Collective Job Crafting: How Groups Shape Their Identity and Work Over Time
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CitationSILVESTRI, LUCIANA. 2019. Collective Job Crafting: How Groups Shape Their Identity and Work Over Time. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard Business School.
AbstractThe rising levels of ambiguity, uncertainty, and dynamism organizations face today prompt groups and their members to step outside of the boundaries of their formal job descriptions in order to fulfill the shifting demands of their work. This scenario opens up exciting opportunities for them to redefine who they want to become and what they wish to contribute to their organizations. In this dissertation, I explore the process of collective job crafting, which I define as the coordinated action by the members of a group to alter the tasks, relationships, and meanings of the work associated with the group’s formal mandate. Through mechanisms that link the individual and group levels over time, collective job crafting enables the group to progressively enhance its knowledge base, to broaden its sphere of influence, and to define and enact a new identity.
My findings are grounded in a longitudinal inductive qualitative study of collective job crafting at Media Solutions, a unit at CLICK, a leading social media company. Through rich interview, observation, and archival data, I trace the collective job crafting trajectory of the unit throughout its 7-year history. What began as an isolated unit in charge of a very simple and specialized task transformed itself into one of the most interconnected groups at the organization, performing complex and impactful work. However, not all areas of the organization supported Media Solutions’ collective job crafting initiatives to the same extent. As time passed, the unit’s view of the world and that of the top managers to whom it reported progressively differed. Questions such as “How should CLICK create and capture value?” “What are our strategic priorities?” “What type of work is considered valuable?” and “Who gets to do that kind of work?” received increasingly different answers. Media Solutions was eventually dissolved during the course of a larger reorganization process.
The ebbs and flows of Media Solutions’ trajectory provide the raw materials for my theory of collective job crafting, which I develop from two complementary viewpoints. First, I examine the components of collective job crafting as an informal process, grounded in Media Solutions’ proactive and adaptive behavior. Subsequently, I provide a longitudinal view of collective job crafting and analyze key instances throughout Media Solutions’ self-driven evolution in which the unit negotiated formal ownership of different components of its collectively crafted job, with varying degrees of success.
This study contributes to the incipient literature on job crafting by exploring a form of job crafting that occurs at the group level (rather than at the individual or interpersonal levels) and unfolds both within and beyond group boundaries. My findings also provide a glimpse into how emergent organizational designs and strategies arise, gain traction, and are eventually thwarted by inertial forces.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37366144