Discipline: Business Studies
Type of Paper: Discussion Essay
Academic Level: High school
Paper Format: APA
Each reply must be a paragraph long of at least 550 words or more not including references which should supported by citing at least 4 peer-reviewed journal articles between 2017-2021 for each reply. Your reply must be in current APA format and must include a reference list. Make sure that you are adding new and relevant information with each reply. Reference sample make sure to include DOI-Drollinger, T., Comer, L. B., & Warrington, P. T. (2006). Development and validation of the active empathetic listening scale. Psychology & Marketing, 23(2), 161-180. https://doi.org/10.1002/mar.20105
The purpose of this discussion is to provide scholarly research specific to the areas of organizational contingency theory with an emphasis on peripheral analysis that quantifies and qualifies the impact of technology, social boundaries, and labor division on organizational structures. An in-depth evaluation will be provided to validate existing research in this domain. As well as areas of opportunity for future research within this discipline of study.
Keywords: Contingency Theory, Technology, Social and Cultural Factors, Organizational Boundaries
Since the original conception regarding organizational design (OD) models and theories, scholars have invested in researching the various influences that impact organizational structure. In the years that have followed many things have changed. All of which contribute to how organizations are either intentionally or organically constructed.
With the dawn of technology, especially artificial intelligence (AI), organizations as entities have become more dynamic. This inevitably has an influence on how employees interact with management and organizational culture – defined by standard operating procedures, policies, and processes. The nature of work has significantly changed from the environments in which theoretical perspectives were originally conceived.
In this discussion post, the evolution of theory, organizational design, and the dynamics of complex globalized organizations will be visited through the lens of new research. Taking a surgical precision to view changes through the lens of technology structures and social factors. All of which create new challenges.
With a broad landscape of scholarly research within the last 10-years, the narrative of this discussion will solely focus on the concept of contingency theory. Contingency theory in layman’s terms is an organizational design that is most influenced by factors that include strategy formation, environmental impact, size of the organization, the age of the organization, and the influence of technology (Frankslide.com, n.d.).
Based upon prior studies in this course, these elements have their roots in rational, natural, and open systems perspectives. Despite the frameworks most common to each theoretical system, the contingent theory approach emphasizes that organizational design models are in response to the factors that most influence organizational performance. As current research reveals, organizations strive to achieve an optimal state as “contingent” or “dependent” (Frankslide.com, n.d.) based upon the combined internal and external environment.
Structural models, originally examined by Lawerence and Lorsch’s contingency theory (Scott et al., 2007) was the initial starting point. In the years since other scholars have added to this logic by expanding upon the adaptive nature of contingency theory. In short, organizations are not static entities and in a rapidly advancing environment that includes technology and other social norms, the emphasis is in understanding with objective-based evidence the totality of how technology and social-cultural norms direct organizations to adapt.
Contingency Theory of Organizational Design – Research Analysis
Woodward examines the relationships between the internal mechanisms at varying levels of skill and structural affiliations (Scott et al., 2007) to develop three subsets or dimensions to further explain the interdependencies between an organization’s internal environment and its response to technological advancements. These included “complexity and diversity, uncertainty and unpredictably, and interdependence” (Scott et al. 2007, p. 126).
With a global pandemic that has droned on for two years, there has never been a more practical examination into the real-world relevance of these earlier dimensions. There is no one way to best manage an organization. Even the most rigorous and widely adopted system is susceptible when confronted with a major crisis. Contingency is not only inclusive of how a company or firm responds in times of crisis but moreover the adaptability of the organizational framework to survive during difficult times.
Drawing from practical real-world experience, as a global supply chain executive, working with many Fortune 100 and 500 organizations, there is a consistent thread by which nearly every organization was forced to re-evaluate their OD. Shifting from an onsite to a remote work environment. Balancing the need to quickly advance their digital ecosystems to become more agile and dynamic – managing through economical and environmental uncertainties.
There is a consequence to established cultural values, social imperatives, and overarching organizational boundaries as addressed by Tandon and Nair, citing “constantly face the challenge of harnessing physical, human and knowledge resources, and yet develop and deliver innovative, customized products and services (henceforth “solutions”) for their target communities” (Tandon & Nair 2019, p. 260). Their seminal research largely focused on non-profits, but the tenets of their research provide insightful evidence that can be transferrable to organizations of within multiple industry segments. An organization’s response is framed by two qualities – social and competency (Tandon et al., 2019).
