Update (1 March 2010): The research and thesis are now complete, with the full text available here. Two paragraphs down in this post is a brief primer. The thesis wiki site delves deeply into these concepts, discussing a 3,000-year history of organization, a brief treatise on why positivist and deterministic approaches to researching human systems are inherently limited, a description of each of the five participant organizations ranging from über-BAH to ultra-UCaPP, a detailed exposition of Valence Theory (the five valence relationships, two valence forms, and Effective Theory of Action), and guidance for organizational transformation, collaborative leadership, and consistency among organizational constituencies.
I am currently in the process of deeply analyzing and massaging the research data contributed by eighteen individuals from across five organizations. Two of these organizations I would consider to be more-BAH, two are more-UCaPP, and one is enjoying the UCaPP aspects that seem to characterize a contemporary entrepreneurship while simultaneously and inexorably being pulled to crystallize into something more traditionally isomorphic – in other words, to become more-BAH. These next three posts emerge from the mists of the data, as it were, to explore questions that I think are key to understanding some of the differences between those organizations that are more-BAH and those that are more-UCaPP in nature.
If you have arrived at this post directly, and are not familiar with my research, you may want to also visit some of the posts under the Valence Theory and Thesis labels. A very quick primer: BAH is an acronym representing Bureaucratic, Administratively controlled, and Hierarchical organizations, essentially the Industrial Age model. UCaPP describes contemporary conditions of being Ubiquitously Connected and Pervasively Proximate. Organizations are rarely, if ever entirely BAH or entirely UCaPP, but tend to have tendencies and behaviours that are more consistent with one or the other end of a spectrum delineated by these two polarities. Valence Theory of Organization defines organization as being an emergent entity whose members (individuals or organizations) are connected via two or more of five valence (meaning uniting, bonding, interacting, reacting, combining) relationships. Each of these relationships – Economic, Socio-psychological, Identity, Knowledge, and Ecological – have a fungible (mercantile or tradable) aspect, and a ba-aspect, the latter creating a space and place of common, tacit understanding of self-identification-in-relation, mutual sense of purpose, and volition to action. Organizations with more-BAH tendencies will emphasize the fungible valence forms, and primarily tend to focus on Economic valence; more-UCaPP organizations tend to emphasize ba-valence forms, and are more balanced among the relative valence strengths.
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