SYSTEMATIC AND STRATEGIC APPROACH TO THE CHURCH – UNTOLD SEMINARY ESSENTIALS
The relationship between spirituality and business has never been so interactive as it has become today with modern trends of globalization and industrialization. The present era is marked with business oriented approaches to organizations regardless of their faith based or secular principles. The Christian church also needs to incorporate the modern secular organizational principles and strategies in order to establish itself on solid financial grounds and with independence perform its religious duties. However, unfortunately church management has not adopted formal and strategic organizational planning and strategies as the relationship between formal planning and performance is not clear but seems to be associated with worldly gains which have nothing to do with the spiritual faith-based institutions.
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In this context, it is imperative to understand the requirements of church to implement the formal organizational strategies and recommend the ways to improve the management styles of the Christian church. This study explores different organizational and management theories and researches from both faith-based institutions and the secular organizations. For this purpose, this study is comprised of four chapters; the first chapter introduces the background and importance of the study while the second chapter highlights the importance of change management in Church setting. The third chapter discusses the leadership theories and the role of leadership in church ministry. The fourth and final chapter details the strategic planning for church along with recommending these strategies for the implementation in church settings.
CHAPTER ONE – INTRODUCTION
Spirituality and church management are often regarded as two different areas of Christian study and practice. The two are sometimes presented as antagonists, as proponents of one or the other voice their varied arguments on the apparent “inadequacies” of the other side. Many pastors reputed for their deep spiritual concerns refuse involvement in the “managerial” aspects of the institutional church. They may even think that to do so would betray the Lord of their calling. Nevertheless, those who diligently manage the organization of the church denigrate shepherding pastors as irresponsible in their mission as overseers of the church. These conflicts suggest the urgent need for an integrative study on spirituality and church management. The aim of any such study is to enable Christian churches to nurture both disciplines in order to prosper in faithful service to God as well as in the guidance and power of His Spirit. The two seem to be related and yet in practice they belong to two different realms. How can pastors, in practical terms, really mange the church in the Spirit”? What are the theological foundations for spiritual church management? Is there really a theology of spirituality for church management? Some theological studies have sought an integration of the two themes. There is a great need for more thorough and comprehensive studies on the church management especially focusing on the business strategies enabling the pastors to cope with the new emerging trends of modern business management.
As churches are believed and supposed to provide spiritual guidance to the people which is a concept different from the worldly affairs, many people are reluctant to take church as an organization in need to be treated on the business patterns because they think that the church has unique origins, goals, and roles that differ from secular organizations. Due to this fact many people like to understand the church not as an organization but an organic body of Christ (1Cor: 12:12-27).
From experience I reached the conclusion that the Church as an organisation stands on three main pillars: first a spiritual pillar, secondly a business pillar and thirdly a social pillar with no specific importance to the position of pillars two and three. Spiritually and theologically pastors are trained at seminary or a similar institution and the theological training does not require any amplification in this dissertation. The same applies to the social side of the church for the purpose of this thesis.
The word “organization” can be applied to many differing groups of people and resources who gather or work together for an agreed-upon purpose. Each of these is a kind of organization, yet each can have a unique definition.
Organizations of any size or type have what Arnold and Feldman identify as three basic characteristics in common. In their words: “organizations are composed of individuals and groups, organizations are oriented toward the achievement of goals, and organizations employ specialization and coordination in order to accomplish their goals.” This broad definition allows most on-going groups to be identified as some type of organization. Businesses are readily identified as conforming to this definition since they are in fact groups of individuals and resources with set goals, structures and methods, and with clearly established patterns that people are expected to follow in their interactions.
That the church has the above elements that define an organization finds support in the Bible itself. I expect that offering biblical support for my position will encourage people to understand the church as an organization, and that identifying it as such will in no way detract from its loftier role as a mediator of faith and salvation. The primary elements of an organization are people. As the Bible notes, the disciples of Jesus Christ came together in Jerusalem and experienced the Holy Spirit on Pentecost after (Acts 2:1-4) they immediately proclaimed the Gospel to the people. Large numbers of people came together within the faith of Jesus Christ and became the elderly church in Jerusalem. In 1 Corinthians 12:27, Paul says, “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular (KJV).” Thus, the church satisfies the definition of an organization in that it is composed of people, those who follow Jesus Christ.
Another element of an organization is the existence of a specified goal. The disciples of Jesus Christ received a command from Jesus Christ. “And Jesus came and said to them, all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20, NISB). The identified goal of the church was to follow the command of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the church members began to proclaim the Gospel to the people. In its mission to the church clearly meets this second element of the definition of an organization, that is be organized to achieve a special goal.
Structure is the third element that defines an organization. The second coming of Jesus Christ was delayed while the membership of the church continued to increase. The community felt the need for structure and rules. There were two types of positions in the early church. On the one side, there were the positions that recognized spiritual gifts within the Pauline churches: apostle, prophets, and teacher. On the other hand, there were the hierarchical systematic positions: bishops, elders, and deacons. By creating these positions, the church gave members different roles and developed diverse functions that clearly correlate with organizational positions, such as mission, education, fellowship, serving, and management, etc. currently churches have even more complicated organizational structures than did the early Christina church.
It is obvious that Bible will give us unquestionable evidence of interaction among the people, another element of an organization, taking place in the early church. The Bible says, “Every day, they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread inn their homes and at together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (Acts 4:26-27, NIV). The early church members had interactions with one another. They were waiting together for the kingdom of God, which Jesus promised, so they felt that they were brothers and sisters in faith. The interaction of the church in Jerusalem encouraged the other early churches to help each other and to establish the rules of the Christian church. Most churches maintained a relationship with the church in Jerusalem .
The aim of this dissertation is to assist church leaders and pastors by providing them with a method designed to provide a framework of approach covering the wide variety of disciplines and activities required within the business side of the church.
We often find ministers who are particularly gifted, and although they have the ability to win souls for the Kingdom of God, they go under due to a lack of administration skills. Saying that, it is also true that some ministers do survive, but if they had better business skills, they could have been much further ahead, doing even more for the Kingdom of God. Ambition without knowledge can be compared to a ship on dry land.
For one or another reason pastors often expect people and or the church to provide in all their needs. The bible teaches that the Lord is my provider and not the church, and although God also works through people, it is essential that ministers realise that people owe you nothing. Although good preaching might carry one through for a while, it is required from a church leader to build and expand his church, and do so by teaching the absolute Word of God without compromise. You might say “Well, this we were taught in seminary…”, but what you were not taught is that unless one manages the church par excellence and with sound business practises, the church leader is in for a bumpy ride.
Focus for the new pastor is on the business plan, which describes the rationale for your business prospects. This is the section from Luke 14:28 which is not fully understood, nor executed: “…sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it. The business plan includes and drives the management processes, starting day one. The time has also long gone by where all of your resources are available in-house as one does not always have these resources, especially when starting or taking over a new church. You might require employing the skills and services of external resources, working alongside your local resources, and to enhance their ability to deliver on the pre-agreed objectives and deliverables. This dissertation will also provide a mechanism to harness these resources and enable the leadership team to work together effectively.
The Mission of the Church
It is important to clarify the subject before we go into a deeper study. When we study church management or church administration we should ask in the first place, “what is the church management?” There may be many definitions concerning this field, but one the writer finds has more significant meaning than many others. From his book, “Purposeful Church Administration”, Alvin Lindgren says it this way. Purposeful church administration is the involvement of the Church in the discovery of her nature and mission and in moving in a coherent and comprehensive manner toward providing such experiences as will enable the Church to utilize all her resources and personnel in the fulfillment of her mission of making known God’s love for all men.
We can see that the major concern of the administration of the Church is the fulfillment of the mission of the Church, to make the Church be as it should be. Administration should be concerned with every aspect of Church life and seek to coordinate every experience toward one unified purpose. This requires the involvement of all members of the Church in some administrative responsibilities.
They must understand the nature and the mission of the Church, and must be involved in making known God’s love to all men. That is why the Christian Church was called and was chosen for the purpose of making known God’s love. The divine task belongs to all members of the chosen community.
Some of the Church members may complain about the financial problems, the lack of sufficient support by the local congregation, lack of needed workers or qualified leadership, and poor Church attendance. The Church leaders are so overwhelmed with many little problems that they are unable to focus on the larger question, “Why does the Church really elicits, and what is it trying to do ?”
Most of the churches suffer from the lack of a consciousness of its mission and are not aware of it. While many Churches are having great difficulties trying to solve their practical problems, they are unaware that behind these problems are questions of mission which they have never asked. They may increase activities in their church programs, to find each activity adds its own problems and purposes. Every local Church needs to stop and ask these questions, and must try to answer them: “What we are trying to do ? And why? Where we are heading?”
A sense of mission focuses on an awareness of direction, purpose, and reason for being, all of which are very crucial for the existence of the Church. The mission of the Church becomes the standard of measurement for all activities. 2 The Church may have problems concerning leadership, finance and so on, but these problems cannot be solved unless the Church has, first, the consciousness of its mission. The Church exists not only to maintain its institution or status quo but it must move forward in some certain direction and keeps a certain purpose for being in mind. Every Church needs to face the question of mission specifically intentionally. “Why and how is it in Christian ministry at this designated time and place ‘?” And every Church must not only ask the question but answer it, “What it proposes to do?” Every part, every organization within the Church must be clear as to why it exists and what it expects to accomplish.
It is very crucial for the growth of the Church that everybody involved in the Church have the same clear picture of its mission. Lambert explains that the Church that grows and is fruitful is the Church that plans for its future development, and sets its goals clear to every member. Therefore goals are very important to the growth of the Church. If a Church does not have goals it may not go anywhere, because it does not know which direction it should take, what kind of work should be undertaken and done. The Church has its mission and this mission is the goal of its existence. But the problem of the Church is that the members do not have a clear understanding of their own mission.
Whenever the Church has its own clearly stated mission, individuals will be able to commit themselves to the Church because her purposes coincide with their own. We must realize that every person, individually, has intentional goals for his or her own life. When they became members of the Church, they carry with them their own reasons for being Church members. They have some certain expectations, some purposes, and energies to join the Church. These expectations, purposes, and energies are different; they do not focus on the same target. Therefore it is the responsibility of the Church to put them on the same track, moving in the same direction. It can be done only when the Church has a very clear picture of its mission and goals.
Some of the problems of church management are about three decades old and it seems that they are not relevant to the present existence of the Church. They need to be revised. For this revision we must start from the question, who are we,’ and where are we? To these questions we would have to answer like this: We are God’s chosen people, we call ourselves ‘Christians.’ We have several dedicated personnel and well-educated people. We also have other materials such as money, time, and so on. But the sad thing is all the materials are not being used properly for the growth of the Church. We seem not to know how to utilize our raw materials for the benefit of the Church life.
