Understanding organizational agility: a work-design perspective
Holsapple, Clyde W.
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This paper introduces a unified theoretical model of organizational agility and investigates the attributes of knowledge-intensive work-design systems, which contribute to achieving and sustaining organizational agility. Even though there has been considerable research on the topic of agility, these studies are not unified regarding their conceptualizations of agility and/or tend to adopt fairly limited views of agility dimensionality. Here, we organize a review of existing definitions and conceptual models of organizational agility, and proceed to advance a relatively comprehensive model built from a work-design perspective. This new model offers a theoretical platform for understanding organizational agility. This paper further investigates those attributes of a work design system that contribute to organizational agility. A knowledge-intensive work-design system is an example of an edge organization. Its governance mechanism (participant engagement governance, network governance, and system dynamic governance) involves three work-design levels: strategic, operational and episodic. We contend that an entrepreneurial governance pattern has attributes contributing to organizational agility, whereby the impetus for its work-design efforts stem not from some deep hierarchical authority pattern, but rather is distributed among participants and through their networking dynamics. These attributes allow each participant positioned at the edge of the system to stay alert and respond to environing trends and forces, on behalf of the system and in concert with the system. Result of an illustrative case study are reported.
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