexual misconduct, gossip, and even constructive deviance, and the outcomes of workplace deviance on actors, targets, and observers are being investigated.

Article

Organizational Happiness  

Howard Harris

Organizational happiness is an intuitively attractive idea, notwithstanding the difficulty of defining happiness. A preference for unhappiness rather than happiness in an organization would be out of tune with community expectations in most societies, as would an organization that promoted unhappiness. Some argue that organizational happiness is a misconception, that happiness is a personality trait and organizations cannot have personality. Others suggest that organizational happiness is derived from, or at least dependent on, the happiness of the individuals in the organization. A third approach involves virtue ethics, linking organizational happiness to virtuous organizations. Some discussion of the nature of happiness is needed before consideration of these three approaches to the concept of organizational happiness. If one leaves aside the notion of happiness as a psychological state, there remain three main views as to the nature of happiness: one based on a hedonistic view, which grounds happiness in pleasure, one based on the extent to which desire is satisfied, and one where happiness is linked to a life of virtuous activity and the fulfillment of human potential. Some would see no distinction between all three senses of happiness and what is called well-being. Whether or not organizations can experience happiness is to some extent determined by whether happiness is considered subjective well-being, fulfilled desire, or virtue and to some extent by one’s view of the moral nature of corporations. There are dangers in the unfettered pursuit of happiness. Empirical research is impacted by questions of definition, by changes over time for both individuals and society, and by the difficulty that arises from reliance on self-reported data. Recent decades have seen the publication of quantitative assessments of organizational happiness, despite the difficulty of constructing scales and manipulating data, and the problems of effectively taking into account cultural, organizational, and individual differences in concepts of happiness. Potential research questions fall into two groups, those that seek a better understanding of what happiness is and those that seek to collect data about happiness in pursuit of answers to questions about the benefits of happiness.

Article

Strategic Empowerment in Human Resource Management  

M. Taner Albayrak and Alper Ertürk

Empowerment is considered one of the best managerial approaches to foster employees’ effectiveness, creativity, commitment, performance, and other positive work-related attitudes and behaviors while providing an essential tool for leadership development and succession planning. Empowerment involves delegation of authority, sharing of information and resources, and allowing employees to participate in decision-making processes. Empowerment practices result in positive outcomes through psychological empowerment, which comprises meaning, impact, self-determination, and competence. However, empowerment should be exercised with care, and before doing so, leaders should understand their employees’ competences, willingness, and characteristics, as well as the organizational culture and industrial dynamics. With the increasing use of information and communication technologies, inevitable influence of globalization, and continuously changing dynamics of interconnectedness among industries, the business environment has become more volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA). In order to survive in this environment, companies try to increase diversity in their workforce to make the best use of a broad variety of skills, experiences, and opinions, thus boosting creativity and innovativeness, which makes leadership more difficult than ever. With empowerment, the concept of delegation of power is important. Therefore, comparing the concept of personal empowerment with managerial empowerment helps in understanding that these concepts are different, although interconnected. Delegation of authority ensures that the manager transfers decision-making authority to subordinates under certain conditions. In delegation, authority is retained by the manager, who has the ultimate responsibility. On the other hand, in empowerment, authority is fully transferred to the person who is already doing the job, with all the rights and responsibilities to take the initiative as necessary. Empowerment is also closely related but different from the concept of motivation. In motivation, decision-making authority and control stays with the manager. Empowerment, on the other hand, gives employees the opportunity to participate in management, solve problems, and participate in decision-making processes. In this context, the concepts of delegation of authority, motivation, participation in management, and job enrichment are the domain dimensions of personal empowerment, and thus they are interrelated, yet different. It is important to create a common vision and to have common values in order to establish the empowerment process. Subordinates and supervisors need to trust each other, and empowerment needs to be seen as a philosophy, not a technique. It is necessary to create business conditions that enable the development of knowledge and skills in personnel empowerment. These conditions affect the perceptions and attitudes of the staff, such as, support, loyalty, identification, and trust. Empowering employees promotes organizational commitment, increases engagement, and reduces turnover intentions of key personnel. Because empowerment involves encouraging participation of subordinates in the decision-making process, it also helps to enhance the effectiveness of the decisions and reduce decision-making time. In the VUCA world, limited decision making could be a critical obstacle to establish and maintain sustainability in highly competitive business environments.

