Reading summaries - week ten, Fall 2017

Class themes this week were Developing visual, action-oriented strategy maps in SP and How does a leader manage labor unions in an empowered organization? in SHRM

Table of contents

Strategic Planning

Strategic Human Resources Management

Strategic Planning (SP)

Galloping Elephants, Rainey and Steinbauer (1999)

  • Much of the theory and discourse on public bureaucracies treats them negatively, as if they incline inevitably toward weak performance. This orientation prevails in spite of considerable evidence that many government organizations perform very well
  • What provides the basic incentive for effective performance of government agencies, in the absence of economic markets for their outputs?
    • public service motivation
    • motivation to achieve the mission of the agency
    • interest in the work tasks themselves
    • pay or other benefits
  • in spite of immensely complex issues over what performance means and how one assesses it, public agencies often perform very well
  • limited successes of privatization support Simon’s assertion, quoted at the beginning of this article, that public organizations can and often do perform as well as private firms
  • aggressive proponents of privatization implicitly rely on the dubious assumption that the bureaucrats who could not manage effectively before contracting-out suddenly become transformed into highly efficient and effective managers of the development and monitoring of contracts
  • mixed results suggest that the success of privatization initiatives depends heavily on sound management by government employees
  • Business firms produce abundant examples of waste, inefficiency, blundering, and fraud, even in the most reputable and admired firms
  • distinctions between public and private, and for-profit and nonprofit organizations amount to stereotypes and oversimplifications. Many scholars who study organizations emphasize the commonalities among organizations
  • importance of leadership and sense of mission.
  • variable representing political autonomy (that included universal political support and/or freedom from direction by political authorities) indicates the importance of relations with oversight authorities and other external stakeholders
  • This concept of effectiveness refers to whether the agency does well that which it is supposed to do
  • Effective agencies will have oversight authorities that are supportive, delegative, and attentive to agency mission accomplishment.
  • an agency loses autonomy if it is captured by an interest group, and it gains autonomy and influence if it has supporters that are diverse but mobilizable
  • Agencies will also tend to be more effective when they have favorable public support
  • More effective agencies also will manage well their relations with allies and partners
  • Government agencies will be more effective when they have higher levels of autonomy in relation to external stakeholders, but not extremely high levels of autonomy.
  • The higher the mission valence of the government agency, the more effectively the agency will perform
  • external stakeholders and the members of the organization interactively establish the organization’s mission.
  • Effective government agencies have a strong organizational culture, effectively linked to mission accomplishment.
  • The more effective the leadership of the agency, the more effective the agency. More effective leadership is characterized by more stability, multiplicity, commitment to mission, effective goal setting, and effective administrative and political coping.
  • Executive Core Competencies of the Senior Executive Service
    • leading change
    • leading people
    • results driven
    • business acumen
    • building coalitions and communication
  • leaders need a basic motivation for the role, along with a drive to take responsibility, to lead others, and to make a difference.
  • The problem of turnover at the top of many agencies also makes a strong commitment to an agency’s mission an important aspect of leadership
  • the most influential and innovative agency leaders emphasize their ability to turn into opportunities the constraints that supposedly impede many executives and to cope with the pressures and complexities of their roles
  • The more the task design in the agency provides extrinsic and intrinsic rewards to individuals and groups, the more effective the agency.
  • The distinction between task and mission is useful in analyzing whether they are two distinct sources of incentive
  • Professionalism can enhance an agency’s performance by increasing its autonomy, due to the social status and intellectual authority and independence of professionals in the agency
  • Effective government agencies have high levels of motivation among their members, including high levels of public service motivation, mission motivation, and task motivation.
  • Public service motivation can be defined as a general altruistic motivation to serve the interests of a community of people, a state, a nation, or humankind
  • federal executives, scientists, and engineers gave higher ratings than did their counterparts in business to work-related values such as the importance of doing your best, even if you dislike your work, the importance of doing work that is worthwhile to society, and the importance of helping others
  • public service motives can fall into three categories:
    1. instrumental motives
    2. norm-based motives
    3. affective motives
  • public service motivation is a complex concept that deserves more attention. The evidence, however, strongly supports the existence of a general form of public service motivation that tends to be more prevalent among government employees than private sector employees.
  • mission motivation asserts that members have perceptions of the mission of the agency and may be highly motivated to contribute to the achievement of the mission
  • While public service motivation focuses on altruistic service that benefits a community or a larger population, mission motivation has as its target or objective the mission of the agency.
  • Motivation in organizations always involves at least two general steps-first, joining and staying; second, working hard and well
  • High levels of mission valence will tend to attract certain individuals who will self-select into the organization on the basis of the valence of the mission for them, but then their levels of mission motivation will further depend on their perceptions about the linkage of their work to the mission
  • the propositions and framework hypothesize that the several forms of motivation play a significant role in determining agency effectiveness, as do the other factors such as leadership and culture

