Generative emergence is one of many theories for how new entities are created; how a new order comes into being. Emergence itself is one perspective on change and transformation. However, whereas change is an alteration of existing structures, emergence refers to the creation of a new (social) entity. Explaining the phenomenon of creation, at all levels, is the goal of an emergence science.
Generative emergence takes a step in that direction, which explains how emergence can be enacted in practice. Generative emergence derives from dissipative structures in thermodynamics, a theory of new order creation. In the experiment that produced the theory, heat energy is dissipated through a closed container (from a source to a sink), and the heat is continuously increased. At a threshold point, an entirely new level of order emerges across the molecular substrate, in the form of large whirlpools (visible to the naked eye). These macrostructures confer “orders of magnitude” more capacity to dissipate the incoming energy flux.
This unique order-creation process has led to a strong multidisciplinary literature, carefully analogizing this order creation process to social systems. Specifically, in empirical research across multiple levels of analysis (from leadership to teams to ventures to strategies to new markets), the same four phases of activity have been identified. These four phases have been integrated into the theory of generative emergence, which reveals the sequential conditions through which a new system emerges. The phases are (a) disequilibrium organizing and stress, (b) experiments and amplifications to a critical threshold, (c) emergence of a new entity, and (d) stabilizing the new system into a dynamic state.
Generative emergence also shows how each phase can be supported and enacted through the actions of leaders. Specifically, a close reading of empirical research on dissipative structures in social systems reveals a set of leadership interventions that have improved the likelihood that these phases would build in sequence, leading to the creation of an emergent—a new entity.
As one example, consider phase 1: disequilibrium organizing and stress. Entrepreneurial leaders initiate this through opportunity recognition for the creation of new value. As they pursue this aspiration, the dramatic increase in organizing—with its concomitant upsurge in work hours and uncertainty—leads to growing stress and conflict. Here, generative leadership shows how to “manage” this stress, for example by providing space for internal innovations and “experiments” by employees, which might spark the new level of the organization.
In like manner, each of the phases has leadership correlates, which together coalesce into the emergence of a new system—a new initiative, venture, organization, or macrolevel market. The power of the generative emergence theory is that the new order that results can dramatically increase the capacity of the system, and for all of its members. As such, the leadership actions which generate this outcome are worthy of careful exploration and enactment.
Anja H. Olafsen and Edward L. Deci
Self-determination theory (SDT) is a macro theory of human motivation that utilizes concepts essential for organizational psychology. Among the concepts are types and quality of motivation and basic (i.e., innate and universal) psychological needs. Further, the theory has specified social-environmental factors that affect both the satisfaction versus frustration of the basic psychological needs and the types of motivation. The social-environmental factors concern ways in which colleagues, employees’ immediate supervisors, and their higher-level managers create workplace conditions that are important determinants of the employees’ motivation, performance, and wellness. In addition, SDT highlights individual differences that also influence the degrees of basic need satisfaction and the types of motivation that the employees display. This theoretical framework has gained increasingly attention within the context of work the last 15 years, showcasing the importance of basic psychological needs and type of work motivation in explaining the relation from workplace factors to work behaviors, work attitudes and occupational health.
Dirk D. Steiner
Organizational justice refers to people’s perceptions of the fairness or unfairness of the treatment they receive in the organizations where they work. The ways authorities, such as supervisors and managers, make decisions and implement them are evaluated by employees in terms of their fairness. Other agents, such as coworkers and customers who interact with employees, also can generate judgments of fairness or unfairness at work. These fairness perceptions can be conceived according to four dimensions of organizational justice as well as in general terms. The four dimensions are distributive, procedural, interpersonal, and informational. Typically, distributive justice evaluates the equity of treatment, where people expect outcomes proportionate to their contributions. Workers also evaluate the fairness of procedures used to make decisions and the quality of their interpersonal relations with the various actors of the organization, including the information the actors communicate regarding decisions and the procedures followed to make them. When people perceive that they are treated fairly, positive consequences result for them and for their organizations. Thus, they tend to be more satisfied, evaluate their management more favorably, engage in more prosocial behaviors within their organizations, perform at higher levels, and remain in their employing organizations for longer periods. When people experience unfair treatment, negative consequences include stress and health-related concerns for employees, negative attitudes toward the organization, and counterproductive behaviors, such as theft, vandalism, or absenteeism. People react strongly to fair or unfair treatment for different reasons. They may believe that fair treatment will allow them to receive the rewards that they deserve, it may communicate that they are valued in a group, or fair treatment may be valued as an important and basic principle of human functioning. Research on organizational justice in 2020 focuses on understanding the mechanisms producing fairness judgments and their consequences and on the boundary conditions limiting the observed relations with their antecedents and outcomes.