Article

Constructs and Measures in Stakeholder Management Research  

James Mattingly and Nicholas Bailey

Stakeholder strategies, or firms’ approaches to stakeholder management, may have a significant impact on firms’ long-term prosperity and, thereby, on their life chances, as established in the stakeholder view of the firm. A systematic literature review surveyed the contemporary body of quantitative empirical research that has examined firm-level activities relevant to stakeholder management, corporate social responsibility, and corporate social performance, because these three constructs are often conflated in literature. A search uncovered 99 articles published in 22 journals during the 10-year period from 2010 to 2019. Most studies employed databases reporting environmental, social, and governance (ESG) ratings, originally created for use in socially responsible investing and corporate risk assessment, but others employed content analysis of texts and primary surveys. Examination revealed a key difference in the scoring of data, in that some studies aggregated numerous indicators into a single composite index to indicate levels of stakeholder management, and other studies scored more articulated constructs. Articulated constructs provided richer observations, including governance and structural arrangements most likely to provide both stakeholder benefits and protections. Also observed were constraining influences of managerial and market myopia, sustaining influences from resilience and complexity frameworks, and recognition that contextual variables are contingencies having impact in recognizing the efficacy of stakeholder management strategies.

Article

Social Norms in Organizations  

Jennifer E. Dannals and Dale T. Miller

Social norms are a powerful force in organizations. While different literatures across fields have developed differing definitions and categories, social norms are commonly defined as and divided into descriptive norms, i.e., the most commonly enacted behavior, and prescriptive norms, i.e., the behavior most commonly viewed as acceptable or appropriate. Different literatures have also led to differing focuses of investigation for social norms research. Economic theorists have tended to examine social norm emergence by studying how social norms evolve to reduce negative or create positive externalities in situations. Organizational theorists and sociologists have instead focused on the social pressures which maintain social norms in groups over time, and eventually can lead group members to internalize the social norm. In contrast, social psychologists have tended to focus on how to use social norms in interventions aimed at reducing negative behaviors. Integrating these divergent streams of research proves important for future research.

Article

Organizational Neuroscience  

Sebastiano Massaro and Dorotea Baljević

Organizational neuroscience—a novel scholarly domain using neuroscience to inform management and organizational research, and vice versa—is flourishing. Still missing, however, is a comprehensive coverage of organizational neuroscience as a self-standing scientific field. A foundational account of the potential that neuroscience holds to advance management and organizational research is currently a gap. The gap can be addressed with a review of the main methods, systematizing the existing scholarly literature in the field including entrepreneurship, strategic management, and organizational behavior, among others.

Article

Innovation in Family Business  

Alfredo De Massis, Emanuela Rondi, and Samuel Wayne Appleton

The involvement of families in firms’ ownership, management, and governance is a key driver of organizational attitudes, behaviors, and performances, especially those related to innovation. Starting from the beginning of the 21st century, the academic interest toward family firm innovation has bloomed. This body of research has mostly emerged from family firm scholars, while mainstream innovation scholars have often overlooked family variables in their studies. Indeed, innovation is one of the main areas in family firm research, integrating family and business aspects, leading to a plethora of sometimes contradictory findings. Initially, research compared innovation between family and nonfamily firms. While this approach has been beneficial to the rise of this stream of research and underlined the idiosyncratic characteristics of family firms on this matter, it soon emerged that within family firms there is a high degree of heterogeneity, especially in their attributes and the way they relate to innovation. Therefore, scholars have delved deeper into the heterogeneous influence that different types and degrees of family involvement in the firm can exert on innovation. This vast body of literature can be reconciled according to an antecedents–activities–outcomes framework allowing to attune current understanding of family firm innovation and recommend directions for future research. While most of current research has examined the antecedents of family business innovation, further examination of the activity of innovating in family firms is needed. Fostering accessibility to this literature allows students, practitioners, and scholars to grasp and digest this insightful area of family business research. It also encourages an extension of the range of perspectives adopted to examine innovation in family firms, contributing to advance current knowledge.