Extending the Theory of Goal Ambiguity to Programs, Jung (2014)

  • One of the main assumptions of empirical studies conducted on the influence of goal ambiguity in public management is that goal ambiguity relates negatively to performance.
  • Measures of program goal ambiguity—target, timeline, and program evaluation—are shown to have negative relationships with different program performance scores, taking into account alternative influences or biases on performance.
  • U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) created the Performance Assessment Rating Tool (PART) and administered it from 2004 to 2010 to assess the performance of federal programs
  • PART assessed four dimensions of administrative performance—design, planning, management, and results
  • measures of program goal ambiguity— target, timeline, and program evaluation—for the current analysis show strong and consistent negative relationships with different PART scores
  • numerous empirical studies have demonstrated that when goals are specific (job-goal specificity) and reasonably difficult (goal difficulty), employee motivation and performance increase
  • employees in organizations that present specific organizational goals are more likely to take notice of goal discussions and to be committed to the goal
  • job-goal specificity had a direct effect as well as an indirect effect, through its influence on employee self-efficacy, on work motivation
  • asked managers in both sectors to respond to questions about the clarity or ambiguity of their organization’s goals; however, little difference was found between the responses of the government and business managers
  • Chun and Rainey defined organizational goal ambiguity as “the extent to which an organizational goal or set of goals allows leeway for interpretation, when the organizational goal represents the desired future state of the organization and developed objective measures of its four dimensions:
    1. mission comprehension ambiguity
    2. directive goal ambiguity
    3. evaluative goal ambiguity
    4. priority ambiguity
  • later studies commonly focused on political influence and found a positive effect of “state political hierarchy influence” from the governor, state legislature, and agency head and a negative effect of “political support” from elected officials on managers’ perceived goal ambiguity
  • Contrary to the results of numerous goal-setting studies, a goal with a clear and narrowly focused target can degrade employee and organizational performance by leading employees to neglect important but unclear goals and by eroding the cooperative organizational culture
  • as opposed to the long-standing assertion in public management regarding the adverse effects, ambiguous goals can help reduce interventions from external stakeholders and to increase managerial autonomy
  • such goals can facilitate meaningful communication and discussion among stakeholders and managers and provide learning opportunities
  • most empirical studies concerning the consequences of organizational goal ambiguity have demonstrated its adverse effect
  • In summary, empirical studies on goal ambiguity regarding both its antecedents and consequences have broadly diverged into two streams: those with objective measures and those with survey measures.
  • Target ambiguity refers to the extent to which a federal program does not specify quantitative targets for the stated goals
  • clear targets provide clear signs of accomplishment and designate the type and amount of effort required
  • In contrast, a lack of clear targets for goals indicates possible performance weakness, according to rational management.
  • when goals are not clearly set as long term or annual, or when long-term goals do not include clear progressive steps for their achievement (in cases of high timeline ambiguity), goal setting is less likely to be helpful for performance.
  • one of the important themes of rational management is that strategy should eventuate from the establishment of systematized forms of planning or time-bounded goal
  • Program-evaluation ambiguity is defined as the lack of clarity that a program goal “allows in evaluating the progress toward the achievement of the goal”
  • the logic is that the more output measures a program has, the greater its evaluation ambiguity
  • By contrast, outcome goals can be more subject than output goals to influence from actors and conditions external to the program
  • output goals can motivate employees better than outcome goals
  • Given the multiple dimensions of both goal ambiguity and performance, it is expected that the dimensions of goal ambiguity can have different degrees of association with different performance dimensions
  • program-evaluation ambiguity will relate more closely to the results score than to the internal management or process-oriented scores
  • On the other hand, target ambiguity and timeline ambiguity are expected to be more closely related to the three process-oriented performance dimensions
  • Hence, target ambiguity will be negatively related to the program results score as well as the other performance scores. However, this ambiguity is expected to have a closer association than timeline ambiguity with both the process-oriented and outcome performance dimensions
  • Regarding different relationships between different dimensions of both goal ambiguity and performance, evaluation ambiguity was more negative for the results score than for the other process-oriented performance scores, as expected
  • The results revealed that clear target and timeline settings were key factors in the list of procedures or processes emphasized by the rationalizing reforms
  • clear targets also help focus on outcomes rather than processes
  • the results further support the observation, repeated time and again by prominent scholars and experts, that ambiguous goals can impede performance in government agencies.
  • setting clear targets and clear timelines and providing more outcome measures matter for improving program performance.

Strategic Human Resources Management (SHRM)

How to Plan for and Manage Success in a Labor Relations Environment, Schumacher (2002)

  • contributors of an organization’s labor relations program that increase opportunities for management to be successful:
    • well-defined and discernable program elements
    • interpersonal or cultural attributes of a program
  • The more contributors there are within a labor relations program, the greater the likelihood that the program will be successful.
  • Success does not mean that management always achieves its bargaining objectives
  • From management’s perspective, success is a deceptively simple proposition: a successful labor relations program is one in which management’s goals and informed expectations are met
  • No single contributor, or group of contributors, will assure a successful labor relations program
  • important point is that management determines the number and kinds of contributors to include within a labor relations program.
  • The underlying premise is that a common sense approach to planning, developing, and managing labor relations will result in a labor relations program that allows management to achieve its organizational objectives
  • While results may not always be positive, focusing on contributors greatly increases the probability that success will ensue

Labor-Management Relations, Pynes (2004)

  • To remain competitive, management and unions must adopt new approaches and attitudes for resolving conflicts. Together, they must creatively resolve problems and develop solutions advantageous to both.
  • Collective bargaining encompasses the execution, interpretation, and enforcement of the negotiated contract.
  • This chapter presents the legal framework of collective bargaining
  • Labor-management relation acts designate or create agencies to provide oversight of the acts and to administer relations among employers, employees, and union
  • The labor-management relations acts generally define the procedures for designating the employees’ representative or union
  • The group of employees that can potentially be represented by one representative at the bargaining table is called the appropriate bargaining unit.
  • labor-management relations acts exclude some general categories of employees from a bargaining unit.
  • labor-management relations acts also contain specific procedures for selecting an exclusive bargaining representative. Exclusive recognition is the term applied when one union has the right and responsibility to speak on behalf of all employees in the bargaining unit. Voluntary recognition by the employer is the easiest way of designating a union. It is available only if the union can demonstrate support by a majority of employees
  • If voluntary recognition is not achieved or it is challenged by a claim of majority representation by another representative organization, a secret ballot election may be held
  • Labor-management relations acts contain provisions for union security devices that address the degree to which unions can compel union membership or mandate the payment of dues
  • Most contracts in the nonprofit and private sectors contain some kind of union security provision, and union security provisions are articulated in each state’s public employee relations act.
    • Closed shop - Under a closed shop agreement, an employer was not permitted to hire anyone who was not already a member of the union. Closed shop agreements became illegal in the private sector in 1947
    • Union shop - Under a union shop provision, all unit employees are required to join the exclusive bargaining representative after being hired
    • Agency shop - Under an agency shop agreement, all unit employees, whether or not they are union members, are required to pay a service fee to the exclusive bargaining representative
    • Fair share - The fair share provision resembles the agency shop provision. However, unlike agency shops, nonbargaining activities are not funded by nonunion members.
    • Maintenance of Membership - Under maintenance-of-membership provisions, employees are not required to become union members. However, those who join a union must remain members
    • Dues Checkoff - A dues checkoff mechanism permits unions to collect fees from employers, who withhold the union dues from the employees’ paychecks and forward the funds to the union
    • Right-to-Work States - Wyoming. According to right-to-work laws, individuals cannot be forced to join or pay dues to a labor union. Furthermore, no worker need be a union member to acquire or retain employment.
  • Unfair labor practices are actions by either the employer or the union that interfere with employees’ exercise of statutory rights
  • Unfair labor practice provisions are intended to protect the rights of employees, unions, and employers by prohibiting discrimination, interference, and coercion by both employers and unions.
  • The scope of collective bargaining constitutes which subjects are negotiable.
    • Mandatory Topics - Mandatory topics of bargaining are topics that the laws (whether private, nonprofit, federal, or state) require management and labor to bargain over. Typically includes wages, salaries, fringe benefits, and working conditions
    • Permissive Topics - A permissive topic is a matter related to optional policy that may be bargained over if there is mutual agreement. Deciding whether an issue is mandatory or permissive has generally been accomplished on a case-by-case basis
    • Illegal or Prohibited Topics - Illegal or prohibited topics cannot be bargained, and any agreement to bargain with respect to illegal topics will be void and unenforceable.
