Organization, emotion and performance: Interactions between formal and informal structures

Robin Cowan*

*BETA, Université de Strasbourg / UNU-MERIT, Maastricht University

Date: Lundi 24 août 2015, de 12h15 à 14h00
Lieu: Salle Transcontinental (3ème étage), Édifice Côte-Sainte-Catherine, HEC Montréal

La présentation sera donnée en anglais.

Résumé: Organizations are composed of interdependent design elements, including both formal and informal structures and processes, whose interaction and alignment determine performance. This paper addresses two aspects of organization alignment: formal structures and the environment; informal structures and formal structures. The formal structure determines work flows (who can pass work to whom); the informal structure supports the social transmission of stress. Social dynamics of stress and effects of stress on productivity are well-documented in the psychology literature. Using a computational model we examine the effects of alignment on organization performance in the presence of varying degrees of environmental turbulence, and intra-organizational social stress dynamics. Alignment between the formal organization and its environment is always good for performance, but when stress is present in the model two regimes (corresponding to high and low stress) can emerge, and they present very different levels of productivity. The higher the quantity and quality of social interaction, the stronger the difference in the two regimes. Stronger alignment between formal and informal structures decreases performance, whether or not the organization is aligned with its environment. Generally, higher quantity and quality of social interaction produces more unpredictability in the performance of the organization. Organizations can improve performance by improving quality of social interaction (through human resource management for example), but at the cost of less predictability. Similarly, cutting fat as a strategy for improving efficiency may be self-defeating as it reduces opportunities for social interaction to mitigate high stress-low productivity situations. (PDF)

Biographie: Robin Cowan is Professor of the Economics of Technical Change at the University of Maastricht, and Professor of Management at the Faculty of Economics and Management at the University of Strasbourg. He began his official affiliation with UNU-MERIT in 1996 as a Professorial Fellow. He studied at Queen’s University in Canada and at Stanford University where he received a PhD in economics and an MA in philosophy. Robin Cowan was Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of Western Ontario until 1998. His current research has includes several topics: the changing economics of knowledge; social networks and innovation; network structure and network performance; dynamics of consumption and social status; interacting agents models. In the past he has done consulting research for the OECD on the economics of standards, the European Commission on innovation policy, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on technological lock-in and renewable energy technologies. In 2004 he won one of 15 prestigious Chaires d’Excellence of the Ministry of research and Education in France.



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