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The Governance of Transition Processes in an Organization: A Cognitive Mapping Approach


Steur, J. and R. Wittek (2005). The Governance of Transition Processes in an Organization: A Cognitive Mapping Approach. Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings 2005 (CD)

Best Conference Paper Award 2005
Organizational Development and Change Division

This paper focusses on organizational governance during a process of organizational restructuring. We analyse reorganization processes in terms of four types of problems that emerge during the transition: coordination games, bargaining games, prisoner's dilemma games, and pure competition games. We argue that the four types of problems or games differ with regard to their severity and the difficulty or ease with which they can be resolved. Coordination problems are the least severe, because they are not triggered by diverging interests and can be solved by provision of information to the exchange partners. Pure competition games are the most severe, because they represent a zero-sum situation with opposing interests. We hypothesize that successful management of transition processes implies that the relative frequency of the more severe problems will decrease over time. We apply cognitive mapping techniques to analyse interview material gathered from 18 directors and staff members of a Dutch bank. The transcribed and coded interviews were used as a basis to identify the problems and game structures that occurred during a three year transition period in which the bank underwent a process of centralization. A total of 174 problems were identified. Correlational analysis shows that the probability for the occurrence of severe games declines over time. The data also show that as the reorganization is proceeding, managers tend to use ‘positive’ causal statements more frequently than in the beginning of the reorganization process. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of our findings for the study of organizational change processes.

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Rafael Wittek,
Sep 27, 2014, 8:27 AM