Here on our website, we've listed the chapter synopsis from the book's expanded Table of Contents. Thesis statements are then provided for the main source(s) discussed in each section of the chapter, along with a list of additional readings discussed in the section. Where possible, we've provided links to publicly available sources. To read our detailed synopsis, discussion, and thoughts about the practical application of the ideas presented in the sources listed below, buy the chapter by clicking on the cover image (or buy the entire book).

Chapter 4: Organization and Process

Organizational design is the alignment of structure, process, rewards, metrics, and talent with the strategy of the business. We describe what has (and has not) been established to promote organizational effectiveness.

Organizational Culture

Any organization gains power from the assumptions shared by its members. It benefits researchers and managers to identify these implicit assumptions.

ThesisEDGAR SCHEIN, 2010. “The Concept of Organizational Culture: Why Bother?” and “The Three Levels of Culture,” Organizational Culture and Leadership. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.

Thesis: Identifying the pattern of shared basic assumptions within a group is a powerful tool to understand organizational behavior.

ThesisHARRISON TRICE and JANICE BEYER, 1993. “Changing Organizational Cultures.” In J. M. Shafritz, J. S. Ott, and Y. S. Jang (editors), Classics of Organization Theory, 6th edition [2005]. Belmont, Wadsworth. pp. 383–392.

Thesis: With cultural change, losses are more certain than gains; therefore, managing change entails convincing people that the likely gains outweigh the losses.

Additional Readings:

  • Adolph, Gerald, Karla Elrod, and J. Neely. 2006. “Nine Steps to Prevent Merger Failure.” Harvard Business School Working Knowledge for Business Leaders, 27 March.
  • Arango, Tim. 2010. “How the AOL-Time Warner Merger Went Wrong.” New York Times, 10 January. p. 1, Media & Advertising section.
  • Cotter, John. 1995. The 20% Solution: Using Rapid Redesign to Create Tomorrow's Organization Today. New York, Wiley.
  • Delbecq, Andre and Joseph Weiss. 1988. “The Business Culture of Silicon Valley: Is It a Model for the Future?” In J. Weiss (editor), Regional Cultures, Managerial Behavior and Entrepreneurship. New York, Quorum Books. pp. 123–141.
  • Hwang, Victor and Greg Horowitt. 2012. The Rain Forest: The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley. Los Altos Hills, Regenwald.
  • Keichel, Walter. 1979. “Playing the Rules of the Corporate Strategy Game.” Fortune 25 September, 110–115.
  • Markus, M. Lynne. 1998. “Lessons from the Field of Organizational Change.” Journal of Strategic Performance Measurement 2(2), 36–45.
  • Mitchell, David. 2005. Making Foreign Policy: Presidential Management of the Decision-Making Process. Burlington, Ashgate Publishing.

The Impact of Structure and Situation

Personalities and personal values appear to play only a partial role in driving the behavior of individuals in groups. Situations drive behavior more than is commonly acknowledged.

ThesisPHILIP ZIMBARDO, 1972. “Pathology of Imprisonment.” Society 9(6), 4–8.

Thesis: In determining the behavior of individuals in groups, situations can have a larger impact than the inherent personalities involved. Poor organizational structure can predetermine destructive outcomes.

Additional Readings:

Organizational Learning

Organizations must learn just as people do. A growing body of research works to identify the conditions which facilitate learning in an organizational context.

ThesisSIM SITKIN, 1992. “Learning through Failure: The Strategy of Small Losses.” In B. Staw and L. Cummings (editors), Research in Organizational Behavior. New York, Elsevier Science. pp. 231–266.

Thesis: Failure is an essential prerequisite for learning. Organizations must allow people to fail in order to grow. Success fosters reliability, while failure fosters resilience.

Additional Readings:

  • Axline, Sheryl. 2001. “Proactive Adaptation in ERP Teams: Mechanisms of Team Learning.” Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Claremont Graduate University.
  • Page, Scott., 2008. The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies. Princeton, Princeton University Press.

Aligning Organizational Incentives

It is easy to identify antiproductive behavior in almost any organization. It is valuable to assess what incentives may be helping create that behavior, and how to reverse them.

