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Analyzing roles and leadership in organizations from cognitive complexity and meaning-making perspectives
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Industrial Economics and Management (Dept.).
Malmö University, Malmö, Sweden..
Högskolan i Jönköping, Hälsohögskolan, The Jönköping Academy for Improvement of Health and Welfare. Högskolan i Jönköping, Hälsohögskolan, HHJ. IMPROVE (Improvement, innovation, and leadership in health and welfare)..ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8952-8773
2018 (English)In: Behavioral Development, ISSN 1942-0722, Vol. 23, no 1, p. 63-80Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Organizations can be seen as social systems with hierarchical structures and roles at different levels of complexity with correspondingly different complexity of tasks. This article applies the perspectives of two theories from the field of adult development, namely, the model of hierarchical complexity (MHC) and ego development theory (EDT) to analyze stratified systems theory (SST). Although the theories are not regarded as strictly comparable and commensurable on account of differences in basic assumptions and methods of the theories, the analysis leads to the conclusion that descriptions of role complexity and individual capabilities in SST, to some extent, correspond to descriptions of developmental levels according to the MHC and EDT. Both comparisons support the notion that task and leadership complexity increases with organizational level, and thereby demonstrates support for the existence of qualitatively different levels of leadership. However, based on the methodological choices of the study, it is beyond the scope of the article to validate the key concepts, constructs in SST, as well as provide support or nonsupport for the proposed value of application in practice. Furthermore, we point out the lack of a more thorough analysis and comparison between the theories built on rich empirical material. Nevertheless, we conclude that the MHC, EDT and SST are fruitful lenses that can further the understanding of organizations as social systems with hierarchical structures.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
American Psychological Association (APA) , 2018. Vol. 23, no 1, p. 63-80
Keywords [en]
role complexity, leadership at different levels, the model of hierarchical complexity, ego development theory, stratified systems theory, Work Sciences, Arbetslivsstudier
National Category
Work Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-234659DOI: 10.1037/bdb0000067OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-234659DiVA, id: diva2:1246452
Note

QC 20180907

Available from: 2018-09-07 Created: 2018-09-07 Last updated: 2020-05-15Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Organizational Design and Leadership Development: The Role of Increasing Complexity​
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Organizational Design and Leadership Development: The Role of Increasing Complexity​
2020 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Many organizations need to adapt to increasingly complex environments. New forms of organizational design and leadership are called for and, under some circumstances, more collective leadership practices are needed. Furthermore, values and beliefs in some societal contexts foster a general positive bias for collective leadership. Paradoxically, many investment decisions regarding leadership development activities do not pay off. At the same time, the research fields of collective leadership development and on-the-job leader development are underutilized. The research field of leadership is in need of consolidation and integration within and between research areas. There has been much less research done on collective leadership development compared with leader development, and research on leadership development has been focused more on individual and collective change rather than on contextual facilitating factors such as organizational design.

To address these theoretical and practical challenges, the aim of the thesis was to explore organizational design and leadership development in terms of increasing complexity in the empirical context of technology-, knowledge-, and project-intensive organizations. The research design was centered around two studies that were part of a larger interactive research project and two conceptual studies that jointly investigated (1) organizational design and increasing complexity, (2) leadership development and increasing complexity, (3) how increasingly complex organizational design can foster leadership development. The interactive research project had four goals in terms of creating common learning for the project partners involved, new academic knowledge, and organizational development not only for the participating organizations but also for organizations in general.

The thesis contributes to the research fields of organizational design and leadership development as well as their intersection. It adds to theory by providing a more fine-grained definition of ways of understanding leadership development according to increasing complexity. Furthermore, it adds to the understanding of how increasingly complex organizational design can foster leadership development, especially collective leadership, thus demonstrating empirical examples of leadership development without traditional leadership development investments.

The thesis proposes future research on emerging technology as an accelerator for leadership development and interactive research in partnership with organizations in order to further integrate the research fields of organizational design and leadership development. In terms of managerial contributions, a number of suggestions are offered to support better knowledge creation and decision-making regarding organizational design, on-the-job leader development, and especially collective leadership development. Furthermore, a shift from a psychology-centered leadership development approach toward more of a systemic and organizational design-centered leadership development approach that includes both individual and collective dimensions is called for. This shift will potentially change the leadership development industry, making many of the contemporary investments in leadership development obsolete.