  • When management and labor are unable to agree to contract terms, an impasse occurs. Third-party intervention often becomes necessary. Three procedures are commonly used:
    • Mediation - introduction of a neutral third party into the negotiation process to assist the bargaining parties in resolving their differences. Mediation findings are not binding unless approved by both parties
    • Fact Finding - involves holding an adversarial hearing at which each side presents its position. Fact-finder recommendations are not binding. Fact finding is grounded in the belief that public opinion will encourage the parties to accept the fact finder’s report
    • Interest Arbitration - procedure used when mediation and fact finding have not resolved bargaining impasses. Arbitration resolves conflicts without the use of a strike. Public sector arbitration varies across the states, and there are several forms. Compulsory binding arbitration requires that any dispute not settled during negotiations must end in arbitration.
      • Final-offer arbitration permits each party to submit proposals, or final offers, to arbitration. Arbitrator must select either the union’s or the employer’s final offer
      • final-offer-by-issue arbitration, the arbitrator selects either side’s final offer on an issue-by-issue basis
  • Nonprofit employees are permitted to strike; however, most public employees do not have a legally protected right to strike.
  • Grievance arbitration occurs when labor believes that management has violated the terms of a labor contract and files a grievance.
  • The scope of an arbitrator’s authority is usually negotiated and stated in the collective bargaining agreement
  • Grievance arbitration is undertaken as the last resort in settling disputes because it is expensive.
  • Public sector contract negotiations tend to be more difficult due to the diffusion of authority
  • For these ideological and structural reasons and because many people did not see the need for unionization, the legal framework for public sector collective bargaining lagged behind that of the private sector.
  • Today it is common to find both unions and civil service systems in public organizations.
  • To regain their influence, the unions have refocused their energies on issues of the new and diverse workforce
  • Issues such as pay equity, comparable worth for equitable job classifications, health and safety protection, training and retraining, quality-of-work life, job enlargement, and broader job classifications in many contracts have replaced the previous emphasis on wages, seniority, and work rules.
  • Unions and nonprofit organizations are not typically linked together in most people’s thoughts
  • nonprofit agencies often respond to new societal needs and thus become desirable places to work even if salaries are lower and working conditions are less comfortable
  • The research on unionization and nonprofits has tended to focus on social workers and health care professionals
  • unionization of nonprofits challenges the traditions that voluntary agencies have defined for themselves: altruistic roles and the denial of self-interest as wage earners
  • While unionization in the for-profit sector has decreased in part due to the downward shift in the number of manufacturing, construction, and transportation employees, there has been an increase in the number of professional employees and service industry employees
  • Many employees have viewed unionization as a way to defend their professional autonomy, improve working conditions, and maintain or improve their economic security.
  • Another rapidly growing group of union members are graduate student assistants and adjunct faculty members
  • As more public services become privatized and former public employees enter nonprofit agencies, nonprofit managers can expect to see an increase in union activity.
  • Regardless of whether public health services become privatized, many unions have already adopted an aggressive posture to organize public, private, and nonprofit health care facilities.
  • The increasing privatization of social and human services will also affect the growth of unions in nonprofit organizations
  • Union contracts with public and nonprofit agencies recognize that new issues have emerged and that labor-management understanding and cooperation are important
  • The future of the labor movement will hinge on its ability to reach out to new constituencies and collectively develop a new agenda
  • Unions have begun to emphasize the need for greater racial, gender, and class equality
  • Moving beyond the traditional subject matters of collective bargaining such as wages, hours, and working conditions, these new issues focus attention on the needs for affordable and safe day care, maternal leave benefits, an increased ability to work flexible hours, the elimination of sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace, and eliminating the exploitation of immigrant workers.
  • When employees choose to join unions, increased compensation and benefits are not the only reasons. Often there are concerns about effective management and the quality of the workplace climate.
  • Collective bargaining allows professionals the ability to demand that the standards of their profession be respected and enforced.
  • For public and nonprofit organizations that are not yet unionized, it is important to have a progressive HRM system in place that respects employees.
  • Whether workers join unions depends on their perceptions of the work environment and their desire to participate in or influence employment conditions. Organizations that provide employees with the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process are less likely to be the targets of unionization.

