A functional perspectivist approach to organizational inquiry
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A Functional-Perspectivist Approach to Organizational Inquiry. Steven F. Cronshaw. What Is Functional-Perspectivism?. Function: An activity that is natural to or the purpose of a person or thing. Perspective: A particular way of seeing something.

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A Functional-Perspectivist Approach to Organizational Inquiry

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A functional perspectivist approach to organizational inquiry

A Functional-Perspectivist Approach to Organizational Inquiry

Steven F. Cronshaw


What is functional perspectivism

What Is Functional-Perspectivism?

Function: An activity that is natural to or the purpose of a person or thing

Perspective: A particular way of seeing something


Epistemic commitments of functional perspectivism

Epistemic Commitments of Functional-Perspectivism

  • In the workplace people and things are perceived, categorized, and organized according to their function (e.g., uses for and of technology; work roles for people)

  • Emphasis is on the pre-predicative sphere (Husserl)

    of raw experience

  • Theorizing in terms of shared perspectival

    differences opens up creative potential and new

    possibilities for science and practice


A functional perspectivist approach to organizational inquiry

FP relies on dialectics but not of the Hegelian sort, i.e., antimony of thesis and anti-thesis which is then resolved through synthesis

At the level of dynamics in extendedtimeFP relies on principles of equilibrium (dynamics)

At the experiential level with the system in homeostasis and in immediate, i.e., fixed, time relies on FP dialectics as elision of ecological complexes that naturally occur in the workplace (statics)


A functional perspectivist approach to organizational inquiry

An observation on the creative potential of perspectivism

“ A shared perspective is the means by which questions take form; cross-perspectives are the means by which answers are developed. … Difference of perspective saves query from sterility and inanity.”

Justus Buchler, Toward a General Theory of Human Judgement (1979)

Buchler referred inter-personal differences in perspective;

FP relies on intra-personal shifting and juxaposition of

perspective as a means of enriching thought in organization

science


A functional perspectivist approach to organizational inquiry

An Illustration of Intra-Personal Perspectival Shift -

The Duck-Rabbit

From Ludwig Wittgenstein’s (1958)

Philosophical Investigations


A functional perspectivist approach to organizational inquiry

The primary unit in FP is the concatenated ecological concept or CEC; for example, the worker-in-context)

The CEC is subject to two existential operations

  • Direction of perspective

  • By employing the Gestalt principles of figure-ground and reversability of perspective to bring different sides of the CEC into focus

(2) Specificity of perspective

By narrowing and broadening the details in the CEC to (1) bring out or submerge features of the work ecology and/or (2) move with the work system to qualitatively different levels of aggregation and gestalt organization


A functional perspectivist approach to organizational inquiry

The operations of perspectival direction and specificity allowed epistemological existence and latitude within the space-time manifold by functional-perspectivism are defined by the

(1) Existential operator of Concatenation

representing the distinction between and elision

of two ecological entities within a CEC

so enabling shift of perspectival direction

(Spencer-Brown, 1994)

(2) Existential operator of Granulation

representing the granularity shift (Granulation)

within a CEC so enabling shift of perspectival

specificity (Zadeh, 1979)


A functional perspectivist approach to organizational inquiry

A Single-Cross Framework Using Functional-Perspectivism

Work System Forms

Potential

Agency

Impact

Affordances

Resourcing

Performance

cp p

Adaptability

Adaptation

Results

Consequences

Functionality

Function

p cp


A functional perspectivist approach to organizational inquiry

The single-cross framework illustrates perspectival direction. Take adaptation and illustrate perspectival specificty. FP algebraic expression is p wd c .

Adaptive Capability

Adaptive Skill

Adaptive Skill

Adaptive Skill

PF

PF

PF

PF

PF

PF

PF

PF

PF = Performance Feature


A functional perspectivist approach to organizational inquiry

A Theory of Human Adaptation in the Workplace

Dynamics –With dynamics one must introduce the concept of time . Time in its extended meaning is an essential consideration when it comes to studying FP dynamics. Some basic terms follow.

Locus is the movement of the worker across and between their involvements in Things, Data, and People (TDP).

Focusis the inward vs. outward-directed movement of the self during the process of workplace adaptation.

Purpose is the directing of effort toward the achievement of instrumental personal or organizational goals (agency) or toward the safety, welfare, and comfort of others and improvement of workplace conditions as a whole (accommodation).


