Interactions between Ideas and Behaviour in Organizations
Journal article, 2016
Purpose: To develop and test a framework which can be used to facilitate the understanding of how ideas interact with behaviour in organizations, in ways that have practical relevance in organizational development and improvement.
Design/methodology/approach: The framework proposed in this paper is the product of an abductive research process. This process involved testing and reflecting in action, and on action when writing. The emerging framework was also challenged by theoretical input from continual literature studies and has (at different stages of its development) been part of the theoretical framework for a PhD dissertation, research articles and master’s theses.
Findings: The framework graphically highlights the relationship between explicit (i.e., spoken or documented) and tacit ideas, and that the latter is what largely controls action. It also implies that for new explicit ideas or theories to become effective, which is normally the purpose of improvement initiatives, they have to become part of the tacit guiding ideas. This is often quite difficult to achieve. The framework gives a perspective on why this is the case and how it can be counteracted. Examples of measures indicated include seeing development as iterative and contextual, and supporting sense-making and learning by doing. Another example is to address the coherence between the parts of the framework: what is said, documented, and done.
Practical implications: The framework has been tested with practitioners and has rapidly assisted professionals in making explicit, and developing, the tacit knowledge they have of the specific problem/opportunity areas for their respective organizations. It has also been successfully used in analyses in several papers, including studies of sustainability and process management.
Originality/value: The implications of the framework are in line with existing research, yet we believe that the graphical model adds both scientific and practical dimensions. This is partly due to the framework making it easier to differentiate between complex concepts that are often confused.