What Did Partnerships Do? Masters, Albright & Eplion (2006)

  • In 1993, then-President Clinton issued a landmark executive order mandating labor-management partnerships in the federal service.
  • partnerships provided a forum for collaborative communications and joint decision-making, improved the labor relations climate, reduced labor-management disputes, and modestly improved organizational performance
  • perceptions of communications and decision-making were positively correlated with labor relations climate and organizational performance
  • labor-management cooperation has emerged as a performance-enhancement and cost-reduction strategy
  • President Clinton sought to transform conflict into cooperation to create high-performance work organizations that cost less to run
  • Generally speaking, labor-management cooperation is treated as distinct from collective bargaining, though it may appreciably affect negotiations
  • cooperation can yield substantial improvements at various organizational levels
  • the effects of cooperation appear to be contingent
  • on the one hand, cooperative efforts are intended to improve the climate; on the other hand, the labor relations climate exerts its own effects
  • the effects of cooperation operate through specific channels
  • Cooperation adds value to the extent that it improves communications and decision-making
  • What matters is whether the cooperative structure improves the underlying dynamics of labor-management interactions
  • Two theoretical perspectives underpin the framework: collective voice and conflict resolution. Both offer explanations for a cooperation-performance nexus
    • Collective voice holds that union involvement in decision-making leads to improvements in employee welfare and organizational performance
    • Conflict resolution stimulates a more positive labor-management climate, which further reinforces the predisposition to resolve disagreements amicably rather than litigiously.
  • cooperative arrangements, however well-intentioned, often face numerous practical difficulties and obstacles
  • To succeed, cooperation requires dedicated leadership on both sides
  • Unfortunately, cooperation may offer too little, too late in organizations whose survival is seriously threatened. These situations create the false impression that cooperation has failed
  • Four hypotheses:
    1. Partnerships will provide a forum for collaborative communications and decision-making.
    2. Partnerships will improve the labor relations climate, IR outcomes, and organizational performance.
    3. The degree to which communications and decision-making are perceived as jointly determined will be positively correlated with favorable perceptions of the labor relations climate.
    4. The favorableness with which communications, decision-making, and the IR climate are perceived will be positively correlated with favorable perceptions of organizational performance.
  • indices show generally strong agreement that partnerships provided a forum for collaborative communications and important joint decision-making
  • overall indices, however, mask important union-management differences in perceptions
  • Survey results show that council representatives tended to perceive positive changes in various dimensions of labor-management relations. Fully four-fifths of the participants also perceived that councils had improved labor-management communications
  • partnerships improved the labor relations climate
  • partnerships had their greatest effects in those areas where they focused the most attention
  • partnerships reduced grievances, arbitrations, and unfair labor practices
  • Perhaps the most important partnership effects, however, occurred in the hard-to-measure area of organizational change
  • Partnerships aired tensions and sought solutions. They proved invaluable in getting union buy-in
  • partnerships proved instrumental in fostering a culture conducive rather than resistant to change
  • Several conclusions emerge with important implications for labor-management cooperation in general and in the federal sector particularly.
    1. partnerships produced some demonstrably positive effects.
    2. partnership effects on organizational performance are more difficult to discern
    3. partnerships outside the framework of collective bargaining were able not only to arrest the adversarial dynamics of formal negotiations, but even to reverse them.
  • A moral of the story is that if you want to transform labor-management relations, you need to change the process, environment, and mix of people. Partnerships achieve their ultimate impact when partnering, collective bargaining, and contract administration become seamlessly cooperative.
  • Three important implications emerge
    1. most compelling is that cooperation can be mandated and still produce important effects
    2. the removal of a partnership mandate does much more than create a neutral labor-management environment.
    3. abandoning partnership, however imperfect it may have been, deprives federal employees of an avenue to exercise a collective voice much wider in scope than formal contract negotiations.
Written on November 7, 2017