The next step we should ask ourselves is where we are heading? The answer should be like this: With all of our efforts we are going to bring the Gospel into the life of the Christian people within their culture and their environment, to bring them to accept Christ as their Savior, that they may live under His loving grace, and make our community a Christ centered community, and they may also become God’s chosen people to take responsibility to do Gocl’s work among all mankind. Before we deal with the mission of the Church, it would be helpful for our understanding to define the meaning of the Church and the world or community to which the Church is giving its services. Without this definition, it is impossible to define adequately the work of the ministry for which the Church is to prepare itself. According to H. Richard Niebuhr in his book “The Purpose of the Church and Its Ministry”, he defines as follows:
The Church is not only human community directed toward the divine reality; its uniquenesslilies in its particular relation to that reality, a relation inseparable from Jesus Christ. It is related to God through Jesus Christ; first in the sense that Jesus Christ is the center of this community directed toward God; the Church takes its stand with. Jesus Christ before God and knows Him with the mind of Christ, Secondly, in that situation there is made available to it, or revealed to it, a characteristic and meaning in the Object-the divine reality- unknown of a God who is Father and Son and Holy Spirit. 
The Church is a community of memory and hope, sharing in common memory not only of Jesus Christ but also of the mighty deeds of God. It is also a community of worship. Its goal is to bind all members toward one God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Church is one as a unity body, yet also many. It is pluralism moving toward unity and a unity diversifying and specifying itself. It is a figure as we find in the New Testament, a body with many members yet none of which is the whole by itself, but in each of which the whole is symbolized. This Church is in the world, to serve the world according to the will of God. This is the world in which Jesus Christ comes and to which He sends His disciples to serve. Therefore this world is the community to which the Church addresses itself with the Gospel, to which it witnesses of what it has seen and heard in and through the divine revelation, in order to invite them to participate in this new experience. Now we come to the question we all ask, “What are the ultimate goals or objectives of the Church in the community?” The goals or objectives of the Church may be stated differently according to its particular function in the community. The multiplicity of goals corresponds to the pluralism in the Church which made up of many members; each with its own function, for God Himself is complex in His unity. If there is multiplicity of the goals of the Church, we may as well ask this question, “Is there any singleultémate goal in which all other goals are subordinates?” No matter how many goals or objectives of the Church may be directed, there must be one that can hold all together. Richard Niebuhr concludes that the ultimate objective of the Church in its mission to the world is to` increase among men the love of God and the lobe of his neighbor, on the basis of our Lord’s commandment, “. . . You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. . . And you shall love your neighbor as yourself. ” (Matthew 22:37, 39). In the language of Christianity the love of God and the love of neighbor is both “law” and “gospel”. 7 This is the requirement for the Church to accomplish, given by the Determiner of all things and the Giver of His Beloved Son.
The purpose of the Gospel is not only for us to believe in the love of God, but more important is to love Him and our neighbor. That is to say we have to express this love in our actual life situation rather than to alk ab out it. Faith is God’s love toward man is made perfect in man’s love to God and his neighbor. We received our faith in God’s love from Jesus Christ, and that enables us to respond to his love in our part, namely, to love God as well as our neighbor.
The love of God and neighbor simply can not be separated. Niebuhr is certainly right by pointing out that this kind of love should include at least these attitudes and actions:
Rejoice in the presence of the beloved, gratitude, reverence and loyalty toward him. Love is rejoicing over the existence of the beloved one; it is the desire that he be rather not be; it is longing for his presence when he is absent; it is happiness in the thought of him; it is profound satisfaction over everything that makes him great and glorious. Love is gratitude; it is thankfulness for the existence of the beloved; it is the happy acceptance of everything that he gives without the jealous feeling that self ought to be able to do as much, it is a gratitude that does not seek equality; it is wonder over the other’s gift of himself in companionship. Love is reverence; it keeps its distance even as it draws near; it does not seek to absorb the other in self or want to be absorbed by it; it rejoices in the otherness of the others; it desires the beloved to be what he is and does not seek to refashion him into replica of the self or to make him a means to the self’s advancement. Love is loyalty; it is the willingness to let the self be destroyed rather than that the other cease to be; it is the commitment of self by self-binding will to make the other great,  The increase of this kind of love toward God and neighbor in us is the authentic purpose and the hope of our Church ministry through our preaching the Gospel; of all our church organization and activities, such as, outreach and social concern.
It is ideal for the Church to have its mission goals clear to every member, but goals alone cannot make any difference unless the Church has an adequate processing system to move from where it stands toward the end of its expectation. There are many systems available but not every system or theory that can be used will fit the situation of the Church in the United States. Lindgren has suggested in his book “Management for Your Church,” a new theory that will be very productive and meaningful to the Church as an organization. This theory focuses on the accomplishment of the overall objective of the organization, and possesses a sufficient boundary to distinguish it from its environment. This system is comprised of:
- Input system, that is the raw materials from its environment, such as, new technologies and methods, money, hired personnel, and other materials, these materials the Church needs to survive and carry on its activities. These inputs are available, but they are useful for the Church mission only when the Church recognizes them, does not ignore them, and makes use of them.
- When the raw materials are available the next step that the Church needs to have is the transforming system, or the system of how to make use of the raw materials. This is most important part of the organizational system. It is the means by which the Church transforms its raw materials into its desired results, such as conversion, spirituality; social services, and the trained lay workers. Any Church that does not have this system is just like a dainqr person or a person without a digestive organ that soon will die even if he lives among all kinds of good food, This transforming system functions to receive the raw materials which the input system gathered from its environment, to transform and integrate them into the Church programs. Within this transforming process factors which are very important to the life of the Church.
The theological – mission purposes have to do with who the Church is and what its ultimate aspirations are? As mentioned above a sense of mission focuses on an awareness of direction, purpose, and a reason for being. Before the transforming system can transform the raw materials for the use of the Church programs it must have these theological-mission purposes. So that it can provide a proper ingredient for the particular purpose. This is what we are talking about in this part.
This transforming process also has the structure or the organizational structure and processes which the Church uses to accomplish its theological-mission purposes.
Nowadays, most churches are facing the challenges of change in the social institution. These challenges have given the church both a chance to grow fast and face a crisis that could destroy the church organization. Change has become a way of life for churches that need to remain relevant and effective in order to succeed. Many pastors who are struggling to meet the challenges find it difficult to devise creative and effective ways to solve the problems. The challenges of change are most serious than those experienced by previous generations. Many pastors in church feel that their ministry is more difficult today than it has been in the past. For an example, in 1960s and 1970s, most pastors who started new churches attracted church members easily because people liked to go to church. Their churches became financially independent in a few short years. However, in modern days, people have been engaged in worldly affairs to such an extent that they no time even on Sundays to visit the church. On the other hand, they want to use their money for leisure. As a result, churches are no longer financially independent.
Thus, it is imperative that churches must respond to the changing situation more effectively. It is also essential to manage the inherent risk associated with change and innovation. The strategic approach by the local pastor and his leadership team need to align and bring together resources, skills, technology and ideas in order to deliver business benefits and to achieve business objectives within the local congregation. However, opportunities available for pastors are often inadequate for learning how to manage church more effectively in the context of modern organizational settings.
As discussed previously, church management is very important aspect of modern day theology due to the fact that church organization has become very complicated which needs to be run on modern day organizational theories and concepts. For this purpose, it is imperative that pastors should be well aware of the modern concepts of strategic business plans, management styles and practices and should be trained in such a way to run church affairs effectively. For this purpose, this study has the following specific objectives:
- To investigate and analyse the present church management practices
- To analyze the modern organizational strategic business plans, concepts and trends in practice
- And to analyze how these theories and strategies can be aligned in the context of church management
Lewis (2007) posited that for a change process to succeed there was a need for an involvement plan. He added that people accepted change that affected them positively and resisted change that was bad for them. He concluded that people would only embrace those changes that they controlled. Researchers at Prosci (2004) claimed that the most important contributor to project success was active, strong, and visible sponsorship throughout the project from top management, managers and supervisors. Paul Underwood (2005), a senior manager in performance, claimed that realizing benefits and ensuring project success was largely a change management issue. Dharmarag, Lewlyn, Rodrigues, and Shrinivasa (2006) focused on change management as a tool to manage changes in project scope and analyzed the influence of the change in scope on time and cost. Edward (2000) posited that projects changed over time because business requirements change and that to be successful in business, one needs to include these changes in strategic projects. He added that an efficient change management process could make the difference between project success and failure. He claimed that an efficient change management’s process required a well-defined project baseline, a work authorization system, a trend program, and a change control process. The baseline clearly defined what was in and what was out of the project. A work authorization system helped to reduce costs and increased effectiveness in resource management and performance. The main functionality of a trend program was to provide for early alarm of potential changes. Edward concluded that during the change control process employees identified quantified, planned, and evaluated impacts of a change on project baseline. Fielden (2001) claimed that project managers managed all types of change requests including specification and documentation changes through the change management process. He added that change management software applications produced reports that project managers needed in order to track and analyze project performance. According to the Project Management Institute (2004), change may influence a project’s scope, time, and cost.
Green (2003) studied the use of a particular change management technique called configuration management techniques, management and employees increased their support to process improvement efforts and thus created a receptive environment for change. Moreover, the researcher added that communications issues were reduced and processes became less static and came under better organizational control.
According to Fuchs (2004), the functionality of change management should not be limited to managing variance in the project management tried but should include user adoption. Involving business users in the change management process was key to overall project success. Fuchs claimed that project managers failed in delivering their projects because even when change had no impact on any of the three projects constraints, it did impact business users. It was posited that business users should get involved during the start-up of the project, its development, and after its implementation. He argued that any new project implied changes in process, operations, policies, or business. Fuchs concluded that employees who were affected by the project needed to change to adapt to the new project technology, user-interface, or limitations. Change management could help in defining these changes, quantifying them, and planning for their execution.
Nadler and Nadler (1998) attributed changes in business to external factors. The authors claimed that companies changed because something outside the organization forced them to make a change. Nadler and Nadler discussed the change management practices. They named seven steps to drive and sustain change to include: owing, aligning, setting expectations, modelling, communicating, engaging, and rewarding. Goff (2000) claimed that change management tools and process were enough to make change management succeed; rather, it was people who made companies work. Gary Kissler, a partner at Deloitte Consulting Change Leadership practice, concluded that the three components critical to the project’s success and that form an integral part of change management were people, processes, and technology (Goff, 2000).
Gomolski (2003) listed five actions that could help manage the behavioural implications and thus favour the implementation of a comprehensive change management program. The aforementioned actions listed by the author were to (a) identify the desperate need for change, (b) instigate and sustain change, (c) identify and implement levers, (d) identify and sustain affected agents, and (e) identify and use buoys and stabilizers. Jick and Peiperl (2002) claimed that on average 30% of project managers who were responsible to realize change initiatives succeeded. It is interesting to compare these results to those of the study by researchers at Price WaterhouseCoopers. These researchers concluded that only 2.5% of global business achieved 100% project success (PriceWaterhouseCoopers, 2005). While only 2.5% of global businesses achieved 100% project success, 30% of project mangers who were responsible to realize change initiatives succeeded. The evidence indicated that projects that implemented change had a better probability of success than those who did not. According to Laszlo (2004), if change was critical for a company’s success, then change management became crucial for the survival of the organization. He concluded that project managers should accompany change management by motivation through reasoning and then into implementation through planning and execution. The author highlighted how change champions used change management to improve an organization’s success.
