Organizational Theory and the Real World

The age-old question of which came first, theory, or practice is an excellent place to begin the discussion of organizational theory concerning the real world. The “real world" is simply the practice of operating within an actual organization. Practice and theory are different sides of the same coin; they go hand-in-hand and exist in conjunction with one another. Researchers look at actual organizations and the employees as subjects to study to learn more about the dynamics of the organizations. Practitioners use theories about organizations and employees to affect change within an organizational environment. Researchers learn from actual organizations, practitioners learn from research theory and practical experience. Shepherd and Sutcliffe (2011) discussed the deductive nature of operating from a theory to view specifics (top-down theorizing) and the inductive approach of viewing specifics to develop a theory (bottom-up theorizing) as primary ways to view the relationship between theory and real-world practice.

Suddaby, Hardy, and Huy (2011) indicated that much of the theory addressing organizations come from other disciplines such as engineering, sociology, and psychology. Also, most of the theory literature addressing organizations is from the 1960s and the 1970s, not because there is nothing new, but because of the nature of how information is reviewed and presented by academic journals (Suddaby, Hardy, & Huy, 2011). Pryor, Humphreys, Oyler, Taneja, and Toombs (2011) explained theory acceptance as a function of the amount of communication and publication of the theory; primarily, the acceptance and popularity of a theory are based on the marketing of that theory.

Organizational Theory and Change Managers

Change within an organization is often a stress-inducing activity for everyone involved. Those held responsible for implementing change experience stress because they must program or project manages a planned change event that may not be popular. Employees experiencing a planned change must cope with a change they may not like or a change that directly impacts their job. In any case, change is stressful and requires special consideration when being planned. Managers must understand that there may be resistance to change. However, there are methods for addressing the issues associated with change resistance. Holt, Dorey, Bailey, and Low (2009) suggest using small group discussions to open a free-exchange dialogue that focuses on both speaking and listening to identify any reasons for the difficulty. This dialogue will help establish the benefit, need, and importance of the change to all involved (Holt et al., 2009).

Managers are held responsible for the successful operation of organizational units, and this includes successfully developing, implementing, and assessing change within the organization. To ensure success, managers must understand the issues involved in change management. Understanding organization behavior theory, communication theory, and project management theory are critical to personal and organizational success. Change is critical to the survival and resilience of an organization, and managers must be able to engage the workforce to complete a change strategy.

Organizational Theory and Employees

Employees are the heart of any organization. Organizations are not static entities; they are ever-changing because the environment in which they exist is ever-changing. People constitute a significant change agent within organizations because they are reacting to changing internal and external organizational issues. Stead (1972) indicates an interesting application of Berio's communication model concerning management theories and employee involvement. As one person sends a message to another person, there is the possibility of interference occurring during the sending or receiving of the message due to particular management theory approaches affecting how the message is received and interpreted (Stead, 1972). For instance, a Supervisor attempting to change the behavior of an employee sends a Theory Y message; however, the message is received as a Theory X message (Stead, 1972). This communication process was unsuccessful from both the Supervisor's and employee's perspectives requiring an alteration in the message for the successful transmission of the message. The dynamic nature of employee interactions within an organization is challenging and complex for all those involved, which explains why so much effort goes into selecting, developing, and retaining the right employees for an organization.

 
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