Iris Kranefeld, Gerhard Blickle, and James Meurs
Organizations are political environments, and, thus, individuals engage in political behavior in the workplace. As research on organizational politics grew, it became clear that some individuals are more successful at managing this landscape than others. This construct, termed political skill, was designed to capture the social savvy and competencies an individual needs to effectively achieve organizational and/or personal goals. Political skill comprises four key facets: first, social astuteness refers to the ability to understand others and social situations at work. Second, interpersonal influence comprises the capacity to persuasively communicate with others at work. Third, networking ability captures building, fostering, and using interpersonal relationships and connections to achieve work-related goals. Fourth, apparent sincerity entails conveying authenticity while influencing others at work. The composite construct and its facets are measured with the political skill inventory, which has been extensively validated across many countries and cultures.
Political skill positively associates with workplace and career outcomes such as job performance, job satisfaction, career advancement, stress management, leadership effectiveness, and team performance. It also serves as moderating variable, bolstering (or buffering) effects of individual or job characteristics on those same outcomes. Even though more research is needed that specifies mediating processes and moderating conditions, political skill is already a useful tool for personnel selection. However, a comprehensive training program has yet to be developed. Moreover, political skill can play a critical role in new forms of interaction via social media.
Employment generally entails a deal or a contract describing the exchange of work tasks, remuneration, and other obligations and entitlements. In addition to the formal agreement between the parties, the employment relationship also implicitly consists of perceptions and beliefs about what the deal really involves. This part of the relationship has been labeled the psychological contract (PC) and has been the focus of research for more than 50 years. Underlying principles for the employment relationship have been theories about social exchange and reciprocity. In line with these theories, the two parties aim to reciprocate what has been offered by the other party and achieve a balanced exchange. Clearly, the psychological contract is a useful theory for understanding the employment relationship, and how agreement or disagreement, very often based on unwritten and even unspoken perceptions, affect attitudes and behavior at work. Research confirming this notion has been abundant throughout the last decades. One conclusion, however, is that this research has been narrow, focusing heavily on employees’ perceptions of breach or violation of promises from employers. Results have shown negative effects on both attitudes and behavior toward the organization. Over the last decades, there has been an increasing interest in the interaction and processes involved in developing and maintaining psychological contracts and repairing them after perceptions of breach. There has been a debate about the definition of psychological contracts, and recent research shows a growing interest in the dynamics and interactions between employees and employers and the effect on that relationship. Still, there are many unanswered questions for research concerning the exchange, balance, and processes involved in maintaining and changing the employee-employer relationship. The changing labor market, as well as new forms of employment relationships developing as part of the gig economy (where workers get paid for the "gigs" they do, such as e.g., food delivery), also needs further investigation within this theoretical framework. Focus on the exchange and interaction between employees and employers has the potential to add new insight to previous organizational research, perhaps also expanding ideas about the very nature of that relationship. A definite advantage of the theory and concept of psychological contracts is their close connection to and applicability for management.
Birgit Schyns, Susanne Braun, and Barbara Wisse
Dark Triad personality traits in the workplace comprise the traits narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. The Dark Triad, and its relationships with individual and organizational variables, has received increasing attention in organizational behavior research. These three traits share a lack of concern for others but also have idiosyncratic attributes. Narcissism is characterized by a sense of entitlement and self-absorption. Machiavellianism comprises a focus on instrumentality and willingness to engage in manipulation. Psychopathy, possibly the darkest of the three traits, renders individuals callous, impulsive, and displaying antisocial behavior. While Dark Triad traits may be adaptive in some regards (e.g., narcissism facilitates leadership emergence), the majority of empirical findings point to the damage that individuals high in those traits can do to other organizational members and effective organizational functioning.
George P. Huber and Jean M. Bartunek
A “change” is a difference in an entity’s state, condition, or property that occurs across an interval of time and can take place in multiple ways. The scope and variety of organization changes make evident that organization change is a familiar and crucial feature of society’s ecosystem. In this chapter we explore multiple types of changes that occur in and among organizations.
To appreciate organizational change, it is necessary to understand organizations per se. Thus, we begin by summarizing pertinent literature that defines central characteristics of organizations. Following conventional usage, the term “organization” refers to a purposeful hierarchical human system whose members contribute their efforts or other resources to the system in order to acquire valued resources, such as their livelihood. Organizations are created for multiple types of purposes. Our emphasis is primarily on business organizations, which are created for the purpose of generating wealth for their creators and owners.
After discussing organizations, we then turn to our main focus, organizational change. This refers, not only to changes at the organization level of analysis but also at other levels of analysis, ranging from individuals such as the organization’s chief executive officer to populations of organizations. We present topics that address contemporary understandings of organizational change.
That is, we discuss sources of change in external organizational environments and organizational responses to such change. We then discuss varieties of organizational change, including population level changes, and changes within individual organizations, including changes initiated by middle managers, organizational learning and unlearning and top management change. Next we move to planned organizational change. This includes changes in culture as well as forms of organization development and forms of whole systems changes, as well as multiple dimensions, of these types of changes.