Levinson (2006) claimed that researchers at A.G. Edwards found that one of the main reasons for project failure was the lack of implanting a change management process, not just in IT but across the company. The author added that applying the change management process across the company improved project success by 50%. Researchers at Prosci (2004) conducted a benchmarking research on change management. The researchers found that there were varying levels of change management capabilities across organizations. They developed a model that they named the change management maturity model. The model had five levels or stages that ranged from no change management to organizational competency. These levels could be used as measurements of the change management maturity in organizations. Level 1-3 were the lower levels where change management was an ad-hoc process or at most a structured process localized to particular teams or areas in the organizations. Level 4-5 were the levels where change management was an integral part of the project management process and the organization. Eighty-five percent of the 160 companies ranked their change management processes between level one and three. It is asserted that the change management levels could be used to identify the type of change management used in an organization. Level 1-3 included companies whose employee used a traditional change management process while levels 4-5 included companies whose employees used an integrated change management process.
Bin Sayeed and Prasad (2006) linked change orientation experienced with the qualitative differences perceived in the management practices of the company using a sample of 157 managers and supervisors. The researchers inferred that there was a critically higher level of linearity or correspondence between these two major constructs of the study that is, if individuals saw a change due to a change management program implementation or an ongoing organizational learning/maturation process within, there would be a qualitative difference in management practices (Bin Sayeed and Prasad, 2006).
The increasing global competition has concentrated management’s collective mind in most organizations on change. To effect change in the organization, it is important effectively work through such changes (Bridges, 1991). It is people who have to carry out the change in an organization.
In big transformations of organization, the organization’s stakeholders focus their attention on devising the best strategic and tactical plans. Likewise, they try to generate intimate understanding of the human side of change management. As a result of change management, the company’s culture, values, people, and behaviours are also tried to be aligned with the organizational change. This is done to generate the desired results. The organizational value is realized only through the sustained, collective actions of each of the stakeholders in the organization. These stakeholders are responsible for designing, executing, and living with the changed environment.
No single methodology fits every company and organization, be it religious based or non-religious based secular one, in change management efforts. There are no specific sets of practices, tools, and techniques that can be adapted to all situations. The management may have many tools and strategies at their disposal, however, the knowledge and skills in determining how, when and why use them can make or break a change management process.
Best practice can be use in a change management process. This best practice tends to spread throughout a field or industry after a success has been demonstrated. There are, however, best practices that are slow to spread even within an organization. There are several barriers to adoption of a best practice. These include lack of knowledge about current best practices, absence of motivation to make changes involved in their adoption, and deficiency in the knowledge and skills required to do so.
In any change management, the major concerns are on the way the workforce will react on the change, on method on making the team work together, and the way to lead the people in the organization. Usually, what is done in most organizations is retaining their company’s unique values and sense of identity in dealing with change management.
It is important for the company to plan for the human side of change as a major component of the change management plan. It is important to address the human side of change management systematically. Any significant change creates issues on people. Dealing with issues on people on a reactive basis puts speed, morale, and results at risk. Open discussion of challenges and obstacles met in the organization fosters collaboration in the organization to resolve issues internally and externally. It will help in the efficient acceptance of change when involving impacted stakeholders early on the change management process and often. A great challenge in leading and sustaining change is building momentum early on. This is a critical time for any organization since during this time that it is most difficult to obtain buy in that change is necessary and agreement on what needs to be done.
Also, another practice is creating a culture of commitment and performance involving every layer of the organization, as part of change management. This type of culture should start at the top. The leaders are the ones expected to lead on showing a culture of commitment and performance through showing leadership giving strength, support, and direction to its workforce. The leaders must embrace the new approaches first, both to challenge and to motivate the rest of the institution. Leading and sustaining change is the best way to attain efficiency in the organization. Take the change(s) in the organization as opportunities.
In the following sections, five aspects of organizational change will be presented which are planned change, the evolution of schools of management, collaboration and cooperation, organizational culture and change, and the role and evolution of leadership.
Planned change is usually a solution to a problem, or a result of dissatisfaction with the status quo. Planned change is usually triggered by the failure of people to create continuously adaptive organizations (Dunphy, 1996). Oftentimes, planned change initiatives focus on just surface-level changes, essentially leaving organizational assumptions, values, and beliefs unexplored (Argyris & Schon, 1978). There are many change models that are used to aid practitioners in implementing change. These models can be broken into two types of change theories or approaches that organizations can use: radical and incremental. Within each of these approaches there are various models and/or processes.
Radical change approaches include, but are not limited to, six sigma, quality function deployment, and re-engineering. Radical change models are used to jump-start an organization and are also used when a culture change is required. In a traditionally Midwestern family business atmosphere, change is likely to be more heavily resisted than in other organizations because the feelings surrounding the change tend to be deeper and more intense, and previous research shows that family values, goals, and relations deeply influence strategic change in family-oriented firms (Dyer, 1994).
Incremental change approaches include, but are not limited to, Kurt Lewin’s model (1951), Beckhard’s change model (1997), Kotter’s transformation model (1998), and the Bridges transition model (1980). Incremental change models are concerned with improving the existing system and operate within the current business model. All these models have a stage of unfreezing of the current behavior, a change being introduced, and a stage of refreezing the new behavior, or else they begin with the identification of the current state, the desired state, and the blocks and barriers that exist between the two.
John Kotter (1996) suggests that certain conditions need to be met in order to bring about effective change. He bases these conditions on what is known to contribute to the failure of change efforts. Kotter also states that producing change is about 80% leadership (establishing direction, aligning, and motivating and inspiring people) and about 20% management (planning, budgeting, organizing, and problem-solving). In most change efforts he has studied, the percentages have been reversed! While there are some examples of successful change efforts, CEOs report in recent surveys that up to 75% of their organizational change efforts do not yield the promised results (Wheatley, 1998). Numerous studies indicate that as many as two-thirds of all change efforts fail in some way (Trahant, Burke, & Koonce, 1997). These efforts not only fail to yield desired results, but they produce a stream of unintended consequences. This means that leadership spends its time managing the unwanted impact rather than the planned results (Wheatley, 1998). Research also shows that resistance derails most change efforts, with the most notable obstacle being management behaviors not supportive of the change (O’Dononvan, 2003). In a planned change effort, change agents are professionals who influence and implement the change; they are critical to the success of a change effort (Vago, 1999).
Recent studies indicate that static change models are being replaced with dynamic change models that reflect the discontinuous nature of organizational change. In other words, change does not occur at a steady rate even though in the past organizational theory has written about steady or static models. A review of the literature (Mintzberg, 1979; Senge, 1990) reflects the need for organizations to be able to continuously adjust as well as to allow for learning to take place. “Culture change inevitably involves unlearning as well as relearning and is therefore, by definition, transformative” (Schein, 2004, p. 335), thus:
Learning leaders must be well connected to those parts of the organization that are themselves well connected to the environment—the sales organization, purchasing, marketing, public relations, legal, finance, and R&D. . .must be able to listen to disconfirming information coming from these sources and to assess the implications for the future of the organization. (Schein, 2004, p. 410)
There are numerous management theories and schools of thought about systems management identified in the literature. Scott (2003) identified three main schools of thought: rational, natural, and open; also referred to in the literature as rationalistic and humanistic schools. Scott (2003) presented definitions associated with rational systems and natural systems perspectives: “Organizations are collectivities oriented to the pursuit of relatively specific goals and exhibiting relatively highly formalized social structures” (p. 27) and
Organizations are collectivities whose participants are pursuing multiple interests, both disparate and common, but who recognize the value of perpetuating the organization as an important resource. The informal structure of relations that develops among participants is more influential in guiding the behavior of participants than is the formal structure, respectively. (p. 28)
Collaboration as a value is a cornerstone upon which many successful organizations are being rebuilt. During a review of the literature on collaboration and cooperation, the researcher found that although these two terms are often used interchangeably, many authors identified a meaningful difference between the two. The researcher is using the terms collaboration and cooperation interchangeably or synonymously.
Cooperative learning refers to learning environments in which group members work together to achieve a common goal; however, the members of the group may choose to take responsibility for subtasks and work cooperatively, or they may collaborate and work together on all parts of the problem (Underwood, 2003). Cooperative learning occurs when individuals work together to maximize both their own as well as other’s learning experiences. In business organizations today, teams are a popular form of job design, and work teams represent a major change in the management of organizations. Cooperative or team-based learning has gained in popularity (Siciliano, 2001). “Team learning is the process of aligning and developing the capacity of a team to create the results its members truly desire. It builds upon the discipline of developing a shared vision” (Senge, 1990, p. 236).
Communities of practice (CoPs) have been identified as playing a critical role in the promotion of learning and innovation in organizations. Communities of practice have been defined as any social group whose members share a mutual engagement, who negotiate a joint enterprise, and who have developed a shared vision (Machles, 2003). Lave and Wenger (as cited by Wenger & Snyder, 2000) wrote that a defining feature of CoP is that they are seen to emerge spontaneously from the (largely informal) networking among groups of individuals who have similar work-related activities and interests. Lesser and Everest (as cited by Wenger & Snyder, 2000) wrote that communities of practice help provided an environment where knowledge could be both created and shared to improve the following three areas: effectiveness, efficiency, and innovation. Perry and Zender (2004) found that in 1999 the phrase “communities of practice” was just beginning to appear in business literature and that it was used to refer to a new organizational form that complemented existing structures by facilitating knowledge sharing, learning, and change.
A survey of the literature on organizational culture produced many definitions on culture. Organizational culture – an organization’s values, beliefs and rules about how things get done – influences every aspect of life in corporate America (Bierma, 1996). Many referred to culture as being commonly held beliefs, attitudes, values, expectations, and norms that exist within the organization that have been derived from both its history and the external environment (Glensor & Peak, 1996; Pratt & Margaritis, 1999; Schein, 1992), while others described corporate culture as the personality of an organization (Larson, 2002). Any organization can do a quick test of its corporate culture by looking at what it measures and what it celebrates (Larson, 2002). Culture is important when looking at continuous change because it acts as the glue for holding the multiple changes in place.
Mallak (2001) identified strong cultures as having a set of core values or key principles that are not only understood by all employees, but also followed. One must recognize that effective cultural change is a long-term process and does not happen overnight. While the desired culture can be captured on paper, it takes time for it to exist in reality. The challenge comes in shifting the culture of the organization. McManus (2003) stated that cultural change is possible and necessary, but argues that it is essential for people to understand and appreciate the reasons for the desired changes. McManus (2003) mentioned that both the current beliefs and mental models, which make up the current collective culture, must be shifted for a change to occur. He explained that while training will provide an awareness of the new culture, it alone will not shift beliefs.
Larson (2002) defines the culture of an organization as nothing more that its personality as defined by the individuals that work there. Just as it is difficult for individuals to modify or change their personality, it is the same for an organization. In fact, it is compounded when looking at an organization due to all the systems, processes, and people. Schein (1992) defined organizational culture as the pattern of basic assumptions, values, norms, beliefs, and artifacts that are shared by organizational members that allows them to derive sense and meaning. Schein (2004) saw culture as a result of three sources: “The beliefs, values, and assumptions of founders of organizations; the learning experiences of group members as their organization evolves; and new beliefs, values, and assumptions brought in by new members and leaders” (p. 225).
