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A Functional-Perspectivist Approach to Organizational Inquiry Steven F. Cronshaw.

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Presentation on theme: "A Functional-Perspectivist Approach to Organizational Inquiry Steven F. Cronshaw."— Presentation transcript:

1 A Functional-Perspectivist Approach to Organizational Inquiry Steven F. Cronshaw

2 What Is Functional-Perspectivism? Function: An activity that is natural to or the purpose of a person or thing Perspective: A particular way of seeing something

3 Epistemic Commitments of Functional-Perspectivism In the workplace people and things are perceived, categorized, and organized according to their function (e.g., uses for and of technology; work roles for people) In the workplace people and things are perceived, categorized, and organized according to their function (e.g., uses for and of technology; work roles for people) Emphasis is on the pre-predicative sphere (Husserl) Emphasis is on the pre-predicative sphere (Husserl) of raw experience of raw experience Theorizing in terms of shared perspectival Theorizing in terms of shared perspectival differences opens up creative potential and new differences opens up creative potential and new possibilities for science and practice possibilities for science and practice

4 FP relies on dialectics but not of the Hegelian sort, i.e., antimony of thesis and anti-thesis which is then resolved through synthesis At the level of dynamics in extended time FP relies on principles of equilibrium (dynamics) At the experiential level with the system in homeostasis and in immediate, i.e., fixed, time relies on FP dialectics as elision of ecological complexes that naturally occur in the workplace (statics)

5 An observation on the creative potential of perspectivism “ A shared perspective is the means by which questions take form; cross-perspectives are the means by which answers are developed. … Difference of perspective saves query from sterility and inanity.” Justus Buchler, Toward a General Theory of Human Judgement (1979) Buchler referred inter-personal differences in perspective; FP relies on intra-personal shifting and juxaposition of perspective as a means of enriching thought in organization science

6 An Illustration of Intra-Personal Perspectival Shift - The Duck-Rabbit From Ludwig Wittgenstein’s (1958) Philosophical Investigations

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8 The primary unit in FP is the concatenated ecological concept or CEC; for example, the worker-in-context) The CEC is subject to two existential operations (1)Direction of perspective By employing the Gestalt principles of figure-ground and reversability of perspective to bring different sides of the CEC into focus (2) Specificity of perspective By narrowing and broadening the details in the CEC to (1) bring out or submerge features of the work ecology and/or (2) move with the work system to qualitatively different levels of aggregation and gestalt organization

9 The operations of perspectival direction and specificity The operations of perspectival direction and specificity allowed epistemological existence and latitude within the space-time manifold by functional-perspectivism are defined by the (1) Existential operator of Concatenation representing the distinction between and elision representing the distinction between and elision of two ecological entities within a CEC so enabling shift of perspectival direction (Spencer-Brown, 1994) (Spencer-Brown, 1994) (2) Existential operator of Granulation representing the granularity shift (Granulation) within a CEC so enabling shift of perspectival specificity (Zadeh, 1979)

10 A Single-Cross Framework Using Functional-Perspectivism AdaptabilityAdaptation Results Consequences Functionality Function AffordancesResourcingPerformance PotentialAgencyImpact p c p c p p Work System Forms

11 The single-cross framework illustrates perspectival direction. Take adaptation and illustrate perspectival specificty. FP algebraic expression is p w d c. Adaptive Capability Adaptive Skill PF PF = Performance Feature

12 A Theory of Human Adaptation in the Workplace Dynamics –With dynamics one must introduce the concept of time. Time in its extended meaning is an essential consideration when it comes to studying FP dynamics. Some basic terms follow. Locus is the movement of the worker across and between their involvements in Things, Data, and People (TDP). Focus is the inward vs. outward-directed movement of the self during the process of workplace adaptation. Purpose is the directing of effort toward the achievement of instrumental personal or organizational goals (agency) or toward the safety, welfare, and comfort of others and improvement of workplace conditions as a whole (accommodation).