A functional perspectivist approach to organizational inquiry

Some of My Research Co-investigators and Others Who Have Contributed to the Development of FP Ideas and Applications

Perng Yih OngDamien O’Keefe

Dara ChappellRebecca Slan

Greg Chung-YanMelissa Warner

Tammy KnodratukAllyson McElwain

Shefali JethmalaniEvelina Rog

Amanda MatejicekJessica Sherin

Ashley McCullochAnuradha Chawla

Betty OnyuraSebastian Houde


A functional perspectivist approach to organizational inquiry

Pattern chart showing skills coalescence in 21-30 worker age cohort


A functional perspectivist approach to organizational inquiry

Pattern chart showing skills coalescence in 31-40 worker age cohort


A functional perspectivist approach to organizational inquiry

Statics – Some basic terms

Constructive assertion (Wapner et al., 2000) is an integrated cognitive, affective, and behavioral response typified by worker efforts to proactively plan and assert the self into the environment to modify, control, and master environmental circumstances.

Reactive engagement is a more passive and reactive style whereby the person largely accepts and works within the existing environmental arrangements.

Disintegrative disengagement is a style whereby the person has major difficulties in coming to terms with the prevailing workplace arrangements and demands. The worker may flee from the situation physically or psychologically (avoidance), become angry, disruptive, and aggressive against others (reactance), or perseverate in repeated but unsuccessful attempts at an overly simplified, unrealistic, and inflexible solution to the adaptive problem at hand (perseverance).


A functional perspectivist approach to organizational inquiry

Modal Adaptive Skills As Assessed By The POI For A General Workforce Sample

In order of appearance in the profile going from left to right, the complete LFP structuple assignments for the adaptive

skills graphically represented in this figure are:

Things, Inward-directed, Agentic

Things, Inward-directed, Accommodative

Things, Outward-Directed, Agentic

Things, Outward-directed, Accommodative

Data, Inward-directed, Agentic

Data, Inward-directed, Accommodative

Data, Outward-Directed, Agentic

Data, Outward-directed, Accommodative

People, Inward-directed, Agentic

People, Inward-directed, Accommodative

People, Outward-Directed, Agentic

People, Outward-directed, Accommodative


A functional perspectivist approach to organizational inquiry

Adaptation Enables Function in the Workplace

Proposition: Adaptation enables function

Measurements of:

Adaptation – Performance-Oriented Interview

Function – Application of TDP complexity scales to data from the Job Descriptive Interview

Sample: Workers from general labour force


A functional perspectivist approach to organizational inquiry

Affordances as Potential in the Proximal Workplace Context

Dynamics – Some basic terms

1. Locus represents the changing availability of physical, informational, and social resources to the worker within the proximal context

2. Focus is the movement of the proximal work system either toward its own functioning , i.e., internalizing, or toward the demands of the distal context, i.e., externalizing.

3. Purpose is the movement of the proximal work system toward either productive or accommodative goals.


A functional perspectivist approach to organizational inquiry

Statics – Some basic terms

Facilitating Affordances Features of the proximal context

that enable the whole person to constructively engage his or

her skill potential to achieve the most positive performance

contribution from both worker and management perspectives

Constraining Affordances Features of the proximal context

that allow the person to incompletely engage his or her skills

and effort/control within the given context, thereby decreasing

performance contribution (in terms of timeliness, quality,

quantity, and/or learning) but permitting eventual task

completion

Blocking Affordances Features of the proximal context that bring the person to a standstill or stalemate (in terms of task completion) in the pursuit of organizationally-sanctioned goals and thereby prevent even minimal engagement of worker skills


A functional perspectivist approach to organizational inquiry

Conditions as Potential in the Distal Workplace Context

Dynamics – Some basic terms

1. Locus represents the changing availability of physical, informational, and social resources to the work-doing system within the distal context

2. Focus is the movement of the distal work-doing system either toward its own functioning , i.e., internalizing, or toward the demands of the supra-distal context, i.e., externalizing.

3. Purpose is the movement of the distal work-doing system toward either productive or accommodative goals.


A functional perspectivist approach to organizational inquiry

Statics – Some basic terms

Facilitating Conditions Those resource availabilities, strategic opportunities, and facilitating affordances, both internal and external, that when present and engaged evolve the working-doing system away from homeostasis and toward an alternate desired state

Constraining Conditions Those resource restrictions, structural and process limitations, and constraining affordances, both internal and external, that when present and engaged can constrain but do not prevent evolution of the work-doing system away from homeostasis and toward an alternate desired state


A functional perspectivist approach to organizational inquiry

Blocking Conditions Those structures, processes, habits, resistances, and blocking affordances, both internal and external, that hold the work-doing system in homeostasis and thereby prevent evolution toward an alternate desired state


A functional perspectivist approach to organizational inquiry

A Single-Cross Framework Using Functional-Perspectivism

Work System Forms

Potential

Agency

Impact

Efficiency

Effectiveness

Productivity

Conditions

Development

cd cp

Affordances

Resourcing

Performance

cp cd


A functional perspectivist approach to organizational inquiry

Conclusion

Functional-perspectivism is a thought system that offers many possibilities for innovation in research and practice, but much additional work must be done to further adumbrate its varied aspects on the paradigmatic, theoretical, methodological, measurement and practical levels.


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