Jick (1999) wrote, “No organization can institute change if its employees will not, at the very least, accept the change. No change will work if employees don’t help in the effort. And, change is not possible without people changing themselves” (p. 1). Jick (1999) also stated that while change can be managed externally, it would only be implemented when employees accept the change internally. Dotlich and Noel (1998) asserted, “The ability of organizations to change has become inextricably linked to the ability of individual employees to change” (p. 149). Changing the culture is not a quick process as culture is a network of embedded practices and representations that shapes every aspect of social life (Frow & Morris, 2000). Changing an organization’s culture will affect the micro (individual) and macro (organization) levels (Vago, 1999).
A majority of the literature stated that one must identify the current culture before one can determine how to change it, and that this can be accomplished by utilizing various types of culture assessment instruments (Maher, 2000). Ultimately, “The bottom line for leaders is that if they do not become conscious of the cultures in which they are embedded, those cultures will manage them” (Schein, 2004, p. 23). Cameron and Quinn (2000) noted that most organizations do not operate within a single culture. This presents a unique dynamic when attempting to change an organization’s culture. Some of literature mentioned that when referring to an organization’s culture, the dominant culture, which represents the core values that are shared by most of the members, is what was being referred to (Simpson, 2001). All the literature agrees that a change only occurs when both the organization as a whole and all of its individuals are committed to the change process.
Schneider, Gunnarson, and Niles-Jolley (1994) suggest that because an organizational culture cannot be changed directly, it changes slowly. They propose that the organizational environment and climate must first have its practices, procedures, and behaviors modified before a change in culture can occur. Schein (2004) expounded upon this basis for changing an organizational culture by stating that “building an effective organization is ultimately a matter of meshing the different subcultures by encouraging the evolution of common goals, common language, and common procedures for solving problems” (p. 289).
Baker (2004) quoted Kotter from an interview: “Leadership, as much as anything, creates the culture, and culture helps shape the leadership. It’s a chicken-and-egg thing” (So how do you get these changes done? section, ¶ 2). Leaders have the responsibility to both reinforce and reshape an organization’s culture (Kotter & Heskett, 1992; Schein, 2004).
The concept of leadership has evolved over time and can be grouped into several themes – beginning with the leaders’ traits or who they are, moving to the leaders’ behavior or what they do, next to the leadership situation, and lastly to leaders’ character or everything for which they stand. The great man and trait theories (Daft, 2002) assumed that leaders were born not made – that leadership qualities were inherent in one’s personality. In other words, one was born to lead. In the behavioral approach, behaviors could be learned. If individuals adopt the right behaviors, then they could become good leaders. Environmental leadership approaches assumed that everyone was born with a blank slate; thus leaders were a result of events that provided opportunities and could be made – the nature versus nurture paradigm. Situational approaches were based upon the premise that there was not one best way, but rather that effective leadership was based upon many situational variables. Contingency approaches linked leadership style and follower attributes, stating that effective leadership was dependent upon the situation, while contemporary leadership approaches are character-based and focus on a leader doing the right thing.
Today, leadership is understood to be a much more complex phenomenon than either the great man or great event approaches considered (Rost, 1991). Schein (2004) alleged that it was not the leader’s personality, but rather the leader’s learning capacity that was critical for cultural transformation. Two leadership approaches still have merit today and are widely used: situational and contemporary. “The effectiveness of leader behavior is contingent upon organizational situations. Aptly called contingency approaches, these theories explain the relationship between leadership styles and effectiveness in specific situations” (Daft, 2002, p. 79). There are several theories that fall under the broad heading contingency approaches including:
- Fiedler’s contingency model – designed to enable leaders to diagnose both leadership style and organizational situation with a leaders effectiveness dependent upon how well the leaders style fits the situation
- Hersey and Blanchard’s situational theory – premise that subordinates vary in readiness level and thus need different leadership styles, and based upon directive and supportive dimensions
- Goal-path theory – premise that the leader’s responsibility is to increase subordinates motivation to attain personal and organizational goals by emphasizing the relationship between the leader’s style, the subordinate’s style, and the work environment
- Vroom-Jago model – development-driven model that permits leaders to adopt a participation style by answering diagnostic questions in sequence
These contingency approach models assumed that there was no one best approach to leadership, but rather that a leader could identify the appropriate leadership style by reflecting upon the subordinates’ capability and willingness (Daft, 2002). This was supported by Blanchard and Blanchard (2005) when they proposed, “Great leaders know how to tailor management styles to individual employees. They realize that they must understand their people well enough to give them the direction and support they need to succeed” (p. 54). In other words, leadership effectiveness must be determined by the adaptability of the leader to the follower’s situation, specifically to the skill and maturity level being displayed.
Contemporary leadership approaches tend to focus on the whole person. Several approaches fall into contemporary leadership: servant leadership, transactional leadership, and charismatic or transformational leadership. Servant leadership was based on a premise by Robert Greenleaf that servant leaders put others’ interests and needs before their own. Transactional and transformational leadership approaches have been considered to be on opposite sides of a spectrum. Transactional typically refers to an exchange process between leaders and followers in which the leader essentially manages and maintains the organization, whereas transformational refers to leaders who attempt to engage the whole person toward a shared goal whereby promoting fundamental changes that aid the organization in remaining competitive in a rapidly changing environment.
A review of the literature on leadership has shown that trait leadership has not disappeared as it can be seen in contemporary leadership approaches today (Northouse, 2004). Transformational leadership assumes a leader has influence that results in followers and ultimately an organization exceeding performance expectations (Northouse, 2004). Conger (1999) found that transformational leadership’s focus was on change and empowerment that typically consisted of several components: leaders possess charisma or a strong ability to influence others; leadership is capable of inspiring others to action; leaders have strong mental or intellectual capabilities; and leaders have the ability to understand individuals and their needs. In fact, Conger (1999) explained, “At the heart of the [transformational] model is the notion that transformational leaders motivate their followers to commit to and to realize performance outcomes that exceed their expectations” (p. 149). Transformational leadership is characterized by a leader’s ability to bring about significant change (Daft, 2002).
A review of the literature showed another description of leadership—adaptive versus operational. Pascale et al. (2000) defined operational leadership as occurring when a leader appropriately exercises authority during times of equilibrium, while describing adaptive leadership as one who “makes happen what isn’t going to happen otherwise” (p. 39), with the caveat being that successful leaders will effectively balance both of these leadership styles.
Rost (1991) and Daft (2002) saw leadership as an influence relationship resulting in a mutually desired change.
You can’t get people to make an exceptional commitment to sustained great performance out of fear. . . . The only way to get people to achieve remarkable results is by being willing to show them that you genuinely and personally care about them. (Webber, 1999, p. xii)
Kotter’s eight-step approach to organizational change (1996) was based upon years of evaluating failed change efforts, and addresses many of the problems identified by Beer and Nohria (as cited by Vakola, Tsausis, & Nikolaou, 2004). These eight steps include:
- Establish a sense of urgency – Create a burning platform.
- Create a guiding coalition – Individuals who are well-respected and who are committed to the change initiative that have the power and influence to drive this change through the organization.
- Develop the vision and strategy – This must be a relevant vision that can be clearly articulated by every employee within the organization.
- Communicate the vision – This must be done to gain buy-in.
- Empower employees to action – Organizations must remove barriers that prevent employees from achieving the organization’s vision.
- Create short-term wins – So as to energize employees and build momentum necessary for the change initiative.
- Do not let up – Change must be embedded within the organization in order to make the vision a reality.
- Make change stick by anchoring these new approaches in the culture – Create supporting systems, processes, and structures that strengthen the culture.
Kouzes and Posner (2002) expressed that leadership was about practice, not personality. They identified the common themes and created a model of leadership in which they identified successful leadership practices (taken from the followers’ perspective):
- Challenge the process – Constantly ask, “Why are things being done this way?”
- Inspire a shared vision – Share the vision so as to provide direction and meaning to engage others in its pursuit.
- Enable others to act – Foster environments that enable others to act to produce both high task and high results accomplishments.
- Model the way – Lead by example.
- Encourage the heart – Recognize individuality as well as hard work and success.
As indicated by DeSimone, Werner, and Harris (2002), “Cultural changes involve a complex process of replacing an existing paradigm or way of thinking with another” (p. 594) resulting in a new set of values, systems, and processes, which can only be accomplished through effective leadership. Kotter and Heskett (1992) asserted that producing change is the primary role of leadership within an organization and that competent leadership is the primary driver of successful organizational change, thus “Without leadership, purposeful change of any magnitude is almost impossible” (p. 99). That being said, this researcher sees no value in creating a new model for leadership of an organizational cultural intervention when several successful models are in existence today that have been built based upon failed change efforts and are fully supported by the literature. This researcher reviewed many models, with a strong focus on Kotter’s eight-step approach and Kouzes and Posner’s five practices of effective leadership. This review showed a strong similarity between the two as both models include inspiring a shared vision, enabling others to act, and creating short-term wins. Thus either model by itself would be effective.
Kotter’s eight steps might appear to be relatively simple, but that is far from the case as can be seen by the magnitude of the number of failed change efforts depicted in the literature! Schein (1992) posited that the roles of leadership and organizational culture are linked: “Change then occurs through cognitive redefinition of key concepts, and the resulting behavioral changes become frozen in the personality of the individuals and in the norms and routines of the group” (p. 312). Organizational culture is a result of an organization successfully managing these eight steps and inculcating the change.
Dotlich and Noel (1988) stated, “The ability to turn on a dime, to create new organizational structures, cultures and mind-sets that thrive on a diet of rapid-fire change, has become critical to ongoing business success”. After reviewing the current literature on change and organizational change, one must come to the realization that change is no easy feat, especially as the research indicated that up to 75% of change efforts do not yield the promised results (Wheatley, 1998). The research indicated that the success of a change effort boils down to three essential ingredients: planning, communication, and participation. In order for a cultural change to be successful, one must ensure (a) active participation in each step of the process, (b) that one has the ability to accurately assess the existing culture while defining the desired culture, (c) that one can define the gap between the two and create an effective action plan, and last but not least (d) that there is a leader who can clearly communicate and create passion around the desired change.
Change on the current corporate stage is common and constant. From an organizational perspective, the idea of seeing, creating and facilitating change is one of the most difficult, perplexing and challenging opportunities faced by organizational theorists, managers and leaders. This challenge has often led to increasingly unfavourable outcomes.
Kanter (1983) articulated a thought-provoking reflection of the condition of today’s business community by asserting that:
Business organizations are facing a change more extensive, more far-reaching in its implications, and more fundamental in transforming quality than anything since the “modern” industrial system took shape in the years between, rough, 1890 and 1920 (p. 16).
Strategic change is more than just tactical or operative changes. Strategic changes are very important, critical and very often crucial for the survival of many airlines around the world. Although change is a constant factor in airlines, there is no tested method for achieving successful strategic change.
Strategic change should be developed by a company or an organisation, to assist them remain competitive. There are many different driving forces behind the strategic changes within a company. The variation of environment can trigger for a strategic change with increasing competitive pressure, changes in the economy such as shifts in commodity prices, legislation and energy costs. The environment is certainly on everyone’s mind these days, with issues like climate change and high fuel prices being at the top of business and political agendas. The international airline industry, obviously affected by these global issues, must play its part in addressing these issues. Macro-economic changes, pressure from low-cost carriers and the growth in e-commerce have affected both the industry and individual companies. Often strategic change is also explained (more or less) in a direct consequence of institutional changes in the organisation’s environment (Child, 1999, p.130).