Article

The Concept, Treatment, and Future of Language in Contemporary Business and Management  

Terry Mughan

In the literature of business and management, language, unlike the contiguous concepts of culture and communication, did not have a recognized place until the early part of the 21st century. Isolated publications about language might have appeared occasionally in journals in subdisciplines such as marketing, communication, and international business (IB), but there was no real visible research community or concentration of output in the field. Special issues appearing in International Studies of Management and Organization, 2005 and the Journal of World Business, 2011 were significant steps in demonstrating the emergence of active researchers at this time. In 2014, the Journal of International Business Studies (JIBS), the top-ranked IB journal and the only such journal used by the Financial Times for its global journal rankings, published its first special issue on the subject. This landmark issue attracted 78 submissions, of which 14 were published in JIBS over two issues, and this represented a breakthrough in terms of both quality and quantity that captured the attention of all in the IB field. Many explanations have been proffered for the delay in breaching this barrier, from tacit resistance on the part of monolingual executives and institutions to methodological bias in favor of numerical data to the daunting definitional complexity of the term “language” itself and its relation to nation-level phenomena.

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.

Article

Gendered Organization Theory  

Jenny K. Rodriguez and Elisabeth Anna Guenther

Gendered organization theory refers to an understanding of organizations as sites that (re)produce gender dynamics and the gender order. Bringing the gender lens to discussions about organization theory is useful to capture the filter through which relational dynamics operate in organizations and the way these (re)construct the psychological, cultural, and social dimensions that shape the organization as a dynamic, relational, and interdependent structure. Key ideas associated with gendered organization theory center on gender as a social category that continues to be the basis for inequality in working life. Gendered organization theory pays particular attention to how gender interacts with different dimensions of social, political, economic, and technological life and how this is mobilized in organizations as well as how organizations foster and tackle new and reformulated gender(ed) inequalities. However, gender is not the only social category of difference that shapes inequality in organizations and would benefit from more explicit insight from feminist theories to unpack the complex dynamics in organizations and the impact they have on individuals. Focusing on intersectionality, decolonial feminism, ecofeminism, queering, and theorizing beyond the human provides a more integrated framework to understand the complex and fluid impact of gender in organizations.

Article

Institutional Theory in Organization Studies  

Robert J. David, Pamela S. Tolbert, and Johnny Boghossian

Institutional theory is a prominent perspective in contemporary organizational research. It encompasses a large, diverse body of theoretical and empirical work connected by a common emphasis on cultural understandings and shared expectations. Institutional theory is often used to explain the adoption and spread of formal organizational structures, including written policies, standard practices, and new forms of organization. Tracing its roots to the writings of Max Weber on legitimacy and authority, the perspective originated in the 1950s and 1960s with the work of Talcott Parsons, Philip Selznick, and Alvin Gouldner on organization–environment relations. It subsequently underwent a “cognitive turn” in the 1970s, with an emphasis on taken-for-granted habits and assumptions, and became commonly known as “neo-institutionalism” in organizational studies. Recently, work based on the perspective has shifted from a focus on processes involved in producing isomorphism to a focus on institutional change, exemplified by studies of the emergence of new laws and regulations, products, services, and occupations. The expansion of the theoretical framework has contributed to its long-term vitality, though a number of challenges to its development remain, including resolving inconsistencies in the different models of decision-making and action (homo economicus vs. homo sociologicus) that underpin institutional analysis and improving our understanding of the intersection of socio-cultural forces and entrepreneurial agency.

Article

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

Workplace Dishonesty and Deception as Socially Situated Organizational Behavior  

Keith Leavitt and David M. Sluss

Truthfulness and accuracy are critical for effective organizational functioning, but dishonesty (in the form of lying, misrepresentation, and fraud) continue to be pervasive in organizational life. Workplace dishonesty is an inherently unique behavior that should be distinguished from broader categories of unethical workplace behavior and organizational deviance, in that dishonesty is an overt social behavior—that is, requiring an audience to exist as a behavior. Compared to stealing or cheating, dishonest acts require knowing fabrication of false information, intended to deceive an anticipated audience. Thus, considering the overt social aspect of dishonesty (compared to the relatively clandestine behaviors of cheating and stealing) may add conceptual clarity to the construct of workplace dishonesty, which is surprisingly absent from extant literature. The potential audience for dishonest acts in the workplace is notably critical, in that dishonest organizational actors generally anticipate characteristics of the audience (in terms of relationship closeness, as well as expertise and motivation to evaluate the claim) and likely adapt and tailor their dishonesty accordingly. Historically two underlying paradigms have been used to study workplace dishonesty: the rational actor (economic) paradigm and the behavioral ethics (psychological) paradigm, but an emerging and nascent third paradigm (the social actor paradigm) may offer new opportunities for understanding antecedents of workplace dishonesty that do not occur exclusively for self-interested reasons. This novel paradigm suggests here important areas of inquiry related to the aftermath of workplace dishonesty: when will workplace dishonesty be detected in social interactions; what are the social and relational consequences of discovering dishonesty; how are dishonest actors likely to behave in the aftermath of their dishonest actions. Finally, two varying discrepancies relevant to workplace dishonesty should accordingly be considered when predicting subsequent behavior of the dishonest actor: the magnitude of the discrepancy between the truth and the fabrication, and the temporal discrepancy between the trigger event and dishonest act.

