TEAM'S DESCRIPTIVE AND INJUNCTIVE NORMS

In considering normative influences on behavior, it is relevant to differentiate between the “is” (descriptive) and the “ought” (injunctive) meaning of social norms, since each refers to a distinct origin of human motivation (Deutsch and Gerard, 1955). Descriptive norms define what is typical or normal. They represent what most people do promoting adaptive action. Descriptive norms provide an information-processing opportunity to achieve a decisional shortcut in deciding which behavior to adopt in a given situation (Cialdini, 1988). Research shows that the perception of what others are doing shapes others’ behaviors inducing similar behavior when the behaviors are morally as neutral as selecting a consumer product (Venkatesan, 1966)

Injunctive norms are related to rules or beliefs about morally approved or disapproved conduct. Descriptive norms define what is done, and injunctive norms describe what ought to be done. Unlike descriptive norms which provide information about others’ actions, injunctive norms demand action based on the promise of social sanction. Since what is approved is usually what is normally done, it is easy to confound these two meanings of norms. However, they are conceptually and motivationally distinct, and it is important for a proper understanding of normative influence to keep them separate, especially in situations where both are acting simultaneously.

Discriminating between injunctive and descriptive norms is important since both types can be present at the same time in a social context and can have a consistent or a conflicting effect on social behavior (Cialdini et al., 1991). Moreover which of these norms is salient at a particular time will shape individual emergent behavior (Cialdini, 1993). Thus, in a social context where descriptive normative information might generate an undesirable boomerang effect, it is possible to combine descriptive norms with an injunctive message showing that the desired behavior is approved.

The purpose of the current research is to advance our understanding of how normative information, distributed within teams’ descriptive and injunctive norms, may differentially affect self-managing teams’ social behavior such that it influences teams’ self-regulated learning strategies, and consequently team’s innovation performance. In responding to the call for a more nuanced explanation of team innovation, we analyzed the joint impact of (descriptive and injunctive) norms and their related peer pressure on their self-regulated learning strategies. We adopt the perspective of social identity and stakeholder theories to clarify the content and structural dimensions of injunctive norms in teams and to emphasizes the role of the sources of both types of norms distinguishing in-group (i.e., the group to which the individual belongs) or out-group (i.e., other groups in the surrounding social environment such as stakeholders and managers) sources. This allows us to highlight the role of the team’s executives and leaders, and to examine a new approach to managerial organizational controls, as crucial determinants of the functioning of organizational units and firm performance (Loughry and Tosi, 2008; De Jong et al., 2014) as opposed to close monitoring and supervision in social-ideological modes of control. Combining the effects of different types of norms with the derived peer pressure allows analysis of the joint and complementary interaction of different control mechanism—an area where research is scarce. Analyzing multiple mechanisms not only allows a more reliable evaluation of the role of each mechanism but also allows development of alternative justifications for how control combinations influence self-regulated learning choices, and consequently innovation performances

Our contribution to theory lies in our successful combining of different related logics to provide a systematic description of the complex system of controls which may be complements and which regulate team behavioral choices, and formulating a theory on the specific macro and micro organizational mechanisms responsible for the activation of these controls

 
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