The Role of Stated Organizational Values in Times of Change and Crisis

Stewart Arnold (2010). The Role of Stated Organizational Values in Times of Change and Crisis PhD Thesis, School of Business, The University of Queensland.

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Author Stewart Arnold
Thesis Title The Role of Stated Organizational Values in Times of Change and Crisis
School, Centre or Institute School of Business
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010-03
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Professor Victor J Callan
Dr Maree Boyle
Total pages 267
Total black and white pages 267
Subjects 15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
Abstract/Summary Weick (2006) calls for researchers to investigate how employees ‘hold it together’ during periods when organizational routine and order are challenged. This thesis focuses on employee experiences during two types of organizational upheaval: periods of planned, large-scale organizational change and periods of organizational crisis triggered by external events. In both conditions, employees can react negatively. This leads to failure to cope with the current situation and with future situations that pose similar threats and challenges. On the other hand, if employees can make sense of a threatening, challenging situation, the outcomes are more positive for them as individuals and for the organization as a whole. Weick’s (1988) concept of sensemaking is used as a guiding framework for investigating the experiences, attitudes, and actions reported by employees in times of organizational change and crisis. The general assertion of the thesis is that the espoused and enacted values of an organization provide sensemaking cues to employees in difficult times. More specifically, the role of stated organizational values is examined. Organizational values are often stated as a set of principles that provide guidance for employees, particularly as part of a managing-by-values approach. The context for the research program is the healthcare industry, because values are very important for healthcare employees. Moreover, healthcare organizations must continue to function optimally during challenging conditions. Three research studies are reported. Study 1 was conducted in an Australian public hospital that was undergoing large-scale change. Thirty-five employees from a range of occupations were interviewed midway through the five-year period of change. Thematic analysis of their interviews revealed that employees mostly reported negative experiences of the change program. Furthermore, employees made sense of the change program by focusing on specific cues in their situation. One such cue was the organization’s strongly promoted set of ‘core values’. The stated values were seen to be a visible symbol of the hospital’s principles, but there were negative perceptions about how well these principles were enacted. Study 2 was conducted in a public hospital in Singapore exposed to a crisis situation due to the SARS virus in 2003. Thirty-one employees from a range of occupations were interviewed four months after the outbreak had ended. Twenty of these participants returned for a second interview, one week after the first interview. A card sort procedure and thematic analysis of the interview data were used to investigate employees’ experiences of the crisis. Results revealed that employees made sense of the crisis through identification with their profession and their organization. They also perceived that the hospital’s actions during the crisis were consistent with its written set of organizational values. In addition, employees identified a number of organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs) that they had shown during the crisis. Study 3 was conducted at three hospitals in Singapore. A pilot study involved 24 employees from a public hospital. They engaged in a focus group discussion about professionalism and they refined a set of hospital-specific employee behaviors that could potentially be classified as OCBs. The main study involved survey completion by a stratified sample of employees from another public hospital (n= 214) and from a private hospital (n=184). All respondents were invited to complete a second survey (measuring related variables) three weeks after the first survey. Analysis of 301 usable survey responses revealed findings that contribute to different literatures. Firstly, asking respondents to rate OCBs according to whether they were voluntary, unrewarded, and beneficial to the organization, revealed that many OCB items used in previous research were not perceived as being ‘true OCBs’ by the survey respondents. Furthermore, despite the use of many possible OCB dimensions, the true OCB items were factor analyzed into just two factors. One factor reflected OCBOs, which are behaviors directed towards the organization as a whole, while the other factor reflected OCBIs, which are behaviors directed towards other individuals. A second contribution is the suggestion that employees’ sense of ‘professionalism’ is a single construct. Survey respondents did not distinguish between professional identification and professional commitment in the same way as organizational identification and commitment were differentiated. Professionalism was weakly related to tendency to engage in OCBOs and more strongly related to tendency to engage in OCBIs. Finally, the main contribution to the values literature is the development of the concept of ‘organizational values integrity’ (OVI). This is conceptualized as the perceived alignment between organizational actions and organizational words, especially those words espoused in values statements. Structural equation modeling revealed that OVI influenced organizational identification and organizational commitment, which both mediated the impact of OVI on OCBOs. Furthermore, OVI had a direct impact on OCBOs. Overall, this thesis highlights employee perceptions that the organization acts in ways that are aligned to its stated values as important influences on employee attitudes and OCBs, particularly in difficult times. Implications for managerial practice and further research are discussed.
Keyword organizational values
organizational change
organizational crisis
organizational citizenship behaviors
Additional Notes Nil

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Created: Thu, 18 Mar 2010, 14:44:58 EST by Mr Stewart Arnold on behalf of Library - Information Access Service