Article

Strategic Planning in the Public Sector  

John Bryson and Lauren Hamilton Edwards

Strategic planning has become a fairly routine and common practice at all levels of government in the United States and elsewhere. It can be part of the broader practice of strategic management that links planning with implementation. Strategic planning can be applied to organizations, collaborations, functions (e.g., transportation or health), and to places ranging from local to national to transnational. Research results are somewhat mixed, but they generally show a positive relationship between strategic planning and improved organizational performance. Much has been learned about public-sector strategic planning over the past several decades but there is much that is not known. There are a variety of approaches to strategic planning. Some are comprehensive process-oriented approaches (i.e., public-sector variants of the Harvard Policy Model, logical incrementalism, stakeholder management, and strategic management systems). Others are more narrowly focused process approaches that are in effect strategies (i.e., strategic negotiations, strategic issues management, and strategic planning as a framework for innovation). Finally, there are content-oriented approaches (i.e., portfolio analyses and competitive forces analysis). The research on public-sector strategic planning has pursued a number of themes. The first concerns what strategic planning “is” theoretically and practically. The approaches mentioned above may be thought of as generic—their ostensive aspect—but they must be applied contingently and sensitively in practice—their performative aspect. Scholars vary in whether they conceptualize strategic planning in a generic or performative way. A second theme concerns attempts to understand whether and how strategic planning “works.” Not surprisingly, how strategic planning is conceptualized and operationalized affects the answers. A third theme focuses on outcomes of strategic planning. The outcomes studied typically have been performance-related, such as efficiency and effectiveness, but some studies focus on intermediate outcomes, such as participation and learning, and a small number focus on a broader range of public values, such as transparency or equity. A final theme looks at what contributes to strategic planning success. Factors related to success include effective leadership, organizational capacity and resources, and participation, among others. A substantial research agenda remains. Public-sector strategic planning is not a single thing, but many things, and can be conceptualized in a variety of ways. Useful findings have come from each of these different conceptualizations through use of a variety of methodologies. This more open approach to research should continue. Given the increasing ubiquity of strategic planning across the globe, the additional insights this research approach can yield into exactly what works best, in which situations, and why, is likely to be helpful for advancing public purposes.

Article

Virtual Worlds Affordances for Organizations  

Kathryn Aten

Virtual work has become critical to competing in the global information economy for many organizations. Successfully working through technology across time and space, especially on collaborative tasks, however, remains challenging. Virtual work can lead to feelings of isolation, communication and coordination difficulties, and decreased innovation. Researchers attribute many of these challenges to a lack of common ground. Virtual worlds, one type of virtualization technology, offer a potentially promising solution. Despite initial interest, organizational adoption of virtual worlds has been slower than researchers and proponents expected. The challenges of virtual work, however, remain, and research has identified virtual world technology affordances that can support virtual collaboration. Virtual world features such as multi-user voice and chat, persistence, avatars, and three-dimensional environment afford, in particular, social actions associated with successful collaboration. This suggests that the greatest value virtual worlds may offer to organizations is their potential to support virtual collaboration. Organizational scholars increasingly use a technology affordance lens to examine how features of malleable communication technologies influence organizational behavior and outcomes. Technology affordances represent possibilities of action enabled by technology features or combinations of features. Particularly relevant to virtual world technology are social affordances—affordances of social mediating technologies that support users’ social and psychological needs. To be useful to organizations, there must be a match between virtual world technology affordances, organizational practices, and a technology frame or organizing vision. Recent studies suggest a growing appreciation of the influence of physical organizational spaces on individual and organizational outcomes and increasing awareness of the need for virtual intelligence in individuals. This appreciation provides a possible basis for an emerging organizing vision that, along with recent technology developments and societal comfort with virtual environments, may support wider organizational adoption of virtual worlds and other virtualization technologies.