How Micro-Processes Change Social Hierarchies in Teams
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CitationSatterstrom, Patricia. 2016. How Micro-Processes Change Social Hierarchies in Teams. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Business School.
AbstractSocial hierarchies can prevent teams from hearing and using all of their members’ contributions. They are also ubiquitous and difficult to change, reinforced by conscious and unconscious factors as well as social-structural systems. Social hierarchies in teams, however, can and do change. This dissertation diverges from recent research focused on the stability of social hierarchies to argue that social hierarchies in teams can become more dynamic over time; it also explores why and how this shift comes about and how it impacts team member relationships and interaction patterns. In chapter 2, “Toward a more dynamic conceptualization of social hierarchy in teams,” I theorize about the antecedents and processes that allow teams to shift their social hierarchy, focusing on the importance of socialized schemas, identity, emotions, and behaviors. Chapters 3 and 4 draw from a 31-month ethnographic investigation into these processes in three multidisciplinary “change teams” in primary health care clinics. These teams were specifically charged with moving their organization toward a more dynamic social hierarchy to remain competitive in their industry. I studied how team members did this within their own team. In chapter 3, “Microwedges: Moving teams from rigid to dynamic social hierarchy,” I identify and theorize about the process through which an extra-role behavior, over time, helps to create cognitive changes in team members, prompting them to change their task strategies, role responsibilities, and communication patterns to promote dynamic social hierarchy in the team. Chapter 4, “The changing nature of social hierarchy and voice” follows a change team on a weekly basis over 22 months to document a shift to dynamic social hierarchy and to theorize about the relationship between social hierarchy and voice and silence via “opening” and “closing” behaviors and the team conversation structure. My dissertation extends and generates theory about social hierarchy and voice. It introduces the concepts of dynamic social hierarchy and the microwedge process to further our understanding of how teams and their members change over time. It also has practical implications for how team members can engage with the social hierarchy in which they are embedded, alter their teams’ processes, and help their organizations rethink entrenched assumptions about the capabilities and preferences of their members.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:32744408