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Practising socializing and institutionalizing
Article Type: Guest editorial From: Society and Business Review, Volume 5, Issue 2
About the Guest Editors
Elena Antonacopoulou is a Professor of Organizational Behavior at the University of Liverpool Management School where she leads GNOSIS – a research initiative advancing practice relevant management scholarship. Her principal research interests include change and learning practices in organizations and the development of new methodologies for studying social complexity. She is currently undertaking a series of research projects in organizational learning, social practice, and dynamic capabilities working collaboratively with leading researchers internationally and with practitioners and policy makers in co-creating knowledge for action. She writes on all the above areas and her work is published in international journals such as Organization Studies, Journal of Management Studies, Academy of Management Review. She is currently Subject Editor for organizational learning and knowledge for the Emergence: Complexity and Organizational Journal and has recently completed a five-year term as joint Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal Management Learning. She serves on the Editorial Board of Organization Science, Academy of Management Learning and Education Journal and Society, Business and Organization Journal, Irish Journal of Management. She has recently completed a four year prestigious Senior Research Fellowship as part of the Advanced Institute of Management Research. She has served on the EGOS Board for two terms (six years) and has been elected in several positions at Board and Executive levels at the Academy of Management (USA) where she has now been appointed to lead the Practice Theme Committee.
Wolfgang Güttel is a Professor for Human Resource and Change Management at the Johannes Kepler University Linz (Austria). Previously, he served as Full Professor at the University of Kassel (Germany) and as temporary Professor at the Universities of Hamburg (Germany) and Kassel (Germany), Research Fellow at the Universities of Padua (Italy) and Liverpool (the UK), and an Assistant Professor at the WU Vienna (Austria). His main research field concerns strategic learning, i.e. linking learning, knowledge creation, transfer, and replication on individual, group, and organizational level with strategic objectives. In particular, organizational ambidexterity, i.e. the integration of competing learning modes of exploration and exploitation, dynamic capabilities, i.e. the firm’s mode to govern change, and replication, i.e. the transfer of successful business models in new markets, are investigated in relation to human resource and change management. Research results are presented at international conferences and published in several books and scholarly journals. Prior to his academic career, he acted as Management Consultant at Daimler-Benz AG in Stuttgart (Germany), at Diebold Management Consulting in Vienna (Austria) and as independent consultant within a consulting network (1997-2002).
Yvon Pesqueux is a Professor at Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, Head of the Chair “Développement des Systèmes d’Organisation.” PhD in Economics, University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (1975), his special interests are management, philosophy and ethics, business and society, and corporate social responsibility. He has published several scientific articles. His last books link Organization and Politics: Stakeholder Theory: A European Perspective (in collaboration with M. Bonnafous-Boucher), Palgrave-Macmillan, Basingstoke, UK, 2005, Management de la connaissance – Knowledge Management & Apprentissage organisationnel & Société de la connaissance, Economica, Paris, 2006 (in collaboration with M. Ferrary), Décider avec les parties prenantes (in collaboration with Maria Bonnafous-Boucher), Editions La découverte, collection “Recherche,” Paris, 2006, Gouvernance et privatisation, PUF, Paris, 2007, Management de la qualité, une analyse critique, Economica, Paris, 2008, Filosofia e organizaçoes, Cencage Learning, Sao Paulo, Brésil, 2008. He is also an Editor of Society and Business Review (Emerald Publishing – www.emeraldinsight.com/sbr.htm) and member of the Société Française de Management (SFM).
Perspectives on the societal, organizational, and individual effects of staff induction practices – part 2
The second part of the Society and Business Review (SBR) thematic issue offers three papers devoted to the questions of practice.
In the first part of the SBR thematic issue series of practising, socializing, and institutionalizing: perspectives on the societal, organizational, and individual effects of staff induction practices was devoted to two introductory papers and four illustrative papers on staff induction practices. Pesqueux and Antonacopoulou (2010) offered a thorough introduction into practice research that served as theoretical and empirical guidance in investigating staff induction practices. Antonacopoulou and Güttel’s (2010) analysis of the state of the field of socialization and staff induction research complemented the conceptual foundation of the first part of this thematic issue series. Although staff induction is a core process for organizational recreation where main values and norms of the organizational culture are transferred to newcomers, research lacks on an organizational perspective to investigate the practices of learning and knowledge transfer in order to complement psychological studies which focus on how the individual is socialized into the firm. Practice research provides a valuable perspective to investigate the dynamics in the way firms seeks to integrate newcomers into the existing organization drawing on past, present experiences continuously recreating the firm’s organizational memory in the process.
The empirical papers applied the practice perspective in order to investigate staff induction “in practice.” Bjorkeng and Clegg (2010) distinguished between authoring acts in which inductees make sense of themselves in relation to their practice and performative acts constructing practice. The authors show the dual dependency between becoming a practitioner and constructing a practice. Méric and Jardat (2010) explain how constant interrelations between ostensive and performative aspects of staff induction practices produce patterns of organizational immobility. Gherardi and Perotta (2010) identified different modes of induction. They conclude that the “same” practice assumes different situated features resulting from the ecology of actors that locally stabilize a situated practice and reciprocal power relations. Furthermore, the profession and the peer group act as a significant environment in staff induction.
The second part of the SBR thematic issue series contains three empirical papers that investigate staff induction and, thus, illustrate further the value adding contribution a practice research perspective to uncover organizational dynamics especially as agents and their structures transact. The focus on transaction as opposed to just interaction acknowledges the power dynamics at play and reminds us the centrality of tensions in the way practices are formed and performed (Antonacopoulou, 2008). The core theme that these papers enables us to explore in terms of the ways agents and structures transact is orientated towards employees learning of organizational practices as well as organizations’ learning from employees. Both sets of dynamics fuel the ongoing emergence of the practices and shape the specific changes that might be brought about to existing practices as well. The reciprocity between individual and organizational learning through induction practices and the resulting changes to the practice lies at the core of organizational dynamics that the authors of the selected papers of the second part of the thematic issue explicate further with reference to ideas including that of “dynamic capability” that has been attracting attention in the management field in recent years.
In “Induction – organizational renewal and the maintenance of status quo,” Jonas Sprogoe and Bente Elkjaer, according to a qualitative study of induction practices in two branches of a Danish retail bank and a Danish management consulting company explore how induction of newcomers can be understood as both organizational renewal and the maintenance of status quo. They seek to capture this tension by describing this in terms of learning. The paper provides two main findings:
That the duality of induction, in terms of organizational renewal and the maintenance of status quo can be conceptualized and meaningfully discussed through the metaphors of organizational rhythm and generative dance.
That if this ambiguous dimension of induction is recognized, organizational idiosyncrasies, ways of doing things and taken-for-granted aspects can be thrown up for discussion and thus potentially change or stabilize organizational practice based on persons and institutional order.
In “Understanding socialization practice: factors fostering and hindering its evolution,” Diego Ponte and Carlo Rizzi contribute to the debate on organizational socialization by addressing the evolution of socialization over time and in relation to other organizational practices. The paper relies on a case study analysis, which focuses on a consultancy multinational firm by studying the evolution of two main practices (socialization and knowledge management practices). The main result emerging from the study is that the evolution over time of the socialization practice (as well as the organization as a whole) very much depends on the alignment of a set of aspects such as the kind of practitioners, the principles surrounding the whole firm and its purposes.
In “Dynamic capability and staff induction practices in small firms,” Deborah E.M. Mulders, Peter A.J. Berends, and A. Georges L. Romme use the dynamic capability view to explain how particular practices ensure the firm’s performance and competitiveness within a continuously changing environment. In this paper, the staff-induction processes of two small firms in The Netherlands (management consultancy and biotech start-up) are examined from a practice-based view. It explores whether the staff-induction processes of these firms can be regarded as practices, and if so, whether and how these firms have developed a dynamic capability in staff induction. These data demonstrate that one firm did not develop a dynamic capability in its staff-induction practice, whereas the other firm formed a dynamic capability of continuously investing in improving its staff induction practice by articulating and codifying knowledge. The authors argue that staff induction needs to become a practice, in order to contribute to organizational performance and competitiveness in the long run.
Taken together, the papers in this second part of the thematic issue reinforce the fluidity of organizational practices even when bounded by institutionalisation. The underlying current that runs in both Part A and B thematic issues is the power of practising as an active process of experimenting with possibilities in the midst of action, interaction and transaction. In essence, with this perspective, we aim to extend the debate on practice-based studies. Perhaps, more fundamentally, instead of focusing narrowly on one perspective or orientation towards research that seeks to understand the micro-dynamics of complex social systems (be that at the societal, organizational or group level), we invite greater analysis of the unfolding processes and dynamic emergence that underpins complex social systems. This latter point is critical because it invites as a key focus of our analysis the possibilities imagined and imaginable for modes of organizing that are not restricted to what is known. In other words, the focus is not on actualities but on possibilities and by wondering what is possible we hope this provides scope to discover aspects of social complexity that our current lenses of studying organizations may be limiting our appreciation of. In short, looking into the future, we sincerely hope that this thematic issue invites readers of SBR to ponder about what more we can discover about the social dynamics that make social and business processes so complex. In doing so, hopefully we can take a fresh look at social practices too, and acknowledge that in the way these are performed in organizational settings – as organizational practices, e.g. induction practices – they provide a dynamic platform for organization to take place, for organizing to be experienced and for organizations to be born, developed and sustained over time. In that sense, we are content that whilst the thematic issue provides through the theoretical and empirical papers it presents a fresh perspective on staff induction and socialization practices it also generates a series of new questions that can inspire ongoing and further research on these themes that define the social character of organizing.
There are three other papers in this issue.
In “The discursive construction of decision making in interdisciplinary teams: social sustainability as political intervention?,” Nikolaj Kure, from the Center for Corporate Communication (Aarhus, Denmark) explores the analytical productiveness of a discursive power perspective in understanding interdisciplinary teams inefficient decision processes, and discusses the ethical consequences of such an approach. Based on a case study of an interdisciplinary team in a Danish hospital, the paper analyzes the team’s decision practices as a result of discursive power operations that privilege and marginalize groups and persons. The paper shows that a discourse of equality dominates the team’s decision practices. This produces a tendency among members to word observations as reflections whereas expert assessments are rendered unlikely and unwelcome. The paper demonstrates that this analysis is productive in understanding why interdisciplinary teams struggle to develop efficient decision processes. Furthermore, the paper suggests that managers should respond ethically to these discursive power operations with political interventions.
In “Home-based business sectors in the rural economy,” Robert Newbery and Gary Bosworth propose meaningful sub-sectors of home-based business (HBB) that fit within contemporary rural economic development theory. The paper is based on a survey analysis of rural microbusinesses in the North-east of England to compare home based and other rural microbusinesses to illustrate their defining characteristics. Case study interviews are then used to test theory development and provide greater understanding about the motivations and aspirations of HBB owners.
In “Japanese business and poverty reduction,” Hideyuki Sugawara examines inspiring ideas in which Japanese companies are finding innovative ways to tap into markets to increase their profit while simultaneously reducing poverty. Japanese companies have five strengths that make it possible: a steadfast philosophy, a strong sense of mission, a long-term perspective, a Gemba-oriented stance (Gemba is a Japanese word meaning “the actual place,” which, in managerial issues, is a way of looking at waste and opportunities to process innovation) and high-quality goods and services.
Elena Antonacopoulou, Wolfgang Güttel, Yvon PesqueuxGuest Editors
Antonacopoulou, E.P. (2008), “On the practise of practice: in-tensions and ex-tensions in the ongoing reconfiguration of practice”, in Barry, D. and Hansen, H. (Eds), Handbook of New Approaches to Organization Studies, Sage, London, pp. 112–31
Antonacopoulou, E.P. and Güttel, W.H. (2010), “Staff induction practices and organizational socialization: a review and extension of the debate”, Society and Business Review, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 22–47
Bjorkeng, K. and Clegg, S. (2010), “Becoming DragonBankers”, Society and Business Review, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 48–65
Gherardi, S. and Perotta, M. (2010), “Where is induction? Profession, peer group and organization in contention”, Society and Business Review, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 84–98
Méric, J. and Jardat, R. (2010), “Induction as an institutionalized and institutionalizing practice: insights from retail banking and management consulting in France”, Society and Business Review, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 66–83
Pesqueux, Y. and Antonacopoulou, E.P. (2010), “The practice of socialization and the socialization of practice”, Society and Business Review, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 10–21