Finally, we describe emerging topics in organizational change, including temporal dimensions, radical and continuous change, dialectical and paradoxical change, emergence, and decline, death and rebirth. Taken together, these topics suggest what organizational change research has explored up to the present. The topics also suggest agendas for new exploration.
Vicente González-Romá and Ana Hernández
Human behavior takes place in different contexts (e.g., organizations, schools, families, sports teams, and communities) whose properties (e.g., climate, culture, cohesion, leadership, communication networks, and structure) influence human behavior. To estimate this influence, researchers need appropriate methods that avoid the problems associated with the application of standard Ordinary Least Square (OLS) regression.
Multilevel modeling methods offer researchers a way to estimate the aforementioned influence. These methods take into account that the variables involved reside at different levels. For instance, in the relationship between work unit climate and employee job satisfaction, the former variable resides at the work unit level (level 2) whereas the latter resides at the individual one (level 1). Moreover, multilevel modeling methods also take into account that the data analyzed to estimate this type of relationships have a nested structure in which individuals (e.g., employees) are nested into collectives (e.g., work units). Finally, these methods decompose variance into between-group and within-group components and allow researchers to model variability at the between and within levels.
Specifically, multilevel modeling methods allow researchers to test hypotheses that involve, among others: 1. A relationship between a higher-level predictor (e.g., work unit climate) and a lower-level outcome (e.g., employee job satisfaction); a so-called “direct cross-level effect”, and 2. An influence of a higher-level moderator (e.g., work unit climate) on an individual level relationship (e.g., the relationship between employee job stress and job satisfaction); a so-called “cross-level interaction”. Multilevel modeling methods can also be used to test more complex models involving mediation (e.g., 2-2-1, 2-1-1, or 1-1-1 models, depending on whether the antecedent and the mediator are level 1 or level 2 variables) and moderated mediation. We show how to test these models by presenting examples with real data and the corresponding SPSS syntax that readers can use to practice.
Ante Glavas and Mislav Radic
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is an important topic for both academics and practitioners because it potentially influences all aspects of an organization—from relationships with stakeholders to strategy to daily routines and practices. Thus, scholars have explored CSR for close to one hundred years. Prior research has been primarily conducted at the organizational and institutional levels, but has largely overlooked the individual-level of analysis, which is a major gap considering that CSR is enacted by and influences people. Recently, this gap has been addressed by an increased focus on the individual level of analysis—also known as “micro-CSR.” However, CSR is a multilevel construct, so even when focusing on the individual level, all levels need to be taken into consideration at the same time. Moreover, CSR is cross-disciplinary. Prior research has often focused on disciplines such as strategy, but fields such as psychology have much to offer—especially because CSR is conducted through and affects individuals. Moreover, due to the historical focus of CSR on the organizational level of analysis, most studies have aggregated CSR to the firm level. These studies have shown mixed results of the effects of CSR. One reason is that when CSR is aggregated, the variance at the individual level of analysis is lost. Employees might react both positively and negatively to CSR. For example, CSR is often extra-role (e.g., volunteering, being part of committees) and can have a negative effect of role strain and stress. For other employees, they might find tension with the way that CSR is carried out. Future research could dive more deeply into the psychology of CSR and how, when, and why employees might react to CSR differently.
Regine Bendl, Astrid Hainzl, and Heike Mensi-Klarbach
Diversity in the workplace, with a central focus on gender, sexual orientation, age, ethnicity, (dis)ability, and religious belief, has become a major issue in organizations worldwide since the 1990s. How these different diversity dimensions are defined and constructed, as well as by whom and in what context, determines organizational practices. In turn, this determines the transformation of organizations from exclusive to inclusive ones.
The workplace is one context of social interaction, in which dimensions of diversity become highly relevant and visible. Depending on the organization’s perspective toward diversity in a managerial context, individual differences between employees can create value and foster innovation and creativity, or can lead to conflict. How diversity is constructed and reproduced within diversity management and inclusion determines how employees feel accepted and included and, thus, how they are able to realize their potential and to contribute to the organization’s vision and aims. However, legitimizing initiatives that foster diversity in the workplace only with potential profits it might generate – called the business case for diversity – and forgetting its roots in the moral case, has shortcomings and potential drawbacks on the aims of diversity management and inclusion.
Research on diversity in the workplace can be found in different forms. Generally, there are two main groups. Mainstream diversity literature works within the positivist research tradition and focuses mostly on the performance aspects of diverse workforces by conducting quantitative empirical studies. Critical diversity literature aims at promoting social justice by deeply understanding, criticizing and developing possible solutions. Both research streams have contributed to comprehend diversity in the workplace, realize its potentials and support marginalized groups.