The literature on strategic change usually distinguishes between two types of change which have variously been described as first-order Vs second order change (Watzlawick et al 1974; Bartunek 1984), evolutionary / incremental Vs revolutionary/ transformational / radical change.
Alternatively, strategic changes cast in more socio-psychological, inter-subjective terms such as dominant logics (Bettis and Prahalad, 1995), shared strategic intent (Hammel and Prahalad, 1989), paradigm (Johnson, 1998) industry recipes (Spender, 1989) and such like or again in more anthropological and social terms, drawing on notions of culture (Hofstede 1980, Schein 1985, Johnson 1988) and institutional fields (Schott 1985, Greenwood et al 2002).
The national culture implies in many different aspects on an organisation. This means that when designing any strategic change one has to be familiar with the local conditions and what impact the national culture may have.
The notion of strategic change can be used on all levels of the organisation. This is in line with the theories put forward by Senge (1990) who argues that the organisations that will be most successful are the ones that are able to incorporate five basic disciplines:
- System thinking
- Personal mastery
- Mental models
- Building a shared vision
- Team learning
To be able for the organisation to achieve any change, the people in the organisation should build mental models of the shared vision to be strived for. A football team does not win a game because the members like to be together. It wins because it plays smart, knows how to play the game better than the opposition, avoids unnecessary errors, and pulls together as a coordinated unit. It is assumed that the ability to influence change increases as a consequence of the increased competence of the employees (Kylen, 1993).
For years social scientists insisted that humans resist change and so they do. But they resist only those changes they do not understand, are suspicious of, or consider to be against their interest. Humans embrace change that seems good for them or good for the world they live and care about. A new idea or a new expectation, in itself, will seldom bring about change. On the other hand, change can be very attractive if it is the product of a new idea or expectation that appears to be in the best interests of the people who are expected to adopt it, if it is accompanied by the means for its fulfilment, and if it results in recognition and approval (Kepner and Tregoe, 1981, p.19-20).
Argyris and Schön (1978) concluded that it is the most knowledgeable and experienced employees who are most likely to feel inhibited and frustrated by change demands. Their sense of inhibition causes disbelief and distrust; employees lose their sense of commitment and they develop defensive routines in an attempt to either impede or prevent change. This resistance becomes so embedded it is hard to overcome and it cannot be defeated by force under any normal circumstances (Thomson with Martin, 2005, p.815-816)
To overcome any resistance Argyris and Schön developed ‘action science’ in an attempt to achieve this. Fundamentally, this requires the generation of powerful, shared knowledge that is relevant to the needs of both the business and its employees.
Communication and trust are at the care. Kotter and Schlesinger (1979) have identified six ways of overcoming resistance to change.
- Education and communication
- Participation and involvement
- Facilitation and support
- Negotiation and agreement
- Manipulation and co-optation
- Explicit and implicit coercion
They suggest that each method has both advantages and disadvantages and can be appropriate in particular circumstances (Thompson with Martin, 2005, p.815).
There are a number of models based in the context of organisational change. In this sub chapter a step-by-step method is presented, which is based on Kotter’s 8 steps model. John Kotter (1990) proposed that leading change requires: establishing direction, aligning people and motivating and inspiring (Figure 1).
|Step 1: Urgency|
|Step 2: Developing vision and strategy|
|Step 3: Guiding coalition|
|Step 4: Communicating vision|
|Step 5: Empowering action|
|Step 7: Consolidating gains|
|Step 8: Anchoring|
|Step 6: Short-term wins|
|Figure 1: Kotter’s 8 Steps Model|
For change to happen, it helps if the whole company really wants it. Develop a sense of urgency around the need for change. This may help the company spark the initial motivation and get things moving. Open an honest and convincing dialogue about what’s happening in the marketplace and with the company’s competition.
The company should convince people that change is necessary. This often takes strong leadership and visible support from key people within the company. The company may find effective change leaders throughout the organisation – they don’t necessarily follow the traditional company hierarchy. Once formed the “change coalition” needs to work as a team, continuing to build urgency and momentum around the need for change.
A clear vision can help everyone understand why the company is asking them to do something. When people see for themselves what the company is trying to achieve, then the directions they’re given tend to make more sense. Without a clear vision the change project has a high risk of failing.
The message will probably have strong competition from other day-to-day communication within the company, so the company needs to communicate it frequently and powerfully, and embed it within that company do.
There are always obstacles that have to be removed in order to succeed with a change process. There are particularly four important obstacles to consider; structures, skills, systems and managers. By removing obstacles the company can empower the people that will execute the new vision and it can help the change move forward.
Nothing motivates more than success. The company must give a taste of victory early in the change process. Within a short time frame (this could be a month or a year, depending on the type of change). Without this, critics and negative thinkers might hurt the progress.
Nothing motivates more than success. As a major change takes time it is important not to declare victory too early and to risk momentum in the transformation. It is a fact that the competitors always wait for a change to strike back.
Finally, to make any change stick, it should become part of the core, of the company. The change has succeeded when the new way of doing things has become the common way to do it and used in daily work (Mind Tool, 2008).
Numerous attempts have been made to define the learning organisation.
For example, Pedler, Boydell and Burgoyne (1988), who prefer the term ‘learning company’, define it as “…an organisation which facilitates the learning, of all its members and continuously transforms itself”.
Honey’s (1991) definition begins by describing learning in ‘conventional’ organisations:
“…people learn whether we want them to or not. The trouble is that most organisations are unwittingly designed to encourage the acquisition of behaviours and practices they wish they had less off. The learning organisations seek to reverse this by creating an environment where the behaviours and practices involved in continuous improvement are actively encouraged” (Honey, 1991, p.30).
A common characteristic of most interpretation of the learning organisation is that there should be some form of interaction involving the development of the organisation and the personal development of the employees. Furthermore, a most conceptualisation of the learning organisation point towards a new kind of workplace learning, a move towards what Argyris and Schön (1978) would term ‘deutero-learning’. To clarify: Arguris and Schön distinguish between three types of learning: single-loop learning, double-loop learning and deutero-learning. The first form of learning, single-loop learning, is the most common and familiar form in Arguris and Schön’s typology.
It is the form which involves the least disruption to things as they are within organisations. At the most basic level, this term refers to survival learning, learning standard operations, learning to detect errors, and learning to return things to a normal state. Single-loop learning thus serves to reproduce existing norms, values, and practices. The second kind of learning, the double-loop learning, is crucial for any organisation that wishes to adapt to changes in the external environment. Essentially, this term refer to adaptive learning: learning which is based upon challenging existing organisational norms, values and practices, and on questioning procedures in a way that facilitates organisational flexibility, an organisation’s responsiveness to change. At the highest level of Arguris and Schön’s typology is deutero-learning, we would term this generative learning: this refer to an organisation’s ability to develop the capacity to pre-emp changes in the external environment, an organisation’s capacity to learn how to learn and its ability to sustain that process.
Several different models of the learning organisation have been proposed, reflecting, perhaps, either the fact that the concept is in an early stage of development and articulation, or that the term is being used to encapsulate a number of disparate ideas. By far the most significant and influential piece of writing from within the learning organisation literature is Peter Senge (1990). Senge begins by defining learning organisations as “…organisations where people continually expand their capacities to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning how to learn together” (Senge, 1990, p.130).
It is important to note that Senge (1990) is pointing towards the need of all organisations to embark upon a journey of continuous improvement, one which, by definition, will have no real ending point. Also learning organisations facilitate learning process to implement change. As Senge defines it, an overarching systems thinking is the fifth of five emergent disciplines which are leading to the innovation of learning organisations. In using the term ‘disciplines’ Senge is referring simultaneously to ways of understanding and ways of doing. A discipline is therefore, a developmental path to greater proficience (Senge, 1990, p.10). Senge proposes that while some of the five disciplines – systems thinking, personal mastery, mental models, building shared vision, and team learning – may originally have developed separately and are the collective product of many different people, they are increasingly converging to create learning organisations. Senge is not entirely clear about what he means in this connection. Some inherent contradictions lead to difficulties in putting Senge’s ideas into practice. At a more pragmatic level, there is a distinct lack of concrete, practical recommendations for the implementation of Senge’s ideas mainly because less attention is paid to the role and requirements of lower level workers within the organisation. Many people today believe that the learning organisation is in itself a vague idea and the idea must be adapted to each single organisation and its particular needs before it can be implemented. Although there is very little guidance some arguments are proposed by Charles Handy in his (1994) text “The Empty Raincoat”. Essentially, Handy is proposing that companies must continually look ahead rather than assume that current conditions will continue. He likens such thinking to the Japanese concept of Kaizen, or continuous improvement. In this formulation, there are clearly connections, once again, to be made with Argyris and Schön’s idea of deuteron learning. Handy is proposing that organisations may need to rethink fundamentally their approach to strategic decision to what has gone before, and to engage in the more forward looking.
Since the ideas related to the learning organisation would appear centrally to involve a focus on future organisational changes, a more developmental model of the changes that an organisation needs to undergo to achieve learning organisation status might constitute a useful guide.
Such a model is provided by Jones and Hendry (1992), who suggest that, in order to become a learning organisation, any organisation will need to embark on a process incorporating five main phases of learning. These are as follows:
|Figure 2: Five main phases of learning (Jones and Hendry model (1992)
- The Foundation Phase, where the focus of attention is on assisting people within the organisation to learn how to learn. This may mean concentrating on the development of basic skills such as numeracy and literacy, and on encouraging individuals to be interested in and committed to learning.
- The Formation Phase, where the attitudinal shift which has been effected by the Foundation Phase, is built upon, and where encouragement is given to individuals to initiate their own learning and self-development.
- The Continuation Phase, where individuals feel sufficiently confident to make their own decisions about their future learning activities.
- The Transformation Phase, where at both an individual and organisational level there is a process of rethinking and deciding what skills need to be acquired or actions taken in order to progress.
- The Transfiguration Phase, where both the organisation as an entity and the individuals who make up its workforce are sufficiently adept, as learners, to adapt and respond to any changing external circumstances and learning has become a process that is ongoing at all levels.
Continuous improvement programs are proliferating as corporations seek to better themselves and gain an edge. Unfortunately, however, failed programs for outnumber successes, and improvement rates remain low. That’s because most companies have failed to grasp a basic truth. Before people and companies can improve, they first must learn. And to do this, they need to look beyond rhetoric and high philosophy and focus on the fundamentals.
Three critical issues must be addressed before a company can truly become a learning organisation, writes Harvard Business School professor David Garvin. First is the question of meaning a well-grounded, easy-to-apply definition of a learning organisation. Second comes Management clearer operational guidelines for practice. Finally, better tools for Measurement can assess an organisation’s rate and level of learning.