Abstract [sv]

Många organisationer måste anpassa sig till en allt mer komplex kontext. Nya former av organisationsdesign och ledarskap krävs och under vissa omständigheter behövs ett mer kollektivt ledarskap. Dessutom verkar många organisationer i en samhällelig kontext med förändrade värderingar och övertygelser, som på olika sätt driver fram en positiv attityd till kollektivt ledarskap. Paradoxalt nog är det många investeringsbeslut avseende ledarskapsutveckling som inte genererar önskvärda resultat. Samtidigt är forskningsområdena kollektiv ledarskapsutveckling och ledarutveckling på arbetsplatsen underutnyttjade. Ledarskapskapsforsningen är i behov av konsolidering och integration inom och mellan forskningsområden. Området kollektiv ledarskapsutveckling är betydligt mindre beforskat jämfört med individuell ledarutveckling. Vidare har forskning inom ledarskapsutveckling fokuserat mer på såväl individuell som kollektiv förändring än på kontextuella stödjande faktorer så som organisationsdesign.

För att belysa dessa teoretiska och praktiska utmaningar var syftet med avhandlingen att studera organisationsdesign och ledarskapsutveckling i termer av ökande komplexitet. Detta gjordes i en empirisk kontext av teknik-, kunskaps- och projektintensiva organisationer. Forskningsdesignen var centrerad kring två studier som ingick i ett större interaktivt forskningsprojekt och två konceptuella studier som gemensamt undersökte (1) organisationsdesign och ökande komplexitet, (2) ledarskapsutveckling och ökande komplexitet, (3) hur alltmer komplex organisationsdesign kan främja ledarskapsutveckling. Det interaktiva forskningsprojektet hade fyra mål i form av att skapa gemensamt lärande för de involverade projektpartnerna, ny akademisk kunskap, och organisationsutveckling, inte bara för de deltagande organisationerna utan också för organisationer i allmänhet.

Avhandlingen bidrar till forskningsområdena organisationsdesign och ledarskapsutveckling samt deras skärningspunkt. Den ger ett bidrag till teoribildningen inom ledarskapsutveckling genom att föreslå en mer nyanserad definition av sätt att förstå ledarskapsutveckling utifrån ökad komplexitet. Den bidrar även till förståelsen för hur en allt mer komplex organisationsdesign kan främja ledarskapsutveckling, särskilt kollektiv, och demonstrerar empiriskt hur detta kan ske utan traditionella investeringar i ledarskapsutveckling. 

Avhandlingen föreslår framtida forskning kring främst tillämpning av ny teknik som en accelerator för ledarskapsutveckling samt interaktiv forskning i samarbete med organisationer för att vidare integrera forskningsområdena organisationsdesign och ledarskapsutveckling. Vad gäller resultatens tillämpbarhet i praktiken presenteras ett antal förslag som bidrar till att öka kunskap och beslutsfattandeförmåga kring organisationsdesign, ledarutveckling på arbetsplatsen och speciellt kollektiv ledarskapsutveckling Vidare föreslås en förflyttning från ett psykologi-centrerat perspektiv på ledarskapsutveckling till ett systemiskt, organisationsdesign-centrerat perspektiv på ledarskapsutveckling som innehåller både individuella och kollektiva dimensioner. En förflyttning som rimligtvis resulterar i en förändring av ledarskapsutvecklingsindustrin, vilket gör många av de samtida investeringarna i ledarskapsutveckling föråldrade. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2020. p. 281
Series
TRITA-ITM-AVL ; 2020:22
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Industrial Engineering and Management
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-273357 (URN)978-91-7873-527-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2020-06-05, https://kth-se.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_IVquSWndQ3-iSG1cSMVIvA, http://Vid fysisk närvaro eller Du som saknar dator/ datorvana kan kontakta service@itm.kth.se (English), Stockholm, 14:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2020-05-15 Created: 2020-05-15 Last updated: 2020-06-04Bibliographically approved

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