Leadership and Strategy. The Vital but Evasive Role of Cooperation and Clarity of Expectations during Strategic Change

Simon A. Moss, Ivan Butar Butar, Giles Hirst, Matt Tice, Michael Craner, Jade Evans, Charmine E. J. Hartel

Abstract


Strategic change evokes a shift in the distribution of power and, therefore, often impairs cooperation and obscures the standards that employees must achieve. Yet, unless employees perceive the work environment as cooperative and their responsibilities as unambiguous, they tend to feel too unsafe to embrace the uncertainty that change entails. To examine the significance of this cooperation and clarity of standards, in Study 1,223 executives assessed workplace cooperation, clarity of standards, meaning at work, impediments to strategic change, and firm performance. Workplace cooperation and clarity of standards were inversely related to impediments to change – a relationship that was mediated by meaning at work. To clarify how organizations cultivate this workplace cooperation and clarity of standards in the midst of change,
35 executives were interviewed. Thematic analyses revealed that leaders should first inculcate a vivid, shared vision but then gradually encourage individuals to assume distinct responsibilities that match their preferences.


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