Using these “three Ms” as a framework, Garvin defines learning organisations as skilled at five main activities: systematic problem solving, experimentation with new approaches, learning from past experience, learning from the best practices of others, and transferring knowledge quickly and efficiently throughout the organisation. And since you cannot manage something if you cannot measure it, a complete learning audit is important/ necessary. That includes measuring cognitive and behavioural changes as well as tangible improvements in results.
Comparing Learning Organisation literature with the change management theories reveals many striking similarities between these two perspectives. In fact the whole idea of a learning organisation seems to combine the best parts of previous writing on change management (e.g. Tichy, 1983; Pettigrew, 1985; 1988; Whipp, Rosenfeld & Pettigrew, 1987) and effective leadership (e.g. Mintzberg, 1973; Pleffer, 1977; 1981). It is apparent that although the learning organisation literature does not use the concept of change resistance, it is there. What else than a reflection of change resistance could develop of defensive routines (Arguris, 1990) be? It is thus justified to say that one of the major shortcomings of learning organisation models is the ignorance of the change management theory. On the other hand, although in the change management literature the concept of organisational learning is not clearly defined, it is there.
It is simply seen as something that increases an organisation’s ability to implement planned change and reach its objectives. It is not only the learning of the new but also the unlearning of the old that is needed in order to make the change successful. In the organisational turmoil learning reduces uncertainty and thus inevitably also helps in reducing change resistance (Geertz, 1964).
The area of organisational learning and the learning organisation is of burgeoning interest among progressive business organisations, educationalists and consultants concerned with transformational change in turbulent business environments. A key feature of this approach to learning and managing change is a focus on teamwork. Reviews of the organisational literature identify the role of teamworking in building a learning organisation.
A challenge facing contemporary business organisations is to redefine and change their organisations in such a way as to be consistent with the learning organisation notion but many difficulties remain to be articulated in the design of such organisations (Strachan, 1996, p.32-40).
Understanding strategic change requires accounting for not only macro-level structural changes but also the internal changes in psychological states and interpretive schemes which explain how employees change alongside the formal structure of their organisations (Gioia & Ghittipeddi, 1991).
Investigating strategic change is often traced back to external inputs such as changes in the composition of the top management team (e.g. Clark/ Starkey 1988; Grinyer/ Spender 1979; Grinyer et al. 1988; Johnson 1992 Lant et al; 1992) or to the involvement of external consultants (Mezias et al. 2001; Pettigrew 1985). Some strategic scholars (e.g. Henry 2000; Whittington 1996 2001, 2003; Johnson et al. 2003), said that change should be treated as an internal phenomenon where change is the result of the organisational strategic practice. The organisations that will truly excel in the future will be the organisations that will discover how to tap people’s commitment and capacity to learn at all levels (Senge, 1990).
Kotter and Schlesigner (1979) and later Waterman (1987) suggested that most companies need to make moderate organisational changes at least every year, with major changes every four years. Today there are considerable difficulties in conceptualizing the actual sources of strategic change. Kotter (1990) argues it is the leader’s job to “create and manage change”.
Organisation learning is a process of detecting and correcting errors (Argyris, 1977). Organisation learning occurs through shared insights, knowledge, and mental models…[and] builds on past knowledge and experience that is, on memory (Stata, 1989).
Management theory is packed with various tools for managing change effectively and new ones are developed all the time. One could actually claim that the concepts of organisational learning and learning organisations fit into the same category of tools, since they also try to grasp the core of successful change. Also, Kolb’s experiential learning theory (Kolb, 1984 and 1996) has been developed in order to “make a theory a powerful device when faced with the challenge of personal and organisational change” (Holman, Parlica & Thorpe, 1997, p. 136). However organisational learning and change are not different, but parallel, simultaneous and interactive processes. The unifying factor is behavioural adaptation and thus learning has a mediating role in the change process. Consequently, they should not be isolated from each other.
The organisational model developed on the basis of a case study in late 90’s (see Lahteenmäki, Toivonen, Mattila 1997; 2001) sees organisational learning as continuous interaction between attitudes and structures. The holistic yet simultaneous dynamic model of organisational learning that is suggested, brings together the concept of different learning levels and the step-by-step procedural change process. In this thinking the main actor in organisational learning is always the individual (Argyris, 1992; Senge, 1990).
Making the future together à Implemented – change
Collaborative setting of Making the personnel
Missions and Strategies commit to the mission
Ability to learn Creating Favourable
Step 1 conditions for learning
The model presumes that there is constant interaction between both the individual and structural levels. Reaching a structural level in the learning process means, in practice, structural changes, which in turn affect the individual level and call for more individual learning. According to this model the three steps in the change/ learning process represent different levels of internalization of the change in structures. However, the internalization isn’t always problem free, just the opposite, it is problematic because there is a shadow land of defensive routines in even the most suitable learning environments (Argyris, 1990).
Due to this, structural changes are not fully accepted at an individual level, because every change process contains elements of both internalization and coercion (Santala 1996, p. 218-235).
If the implemented charge is subjectively interpreted as being coercive – which in many cases is the fact – it is bound to provoke resistance to change. Change resistance, according to the model actually means a resistance to unlearn, in which defensive routines are developed in order to avoid to do so (Lähteenmäki, Toivonen & Mattila, 2001). Another interpretation for change resistance is the pure fear of loosing a job, position social contacts or power. Feeling of uncertainty is mastered by using rational arguments against the change and explanations for change resistance – and many times with successful results. Therefore taking a coercive change approach can not be recommended. (Lähteenmaki 2001, p. 8-9).
It is predicted that the concept of learning organisation is a necessary tool to manage strategic change in the company. Cyprus Airways has got only a few years to convert into an airline that has a long-term and robust future.
As long as efforts at learning and change are focused on external organisational factors-job redesign, compensation programs, performance reviews, and leadership training – the professionals were enthusiastic participants. Indeed, creating new systems and structures was precisely the kind of challenge that well-educated, highly motivated professionals thrived on. And just the moment the guest for continuous improvement turned to the professionals’ own performance, something went wrong. It wasn’t a matter of bad attitude. The professional’s commitment to excellence was genuine, and the vision of the company was clear. Nevertheless, continuous improvements did not persist. And the longer the continuous improvement efforts continued, the greater the likelihood that they would produce ever-diminishing returns. What happened? The professionals began to feel embarrassed. They were threatened by the prospect of critically examining their role in the organisation. Indeed, because they were so well paid (and generally believed that their employers were supportive and fair), the idea that their performance might not be at its best made them feel guilty. Far from being a catalyst for real change, such feelings caused most to react defensively (Argyris, 1991, p.81).
Relatively few studies have been conducted that have examined the concept of leadership practices within church ministry settings. Zook (1993) used the Leadership Practices Inventory (LPI) in a study that explored the leadership practices of 132 pastors of churches with congregations ranging in size from 2,000 to 10,000 people. Results of the study revealed that congregations with younger pastors experienced faster growth than churches with older pastors. Bridges (1995) used the LPI in a study that examined the relationship between the leadership practices of senior pastors and the decadal growth rate of attendance at Sunday morning worship services at their church during their term of service within a randomly selected sample of 291 pastors of churches serving in the Northwestern United States. Roberts (1997) conducted a qualitative multiple-case study that investigated the leadership practices of elders in three growing Church of Christ congregations in South Florida. Results of the study revealed that elders within these growing churches engaged in leadership practices that remained in balance with the biblical functions of leadership, related in an open and trusting way with the congregation, and were relevant in ministering biblical principles to a changing society. Prillaman (1998) conducted a qualitative study that explored the leadership practices and values of evangelical church leaders in Bolivia. Richie (2002) conducted a mixed methods study that examined the key principles and practices of pastoral leadership within the Church of God.
There has been very little empirical research conducted that has explored the concept of organizational climate within church ministry settings. Pargament, Silverman, et al. (1983) used the Congregation Climate Scales (CCS) in a study that examined the psychosocial climate of religious congregations. Pargament, Johnson, et al. (1985) examined the implications of person–environment congruence within different types of religious settings. Pettegrew (1993) conducted a mixed-methods study that examined the relationship of organizational climate factors, motivation, and satisfaction within a sample of 549 volunteers from evangelical protestant churches. Results of the study indicated a strong positive relationship between the presence of positive organizational climate factors and both volunteer motivation and satisfaction. Park (2001) examined the relationship between organizational climate and job satisfaction among Sunday school teachers in the Korea Evangelical Holiness Church in a study involving 416 teachers from 17 churches located in Seoul, Korea. Results of the study revealed significant but weak correlations between job satisfaction and organizational climate.
The concept of organizational commitment within church ministry settings has also received relatively little attention in previous research. Von Der Haar (1985) explored the organizational commitment of the parishioners of eight Catholic churches in Indianapolis, IN. Results of the study revealed that parishioners’ belief in the legitimate authority of church leaders was a necessary precondition for strong religious commitment. Montgomery (1991) examined the relationship between communication climate and organizational commitment in a study involving the congregations of five churches located in a major urban center in the Southwestern United States. Results of the study revealed significant relationships between the communication climate variables of communication relationships and information adequacy and the organizational commitment of congregational members.
Caddell (1992) explored the influence of congregational homogeneity and congregational social interaction upon congregational organizational commitment within a sample of 62 congregations in central Illinois, Chicago, northern Indiana, and Indianapolis. Results of the study revealed a strong positive relationship between congregational social interaction and congregational organizational commitment. Baack et al. (1993) used the OCQ in a study involving 262 clergy that examined whether the antecedents of organizational commitment in profit-seeking firms predicted the organizational commitment of clergy serving in church settings. Results of the study revealed that the clergy respondents consistently possessed higher levels of attitudinal and calculative commitment than counterparts in the for-profit sector.
Alexander (2004) used the OCQ in conjunction with the Minnesota Satisfaction Questionnaire in a study that explored the relationship between job satisfaction and organizational commitment within a sample of African-American male ministers employed in local congregations. Results of the study revealed a significant relationship between normative commitment and job satisfaction. Markow and Klenke (2005) examined the influence of personal meaning and calling upon organizational commitment within the context of spiritual leadership. Results of the study revealed that personal calling was positively related to organizational commitment and that personal calling mediates the relationship between self-transcendent personal meaning and organizational commitment. Walker (2005) examined the relationship between job satisfaction, organizational citizenship behavior, and organizational commitment within the context of Protestant workplace ministry settings.
This lack of research within ministry contexts involving the key theories and variables about church management being explored within this study is clear evidence of a need to expand the literature through additional research.
Perceived Leadership Practices
McNeese-Smith (1991) used an earlier edition of the LPI in a study that investigated the influence of supervisor leadership practices upon subordinate job satisfaction, productivity, and organizational commitment within a sample of 41 department managers and 471 employees of two Seattle-area hospitals. Results of the study revealed positive relationships between both the leadership practices of enabling others to act and challenging the process and the organizational commitment of subordinates.
Gunter (1997) used the LPI in conjunction with the OCQ (Porter et al., 1974) in a study that examined the relationship between perceived leadership practices and organizational commitment in a study involving 141 employees of a large music company located within the Southeastern United States. Results of the study revealed a strong correlation between subordinate perception of all five leadership practices measured by the LPI and the level of organizational commitment within subordinates. Byrne (1998) used the LPI in conjunction with the OCQ in a study that investigated employee leadership perceptions and their relationship to organizational commitment within the context of leadership succession in family owned businesses.