Defining boundaries with respect to technology, AI, machine learning, and other systems is important to an organization preserving its core system perspective. To fully maximize the contributions of stakeholders there must be a unified “contingent” goal surrounding the assimilation of knowledge, network systems, integration, and resources.
Another scholarly approach is to identify current trends within a globalized organizational framework, by researching government organizations, primarily their difference across markets – countries of origin. This research highlights the importance of social structures and management competencies in the adoption of innovative solutions. Variations in management philosophies in public sectors can explain the interconnectedness in support of contingency theory (George & Van de Walle, 2019). The conclusion rests upon the influences of managerial theories and practices as a lever in organizational structure. Primarily in how a company embraces technology and digital system capabilities within their internal workings. Stressing adoption of the workforce that impacts cultural elements. Management is a fundamental contributor to OD and systems perspective adoption.
Mature organizations tend to migrate to an open system model directed by “client-oriented” and “organizational-oriented” management tools (George et al., 2019). Further explaining the critical importance of efficiency and effectiveness within government offices and institutions to promote more responsive organizational environments that can thrive and survive in uncertain times. As previously discussed in a rational system, goal orientation is a primary driver – in those organizations with rational model effectiveness and efficiency is most critical in paving the way to the attainment of predetermined business goals. Thus, research accentuates management tools as a decisive factor in the implementation of a contingency theory to OD.
Another important research topic identified from subsequent research on the merits of this module content. Technological advancements have influence over communication channels. AI systems and humans are said to not fit together perfectly – many times in direct opposition – so how do organizations bridge the difference in their communication framework to make sense of AI adoption (Abedin, 2020). In the past 24-months, there has been a new vigorous commitment to digital systems upgrades, implementation, and adoption. Various technology enabling tools such as blockchain, predictive analytics, enterprise resource management (ERP), procurement optimization, spend analytics, omnichannel digital synergies, IoT, CRM, human resource management software, machine learning, and other AI tools. All of which significantly alter the internal environment of an organization.
In the spirit of enterprise-wide change management, technology adoption at any level is dependent upon, among many things, the communication strategy for introducing digital transformation. Applying contingency theory to this topic, Abedin’s research stresses contradictions between traditional management theories and emerging principles of task-performance fitness and environmental uncertainty (Abedin, 2020). Placing an emphasis on among other influences the explainability of effectiveness in internal organizational environments as it impacts the overall discipline in acceptance of crucial cultural changes.
In this light, contingency theory can help to explain and refocus management competencies to better address organizational structure by mitigating disruptions through effective and transparent communication channels. Engaging users and stakeholders to the benefits of AI and SI design. It is worth noting, what Abedin’s research does not explore is the rapid pace of adoption of digital solutions in an organizational environment. From other reading in trade publications within the global supply chain, it is often referenced that digital transformations fail because it ignores “people” in the system design. Alienating employees who do not have buy-in and equally who are not fully equipped to understand the importance of transformational initiatives. Becoming overwhelmed by the speed of change and adoption of AI tools – breaking down existing organizational structures and subsets that disengage institutional constituents.
Another counter perspective that adds to the depth of understanding of contingency theory is investigative research conducted by Brian Britt in his journal article entitled, From cooperation to competition: an interaction-based contingency theory of communities of practice. The research, unlike similar scholarly peer-review articles, focuses on the relationship between the role of competition in the collapse of social communities. By definition, communities are “maintain reasonably clear boundaries on the construct while still offering straightforward generalizability to work and non-work contexts such that the resulting theory is similarly useful across contexts” (Britt 2020, p. 1595).
Fundamentally the conclusions reached stress a disconnect between labor and the organization (CoPs) that negatively impacts cooperation, motivation, and the conflict with the self-interest of individuals in direct opposition to organizational structure (Britt, 2020). Contingency theory allows organizations to adapt to these pressures of disconnectedness. Self-interest directs employee behavior, even to the point of self-preservation, which can lead to the downfall or fragmenting of a group – community (Britt, 2020).
One case study shared is how a company’s leadership redirected the focus to external competition versus internal competition. Believing that individuals would rally around competition with competitors as a transformative psychological influencer that promotes goal achievement. Conclusion identified that this alone did not undercut employees’ shortsightedness in promoting personal interest – behaviors negatively impacting organizational and social cultures. Prior assumptions were dispelled. Adding “studies of CoPs that have previously defied satisfactory explanations, including those facilitated by social media and other new technologies (Britt et al., 2020). Such communities can target a broader range of domains and practices than was previously feasible and may emerge as interested individuals congregate rather than being deliberately designed by a larger organization, facilitating different community structures and member interactions than early conceptions of CoPs anticipated” (Britt 2020, p. 1614).
Across all research conducted for this module, the culmination of peer-review scholarly articles on contingency theory suggested that organizations must survive by convincing the public of their value and legitimacy (Battilana & Casciaro, 2012). An organization’s ability to survive in a rapidly transformative technological environment is largely directed by managerial tools, practices, and adaptability. Herein is where contingency theory is applicable. Interactional and inter-organizational paradigms provide insights that can be translated into theoretical organizational systems. Change agents play an important role in contingency theory, especially in the realm of social boundaries, social norms, social values, and social recognition of an organization.
Through this lens, readers are afforded a counter perspective to the practical implications of contingency theory and the subsequent adaptability of an organization to navigate important internal and external changes without alienating its workforce. Bringing full circle the value of structural change, communication, and change control over an institution constituencies by leveraging information that shows benefits as a persuasive tool (Battilana et al., 2012).
Assessing the research applied, emerging research benefits from a more expansive examination of the design theories in their varying practical application with data points that mark key indicators of change management. Articulating how in a new era of technology and digital capabilities with changing workforce demographics, structural design and OD theories are adopted. There is also a benefit in diversifying studies from more generalized conceptual analysis to targeting large globalized multi-disciplinary organizations. With a dynamic structure that can impede the adoption of shifting technology and social norms. Inclusive of the division of labor inputs.
There too is a benefit in future research seeking to better identify and understand the relationship between social theory and organizational theory – unifying the two into a single examination as it acts as a lever within organizational models. Both in survival and collapse of major organizations or institutions.
To this end, leadership connectedness to its workforce is a game-changer in the execution of contingency theory. Returning to initial concepts that directed theoretical formation on performance-based productivity, organizational effectiveness, leadership influence, and interdependencies between an organization and its employees. All contribute to the formation of structures both internally and externally intended to adapt to changes within the internal and external environments.
There are scriptures that indirectly speak to adaptability. Although not specific to contingency theory, there are lessons offered in the Bible that can be informative to this subject. Two scriptures are relevant to this discussion:
1 Corinthians 9:19-20 “For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law.” (ESV)
Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (ESV)
God’s wisdom implores us to follow His commandments above all else. If one should be in a position of managerial influence, applying contingency theory, and leading enterprise-wide changes, such wisdom from the Bible can be of benefit. For we are all reminded that our conviction as Christians is to God’s law not solely the law of man or organization.
Furthermore, “transformed and renewal” (Romans 12, ESV) abides us to embody a spiritual truth that can resonate in organizational and individual cultural values. Tailoring interactions, decisions, and communication with constituents from a Christ-centered perspective. Most importantly adopting servant leadership, integrity, transparency in communication, and a commitment to the good of others.
1 Corinthians shares another perspective that suggests “winning” others over. Regardless of whether operating in a rational, natural, open, or some other variation of organizational systems perspectives theories can be massaged to strive to balance the needs of both the organization and its workforce. Determining the best time to enact change, facilitate change, and adapt to broader social norms. Striking an internal balance with the external influences that impact organizational structure.
Lastly, since contingency theory has its roots in leadership and managerial tools, the Bible can provide additional perspectives on what it means to be a good and trusted leader. For example, “7 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith” Hebrews 13:7 (ESV). Beyond the secular influences, if in a leadership role or possessing an indirect leadership influence, one can follow scripture by shaping their own leadership practices to be more closely connected to the teachings of God. Finding strength in uncertain times and in evolving organizational structures to be a rock of consistency, servitude, humility, and preservation of the values of others.
I welcome any feedback to this discussion post. Whether agreeing with some of the arguments set forth or challenging interpretations of the research performed in completion of this discussion post.
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