Self-Managing Organizations: Exploring the Dynamics and Consequences of Radically Decentralizing Authority
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Lee, Michael Y.
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CitationLee, Michael Y. 2019. Self-Managing Organizations: Exploring the Dynamics and Consequences of Radically Decentralizing Authority. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Business School.
AbstractThis dissertation examines the dynamics and consequences of organizations that eschew the conventional managerial hierarchy and instead radically decentralize authority throughout the organization. While fascination with approaches that eliminate traditional managers has been longstanding, research on them has remained at the margins of scholarly and practitioner attention. Recently, however, experiments in radical and organization-wide decentralization have gained mainstream consideration, giving rise to a need for new theory and new research. This dissertation establishes the foundation for deeper study of this phenomenon by situating it within existing research, and examining the viability and consequences of organizing without traditional managers. Chapter 2 reviews existing research on less-hierarchical organizing and distinguishes efforts to radically decentralize authority throughout the organization, a phenomenon I label a self-managing organization, from the thrust of prior research. Chapter 3 explores the viability of self-managing organizations through an ethnographic case study of a self-managing organization that was able to foster coordination without traditional managers while simultaneously enhancing employee freedom and organizational flexibility. Chapter 4 presents data from a 12-month controlled field experiment to examine whether and for whom radical decentralization improves employee empowerment, engagement and job satisfaction. Taken together, this dissertation provides new insights into the viability and impact of organizing without traditional hierarchy.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37364444