Lowe (2000) used the LPI in conjunction with the OCQ in a study that examined the relationship between perceived leadership practices of fire officers and the organizational commitment of firefighters serving within a municipal Southeastern U.S. fire department. Results of the study revealed a strong positive relationship between all five of the perceived leadership practices measured by the LPI and the organizational commitment levels of fire service personnel. Chiok Foong Loke (2001) used the LPI in a study that examined the influence of leadership practices upon job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and productivity within a sample of 100 registered nurses and 20 managers serving in an acute care hospital in Singapore. Results of the study revealed that manager use of leadership practices and employee outcomes in job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and productivity were significantly correlated. McKey (2002) used the LPI in conjunction with the OCQ in a study that examined the self perceptions of leadership practices and organizational commitment of 133 chief nursing officers in Ontario, Canada as these factors pertain to conditions of work effectiveness in restructured hospitals. Results of the study revealed a strong positive correlational relationship between self-perceptions of leadership practices and work effectiveness.
Stonestreet (2002) used the LPI in conjunction with the OCQ in a study that examined the relationship between perceived leadership practices and employee organizational commitment in the North American automobile industry. Results of the study indicated a statistically significant direct correlation between leadership practices and employee organizational commitment. The results of the study also indicated that the female respondents who participated in the study had higher levels of organizational commitment than the male respondents involved in the study.
Cheng (2003) used a modified version of the LPI in a study that examined the relationships between leadership behavior, organizational commitment, and job satisfaction in a sample of 469 non-management employees from 30 health club branches in Taiwan. Results of the study revealed that both organizational commitment and leadership behavior directly influence job satisfaction. Metscher (2005) used the LPI in conjunction with the OCQ in a study that examined the relationship between the perceived leadership practices and the organizational commitment of subordinates within the U.S. Air Force. Results of the study indicated a statistically significant positive correlation between the perceived leadership practices of supervisors and the organizational commitment of subordinates.
Leadership Behavior and Organizational Climate
A significant amount of previous research has also examined the relationship between leadership behavior and organizational climate. Leonard (1981) investigated the relationship between self-reported and teacher-perceived school principal leadership behavior and school organizational climate in a study involving 118 teachers and 6 principals from 11 elementary schools. Results of the study revealed a significant relationship between teacher perceptions of school principal leadership and school organizational climate. Broadbent (1984) examined the relationship between school administrator leadership behavior and school organizational climate in a study involving 768 deans, faculty, staff, and students from several campuses of Pennsylvania State University. Results of the study revealed a strong positive relationship between the leadership behavior of consideration and school organizational climate. Vrable (1985) examined the relationship between school principal leadership characteristics and school organizational climate in a study involving 43 randomly selected elementary schools located in northeastern Ohio. Results of the study suggested a relationship between school principal leadership behavior and school organizational climate. Emery (1986) examined the relationship between school principal leadership behavior and school organizational climate in a study involving 68 high schools located in New Jersey. Results of the study revealed that school principal locus of control was significantly related to school organizational climate.
Olson (1988) examined the relationship between organizational leadership and the development and maintenance of school organizational climate in a study involving faculty and administration from a community college in Texas. Results of the study revealed a strong relationship between positive leadership behaviors and positive organizational climate. Scott (1988) examined the relationship between teacher perceptions of school principal leadership behavior and organizational climate in a study involving 223 teachers from 11 private secondary schools in Hawaii. Results of the study revealed significant positive relationships between school principal leadership behaviors and the organizational climate dimensions of spirit, thrust, and consideration. Results of the study also revealed significant negative relationships between the principals’ leadership behaviors and the organizational climate dimensions of disengagement and hindrance. Wacker (1989) examined the influence of district director leadership behavior upon school organizational climate in a study involving 264 school administrators. Results of the study revealed that the district director leadership behaviors of consideration, structure, and tolerance of freedom all explained significant amounts of variance in school organizational climate. Stewart (1991) conducted a qualitative study that explored the relationships among leadership behavior, organizational climate, and organizational culture within a community college setting. Results of the study revealed a strong correlation between leadership behavior and school organizational climate.
Stillwell (1998) investigated the relationship between organizational climate and leadership behavior in a study involving 505 faculty members of community colleges located in Texas. Results of the study revealed significant relationships between leadership behavior and organizational climate. Hardy (1999) investigated the relationship between leadership style and organizational climate in a study involving 115 employees of a college located in South Carolina. Results of the study revealed a strong positive linear relationship between leadership style and organizational climate.
Koene et al. (2002) investigated the influence of store manager leadership style upon store organizational climate and store organizational performance in a study involving 2,156 employees from 50 supermarket stores located in the Netherlands. Results of the study revealed a strong relationship between store manager leadership style and both store organizational climate and performance with charismatic leadership and consideration having very significant effects upon the climate and financial performance of smaller stores.
Biller (1994) examined the relationship between visionary leadership and organizational climate in a study involving 410 employees from 26 elementary schools and 111 employees from 24 manufacturing corporations. Results of the study revealed that leaders from both types of organizations who scored high in their self-ratings of the area of visionary leadership also scored high on their self ratings of the organizational climate in which they led.
Nelon (1988) examined the relationship between school principal leadership behavior and teacher-perceived school organizational climate. Results of the study revealed a close and significant relationship between teacher perceptions of school principal leadership behavior and teacher perceptions of organizational climate.
Onyeri (1988) examined the relationship between school principal leadership style and teacher-perceived organizational climate in a study involving 250 teachers in a school district located in Texas. Results of the study suggested that teacher perceptions of school principal leadership style were positively and significantly related to teacher perceptions of school organizational climate. Wright (1988) examined the relationship between teacher perceptions of school principal leadership behavior and teacher perceptions of school organizational climate in a study involving 716 teachers from elementary schools located in Wyoming. Results of the study revealed that school principals who supported teachers, emphasized achievement, and provided an orderly school atmosphere consistently scored higher on teacher perceptions of school organizational climate than school principals who did not engage in those leadership behaviors.
Influence of Organizational Climate Upon Leadership Behavior
Craig (1979) examined the influence of school organizational climate and school principal leadership behavior upon teacher job satisfaction in a study involving 271 teachers from 21 schools within two suburban school districts in the Dallas metro area. Results of the study revealed that the leadership behaviors of consideration and initiating structure were influenced by school organizational climate and that teacher job satisfaction was also influenced by school organizational climate. Fisher (1988) explored the concept of equal opportunity climate in a study involving 79 students at the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute located at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida. Results of the study revealed a significant correlation between equal opportunity climate and job satisfaction. Results of the study also revealed a significant correlation between organizational commitment and organizational climate.
Helford (1995) examined the relationship between psychological climate and organizational commitment in a study involving 750 employees of office supply companies. Results of the study revealed that psychological climate accounted for a significant percentage of variance of both affective commitment and continuance commitment.
Carlson (2005) investigated the influence of ethical work climate, perceived leader integrity, and perceived organizational support upon the affective commitment of 270 employees from a wide variety of organizations. Results of the study confirmed that ethical work climate, perceived leader integrity, and perceived organizational support all strongly influence employee affective commitment.
Church Management Team
The church management team (sometimes referred to as the church staff or paid pastoral staff) is a group of professional pastors who function in various fields of ministry responsibility (Judy, 1969). This group usually includes a senior pastor and, at least, two associate pastors (Mitchell, 1966). In this study, the senior pastor is an individual with nominal authority in the daily functions (i.e., preaching, offering pastoral care, and visiting the sick) and long-term vision of the local congregation (Sweet, 1963; Westing, 1997). Conversely, the term associate pastor refers to the individual responsible for specific ministry tasks other than those being completed by the senior pastor. Importantly, however, congregants frequently consider the primary role of the associate pastor as one of assisting the senior pastor in accomplishing his or her tasks, regardless of the skills or desires of those individuals (Hindman, 1984). Therefore, it is necessary to identify the effect that shared leadership, empowering team behaviors, and horizontal team structure exerts on work outcomes of members on church management teams.
The church leadership team, also known as the “pastoral staff” or “multiple staff ministry team” (Schaller, 1980), consists of professional pastors (e.g., at least three or more) who demonstrate competence in at least one specific area of ministry expertise. These pastors seek to blend that expertise with the skills of other pastors so that the team is able to better serve the local congregation (Judy, 1969; Mitchell, 1966). The Context and Purpose of Church Leadership Teams
The number of church leadership teams is increasing within American Christianity (Lawson, 2000; Westing, 1997). The reasons for this increase vary, depending upon the local church situation. For example, church leadership teams form in response to the belief that a single pastor is not capable of meeting every need within a growing congregation (Westing). As church attendance increases numerically, the personal resource and span of influence provided by a single pastor diminishes. Pastors on church leadership teams agree to share general ministry duties (i.e., public speaking, presiding at official events, offering physical aid, and providing spiritual guidance) while also leading specific areas of ministry responsibility (i.e., youth ministry, music ministry, Christian education, etc.) (Anderson, 1985; Strumpfer & Bands, 1996). Consequently, a church possessing a leadership team consisting of multiple, qualified pastors appear more apt than lone pastors to serve congregations that are increasing numerically. A second reason for the increased use of church leadership teams is the increasing congregational demand for broad-based religious programming. As a “consumer” mentality exerts increasing sway over church attendees, leadership teams face the pressure to provide programming that is excellent, broad in appeal, and designed to meet the wants of a diverse group of individuals (Strobel, 1993). A failure of the pastoral team to provide this programming may lead constituents to seek out other congregations that they feel better meet these expectations. These consumer-driven elements are requiring churches to hire clergy with broad pastoral training as well as expertise in at least one specific area of ministry (i.e., youth ministry, Christian education, music ministry, children’s ministry, family ministry, counseling, and administration) (Blizzard, 1956a; Lawson, 2000; Westing, 1997). This practice, in turn, joins ministry professionals together in teams so that they are able to address a wide range of needs within these local congregations.
A number of issues exist that affect the nature of church leadership teams and, in turn, affect the responses and outcomes of the pastors participating on those teams. One issue that influences the nature of church leadership teams is the leadership approach used among pastoral team members. Church leadership teams organize and function in ways that include (a) the master-apprentice model, (b) the delegation model, and (c) the co-pastorate model (Schaller, 1980).
The master-apprentice model is an authoritarian system where the senior pastor functions as the master and the associate pastor or pastors function as apprentices (Schaller, 1980). The primary task of the associate pastors is to learn from the senior pastor, develop characteristics (both personally and vocationally) similar to the senior pastor, and support the senior pastor by whatever means possible. This management model establishes the senior pastor as the expert in the field of ministry as well as the team member most capable of fulfilling the ministry needs of the congregation (Judy, 1969). There is typically minimal discussion of and deviation from the desires of the senior pastor in this team model.