ThesisSTEVEN KERR, 1975/1995. “On the Folly of Rewarding A While Hoping for B." Academy of Management Executive 9(1), 7–14 [1975].

Thesis: Organizations repeatedly reward behaviors inconsistent with behavior that is desired. This misalignment of incentives can be confronted and reversed.

ThesisHENRY PARSONS, 1975. “What Happened at Hawthorne?” Science 183(4128), 922–932.

Thesis: Any change that involves giving employees feedback with financial incentives will improve productivity—what gets measured gets managed.

Additional Readings:

  • Mayo, Elton. 1945. The Social Problems of an Industrial Civilization. London, Routledge [2007].


We review decades of research into the determinants of job satisfaction and job performance.

ThesisEDWIN LOCKE and DOUGLAS HENNE, 1986. “Work Motivation Theories.” In C. L. Cooper and I. T. Robertson (editors), International Review of Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

Thesis: Job satisfaction does not actually drive job performance. Setting goals—particularly, specific and challenging goals—does lead to higher job performance.

ThesisGARY LATHAM and CRAIG PINDER, 2005. “Work Motivation Theory and Research at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century.” Annual Review of Psychology, vol. 1. New York, Wiley. pp. 1–35.

Thesis: Context is the key to job motivation, particularly that provided by culture, job characteristics, and job fit. Also, workers are motivated by subconscious as well as conscious sources.

Additional Readings:

  • Culbert, Samuel. 2008. “Get Rid of the Performance Review.” Wall Street Journal, 20 October.
  • Locke, Edwin. 1996. “Motivation through Conscious Goal Setting.” Applied & Preventive Psychology 5(2), 117–124.
  • Locke, Edwin. 2000. “Motivation by Goal Setting.” In R. Golembiewski (editor), Handbook of Organizational Behavior. New York, Marcel Dekker. pp. 43–56.
  • Nelson, Bob. 2012. 1501 Ways to Reward Employees. New York, Workman.


Power is the ability to get things done, and is not always aligned with position. We review research that looks at who gets power in an organization and which positions appear to lack power.

ThesisGERALD SALANCIK and JEFFREY PFEFFER, 1977. “Who Gets Power and How They Hold on to It: A Strategic Contingency Model of Power.” Organizational Dynamics 5(3), 3–21.

Thesis: Power accrues to those who cope with the organization's problems. Power is therefore the secret of success.

ThesisROSABETH MOSS KANTER, 1979. “Power Failures in Management Circuits.” Harvard Business Review 57(July–August), 65–75.

Thesis: Powerlessness (not power) breeds bossiness. Power can mean efficacy and capacity. To expand power, share it.

Additional Readings:

  • Astley, W. Graham and Paramjit Sachdeva. 1984. “Structural Sources of Intraorganizational Power: A Theoretical Synthesis.” Academy of Management Review 9(1), 104–113.
  • Pfeffer, Jeffrey. 1981. “Understanding the Role of Power in Decision Making.” In J. M. Shafritz, J. S. Ott, and Y. S. Jang (editors), Classics of Organization Theory, 7th edition [2010]. Belmont, Wadsworth. pp. 277–290.
  • Shafritz, Jay, Steven Ott, and Yong Suk Jang. 2010. Classics of Organizational Theory, 7th edition. Belmont, Wadsworth.

Information Technology and Productivity

We review several process-improvement approaches that have come into and out of fashion since 1990, and focus on how these approaches involve the use of information technology. We also review the evidence on whether IT adds more value than it costs.

ThesisMICHAEL HAMMER, 1990. “Reengineering Work: Don't Automate, Obliterate.” Harvard Business Review 68(July–August), 104–112.

Thesis: Modern information technology can enable organizations to eliminate non-value-added activities instead of merely automating them to make them more efficient.

ThesisRAJIV KOHLI and SARV DEVARAJ, 2003. “Measuring Information Technology Payoff: A Meta-Analysis of Structural Variables in Firm-Level Empirical Research.” Information Systems Research 14(2), 127–145.

Thesis: Studies employing better methodologies tend to find a positive connection between IT and organizational productivity.

Additional Readings: