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Adaptive Structuration Theory

Marshall Scott Poole

Sarah Merrill

on 24 February 2013

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Transcript of Adaptive Structuration Theory

Why do people in groups act the way they do? How can an organization change its culture? How can group behavior be changed? Adaptive Structuration Theory developed in the 1980s by Marshall Poole, based on British economist Anthony Gidden's theory of structuration The basic premise
is that the social structures
that surround a person
shape his or her actions —
while at the same time are
being shaped by those actions. lets define some terms ... "Structuration refers to the production or reproduction of social systems through members' use of rules and resources in interaction" Griffin (2009) Intentional acts by group members who have free will and can control their own behavior. Guidelines or routines people follow, whether "official" or learned through experience, that shape their actions. Material or non-material elements available for group members to use. for example Jane Jane follows several
sets of rules at work external
expectations employee
handbook workplace
culture faith some
she doesn't
even realize She also has
a number of resources knowledge experience reputation friendships money fortitude courage communication
skill employee
handbook reputation employee
handbook employee
handbook employee
handbook In her work group,
everyone has a set of rules and resources. Some are shared and some
are individual
(from past
experience or from
outside influences). As rules or resources
(which together form
"structures") are used in
interactions between group
members, they are reinforced
and reproduced. For example,
if everyone follows the
unwritten rule, "don't ask
the boss for anything
on Mondays," then that
rule is unwittingly
reinforced. "If the structure
of a group stays the same,
it is because members are
acting in such a way that the
same structure is created and maintained with every act."
(Poole) The good news is
that new rules
and resources
can be created by group members
or appropriated
from outside
the group. So anyone can be
a catalyst for change.
Even this guy. It isn't always easy ... Once a new rule or resource is available, it still needs to be adopted and used -- and reinforced over time. By everyone. Practical Application: Workplace Bullying • In some situations, bullying could be a stable state resistant to change, because it is an accepted norm.
• Structuration theory lays blame with everyone: the bully, the bystanders, the victim, and management.
• Because the problem is communal, all four groups need to use new rules and resources to change the underlying structure. The new rules and resources could come from individuals, who each bring their own knowledge and experience, or they could be appropriated from the wider culture. But each act that brings in new rules or resources or challenges the norm can subtly shift the wider group culture. To change the
structure or behavior
of a group, you
need to change the rules
and resources that are used
by the group
members. Adaptive structuration theory is a way of making visible the invisible communication processes that shape behavior in groups. When change is needed (like the bullying example) it helps identify shared responsibility and areas where new or different rules and resources should be introduced. See?
theory is your
Full transcript