13 Some of My Research Co-investigators and Others Who Have Contributed to the Development of FP Ideas and Applications Perng Yih OngDamien O’Keefe Dara ChappellRebecca Slan Greg Chung-YanMelissa Warner Tammy KnodratukAllyson McElwain Shefali JethmalaniEvelina Rog Amanda MatejicekJessica Sherin Ashley McCullochAnuradha Chawla Betty OnyuraSebastian Houde

14 Pattern chart showing skills coalescence in worker age cohort

15 Pattern chart showing skills coalescence in worker age cohort

16 Statics – Some basic terms Constructive assertion (Wapner et al., 2000) is an integrated cognitive, affective, and behavioral response typified by worker efforts to proactively plan and assert the self into the environment to modify, control, and master environmental circumstances. Reactive engagement is a more passive and reactive style whereby the person largely accepts and works within the existing environmental arrangements. Disintegrative disengagement is a style whereby the person has major difficulties in coming to terms with the prevailing workplace arrangements and demands. The worker may flee from the situation physically or psychologically (avoidance), become angry, disruptive, and aggressive against others (reactance), or perseverate in repeated but unsuccessful attempts at an overly simplified, unrealistic, and inflexible solution to the adaptive problem at hand (perseverance).

17 Modal Adaptive Skills As Assessed By The POI For A General Workforce Sample In order of appearance in the profile going from left to right, the complete LFP structuple assignments for the adaptive skills graphically represented in this figure are: Things, Inward-directed, Agentic Things, Inward-directed, Accommodative Things, Outward-Directed, Agentic Things, Outward-directed, Accommodative Data, Inward-directed, Agentic Data, Inward-directed, Accommodative Data, Outward-Directed, Agentic Data, Outward-directed, Accommodative People, Inward-directed, Agentic People, Inward-directed, Accommodative People, Outward-Directed, Agentic People, Outward-directed, Accommodative

18 Adaptation Enables Function in the Workplace Proposition: Adaptation enables function Measurements of: Adaptation – Performance-Oriented Interview Function – Application of TDP complexity scales to data from the Job Descriptive Interview Sample: Workers from general labour force

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22 Affordances as Potential in the Proximal Workplace Context Dynamics – Some basic terms 1. Locus represents the changing availability of physical, informational, and social resources to the worker within the proximal context 2. Focus is the movement of the proximal work system either toward its own functioning, i.e., internalizing, or toward the demands of the distal context, i.e., externalizing. 3. Purpose is the movement of the proximal work system toward either productive or accommodative goals.

23 Statics – Some basic terms Facilitating Affordances Features of the proximal context that enable the whole person to constructively engage his or her skill potential to achieve the most positive performance contribution from both worker and management perspectives Constraining Affordances Features of the proximal context that allow the person to incompletely engage his or her skills and effort/control within the given context, thereby decreasing performance contribution (in terms of timeliness, quality, quantity, and/or learning) but permitting eventual task completion Blocking Affordances Features of the proximal context that bring the person to a standstill or stalemate (in terms of task completion) in the pursuit of organizationally-sanctioned goals and thereby prevent even minimal engagement of worker skills

24 Conditions as Potential in the Distal Workplace Context Dynamics – Some basic terms 1. Locus represents the changing availability of physical, informational, and social resources to the work-doing system within the distal context 2. Focus is the movement of the distal work-doing system either toward its own functioning, i.e., internalizing, or toward the demands of the supra-distal context, i.e., externalizing. 3. Purpose is the movement of the distal work-doing system toward either productive or accommodative goals.

25 Statics – Some basic terms Facilitating Conditions Those resource availabilities, strategic opportunities, and facilitating affordances, both internal and external, that when present and engaged evolve the working-doing system away from homeostasis and toward an alternate desired state Constraining Conditions Those resource restrictions, structural and process limitations, and constraining affordances, both internal and external, that when present and engaged can constrain but do not prevent evolution of the work-doing system away from homeostasis and toward an alternate desired state

26 Blocking Conditions Those structures, processes, habits, resistances, and blocking affordances, both internal and external, that hold the work-doing system in homeostasis and thereby prevent evolution toward an alternate desired state

27 A Single-Cross Framework Using Functional-Perspectivism Work System Forms PotentialAgencyImpact AffordancesResourcingPerformance ConditionsDevelopment c p c d c d c p Efficiency Effectiveness Productivity

28 Conclusion Functional-perspectivism is a thought system that offers many possibilities for innovation in research and practice, but much additional work must be done to further adumbrate its varied aspects on the paradigmatic, theoretical, methodological, measurement and practical levels.


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