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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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Steven F. Cronshaw
Function: An activity that is natural to or the purpose of a person or thing
Perspective: A particular way of seeing something
of raw experience
differences opens up creative potential and new
possibilities for science and practice
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 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
From Ludwig Wittgenstein’s (1958)
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
(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
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
(2) Existential operator of Granulation
representing the granularity shift (Granulation)
within a CEC so enabling shift of perspectival
specificity (Zadeh, 1979)
Work System Forms
The single-cross framework illustrates perspectival direction. Take adaptation and illustrate perspectival specificty. FP algebraic expression is p wd c .
PF = Performance Feature
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).
Some of My Research Co-investigators and Others Who Have Contributed to the Development of FP Ideas and Applications
Perng Yih Ong Damien O’Keefe
Dara Chappell Rebecca Slan
Greg Chung-Yan Melissa Warner
Tammy Knodratuk Allyson McElwain
Shefali Jethmalani Evelina Rog
Amanda Matejicek Jessica Sherin
Ashley McCulloch Anuradha Chawla
Betty Onyura Sebastian Houde
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).
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
Proposition: Adaptation enables function
Adaptation – Performance-Oriented Interview
Function – Application of TDP complexity scales to data from the Job Descriptive Interview
Sample: Workers from general labour force
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
Work System Forms
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.