The delegation model refers to a ministry approach where the senior pastor delegates responsibility and authority to other pastors on the management staff, although these other pastors are considered equal members in the ministry (Schaller, 1980). Associate pastors respond to the senior minister as the final source of authority, but rely primarily on job descriptions as the guide to task fulfillment. Furthermore, the senior pastor assigns members of the church leadership team to committees. Those members, in turn, present the desires and interests of those committees to the senior pastor. Consequently, associate pastors on the leadership team retain a level of self-direction, but the degree of that autonomy depends on the permissiveness of the senior pastor. The co-pastorate model of ministry refers to a team approach where each pastor exercises the authority of a lead pastor (when appropriate situations arise) (Schaller, 1980). This team approach encourages each pastor to function in a self-led manner on the church team. Judy (1969) stated that such teams evolve into a self-governed group in which all members of the team voice their opinion concerning a final decision. Members of the team may appoint a lead pastor to serve as a coordinator of job tasks, but each pastor views that member as a peer serving on the leadership team.
The nature of these leadership models suggests that pastors experience and even prefer different models of leadership within their team. For example, one pastor may function more effectively within and prefer a master-apprentice model, while a different pastor may function more effectively in and prefer a delegation or co-pastorate model. Similarly, the actions of pastors will likely be consistent with the characteristics of each model. For example, a pastor preferring the master-apprentice model of leadership expects to receive instruction, monitoring, and evaluation by another pastor. Conversely, a pastor preferring the co-pastorate model of leadership anticipates participating in decision-making, strategic-planning, and mutual accountability with other pastors. The differences in these models are not likely to be significant unless these pastors, expecting different leadership models, serve on the same management team. If these individuals serve on the same team, however, the potential for conflict is obvious. The pastor preferring a co-pastorate model may appear insubordinate if he or she continually questions the actions of the pastor expecting to operate according to a master-apprentice model. Similarly, the pastor preferring the master-apprentice model is likely to frustrate the pastor preferring the co-pastor model by giving instructions and monitoring the actions to that person.
Dynamics exist that affect the nature of the church leadership team. The addition of vocational pastors to an already-existing leadership team is one contributing influence to the behaviors of its members. An increase in professional staff frequently leads to complexity in the lines of authority and task issues addressed by ministry teams (Westing, 1997). This complexity, in turn, increases the potential for misunderstandings regarding pastoral titles, a shift in the vocational responsibilities filled by each pastor, and ultimately, the conflict among personnel (Westing; Sweet, 1963). Additions to a pastoral team are also able to affect team composition. A pastor joining a leadership team may alter the composition of a team in terms of age, race, and gender. For example, if a younger pastor joins an already-existing team that is significantly older in the composite number of years served in ministry, certain members might reject the new member on the basis of his or her perceived lack of experience. Ethnicity background of a new pastor is also likely to influence the interaction of an already-existing team. As differences in cultural values and norms arise, members may experience conflict with one another until both the existing team and the new pastor identify the norms of the other. These assertions are consistent with the previous research on team heterogeneity. For example, Milliken and Marins (1996) suggested that skill-based diversity among team members require greater coordination costs. Similarly, diversity in culture and tenure correlates negatively with social integration and positively with job turnover. Conversely, they determined that heterogeneity positively influences quality decision-making capacities. These issues are important because heterogeneity among demographic characteristics can raise problems that make it difficult for a leader to shape a team (Reagans, Zuckerman, & McEvily, 2004). Consequently, appropriate investigation of church leadership teams requires control for elements of diversity among team personnel. Adding personnel to an already-existing team also influence issues related to team tenure. For example, identifying specific task responsibilities is an issue for members of leadership teams. A pastor accustomed to accomplishing certain ministry tasks may experience frustration when a new pastor joins the team and begins filling those roles. Another issue affected by team tenure is familiarity. For example, individuals who have worked together for several years may experience a familiarity with one another so that they are able to anticipate the response of the other pastors on the team to a specific situation. The ability to anticipate the reactions of newer members on the pastoral team will likely develop with experience rather than occurring immediately. Changes in team composition and team tenure, thus, may affect the nature of church leadership teams.
Another dynamic that influences the nature of church leadership teams and the pastors who serve on them involves the levels of stress and satisfaction that individual members experience in their work. For example, Fichter’s research (1984) acknowledged that pastors feel overburdened with their work. Furthermore, researchers discovered that overwork, time demands, and an overload of parishioner care significantly intensified the perceptions of stress among pastors (Hoge & Shields, 1993; Strumpfer & Bands, 1996). Consequently, pastors feeling overwhelmed with their responsibilities may disengage from fulfilling their tasks or may seek help from other pastors on their leadership team. If pastors believe they are able to ask and receive help in their workload, they may experience less stress and greater satisfaction in the job.
Similarly, some pastors experience role conflict and role ambiguity while serving on a pastoral staff because of the quantity and complexity of the roles they fill (Mills, 1968; VanVoorst, 1993). An abridged list of roles that others may expect pastors to fill includes: scholar, evangelist, liturgist, father-shepherd, interpersonal relations specialist, parish promoter, community problem solver, educator, subculture specialist, representative for the universal Church, lay minister, church politician, counselor, ruler, judicial authority, administrator, organizer, preacher, priest, interpreter of the events of life, and custodian of the values passed through Western Civilization (Blizzard, 1958; Hoge et al., 1981). It is unlikely that any single pastor will be capable of effectively balancing the practice of each role. Likewise, pastors may lack discernment regarding which roles deserve a greater investment of their time and energy as they integrate with their leadership team and local congregation.
The pastor may experience ambiguity not only because of an increase in the number of roles he or she is expected to fill, but also because these roles are able to be competing in nature (Blizzard, 1958; Macquarrie, 1976). For example, Macquarrie identified three primary functions of a pastor: serving functions, proclamation functions, and priestly functions. Serving functions include activities that endeavor to help the underprivileged in society. Proclamation functions involve the presentation of speeches to those both inside and outside the local church. Priestly functions include activities associated with the sacramental nature of Christian ministry (e.g., baptism and the Eucharist). Conflict arises as pastors emphasize one of these roles to the exclusion or detriment of the other roles. Likewise, conflict arises if a pastor competitively promotes or overlaps his or her chosen roles into the roles of other pastors on the leadership team (Judy, 1969; Lawson, 2000; Schaller, 1980; Sweet, 1963).
Perceived job stress and job satisfaction also influences the pastor and the nature of the church leadership team. As previously noted, research indicates that an increased sense of role overload, role conflict, and role ambiguity correlates directly with job stress. Consequently, a pastor experiencing an increase in the factors leading to role stress (i.e., overload, conflict, ambiguity) is likely to feel a greater extent of job stress and a reduced perception of job satisfaction. Conversely, pastors feeling a greater sense of autonomy and social support in certain leadership models may experience reduced stress and greater satisfaction. For example, a pastor experiencing a leadership approach similar to the co-pastorate model within his or her team is capable of sensing greater support and freedom.
These feelings, in turn, cause the pastors to sense reduced stress and greater satisfaction. Conversely, pastors experiencing a leadership approach similar to the master-apprentice model are likely to experience more control from others; thus, they will experience reduced support and freedom. These feelings, in turn, will result in a greater sense of stress and reduced satisfaction. pastorate model within his or her team is capable of sensing greater support and freedom.
These feelings, in turn, cause the pastors to sense reduced stress and greater satisfaction. Conversely, pastors experiencing a leadership approach similar to the master-apprentice model are likely to experience more control from others; thus, they will experience reduced support and freedom. These feelings, in turn, will result in a greater sense of stress and reduced satisfaction.
Today’s clergy face an increasing expectation of excellence from the local church and civil communities as well as the developing complexity of leadership approaches that occur within the church leadership team. They must deal with fluid leadership models as well as with the outcome realities that are common to most employees. Furthermore, although pastors must address issues at the congregational level, a segment of church pastors must also deal with issues connected to regional and national denominational bodies. Consequently, these pastors must tackle concerns on the micro-level, meso-level, and macro-level of church leadership.
These issues are significant because single pastors are decreasingly able to “be all things to all people.” While church leadership teams may assist pastors in accomplishing complex and diverse ministry tasks, it has remained unclear what effect these teams have on the perceived job outcomes of their members. Consequently, this study sought to determine whether shared leadership or one of its integral dimensions influences the stress and satisfaction levels of members of church leadership teams.
Behaviors experienced within a team constitute one dimension that contributes to the perception of shared leadership. A second dimension contributing to the perception of shared leadership involves the systematic structure of authority that exists among members of a team. This system of authority involves structure that is more vertical or more horizontal in form (Pearce & Sims, 2002). These two forms operate as the ends of a structural continuum. In a structure that is more vertical in nature, a hierarchy exists where an appointed leader serves as the primary source of instruction, oversight, and control for others (Houghton et al., 2003). Traditionally, these leaders project influence in a downward, one-to-many fashion (Yukl, 2001). In a more horizontal structure, however, there is a greater diffusion of influence, guidance, and instruction among members throughout the team. A team with such a structure promotes relational authority in which team members collectively influence one another rather than promote a structure emphasizing a single, assigned leader (Cox, Pearce, & Perry, 2003). Similar to the behaviors experienced within a team, members working within a team structure that is more horizontal in nature will likely experience a greater extent of shared leadership. One reason for this assertion is that members sensing a leveling of the authority structure experience greater freedom to voice their opinion or vocalize their dissent if they feel that their team demonstrates weaknesses in its operation. Furthermore, a less hierarchical authority structure enhances the support felt and help requested by team members. Rather than seeking the advice or consent of an assigned leader, the individual member is able to address problematic issues personally (if he or she possesses the expertise and resources). If members in a less hierarchical structure do not possess the needed expertise or resources to address a problem, then they are able to receive assistance from those individuals who do possess such skills and resources. Consequently, it is also likely, when appropriate, that team members expect and seek out support from other members. As such, this study also investigates the relationship existing between team structure (i.e., structure that is more horizontal or more vertical in nature) and perceived work outcomes by its members.
Theory and empirical research indicates that some teams experience a structure that is more horizontal in nature. Researchers affirm that this framework emphasizes a lateral relationship of leadership among fellow team members (Pearce & Conger, 2003b; Pearce & Sims, 2000). This tenet matches the conceptualization of shared leadership acknowledging that fellow members actively guide and instruct one another toward the achievement of group goals (Cox, Pearce, & Sims, 2003; Pearce & Conger, 2003a). It appears, then, that the structure of authority on a team is capable of being more complex than a formal hierarchy. Structure that is more lateral in nature promotes guidance and instruction that flows (a) from an appointed leader to a subordinate member, (b) from one team member to another, and (c) from a team member to an appointed leader (Cox et al.). Although a positional leader may exist in a team that is structured more horizontally, other members on the team consider this leader as a peer rather than a person of significant control and authority.
The significance of a mutual influence within a team structure is important when considering the participation of diversely-trained members serving on the same team. For example, if highly skilled team members feel the freedom to cross structural team boundaries, then they are able to more adequately contribute to problem-solving when the team experiences significant need. Because members are more than mindless cogs completing tasks within a hierarchical structure, these members act as participants in a highly-functional team (Klenke, 1997). They seek out and expect to receive information pertinent to the team in general and to their roles in particular. A leveling of the organizing structure, therefore, builds a sense that each individual is responsible for the overall success of the team (Porter-O’Grady & Wilson, 1995). Rather than receiving permission (from an individual higher up in a vertical team structure) to make a decision or execute a task, each member feels capable to do what is needed. Furthermore, because team members ascribe value to increased expertise, as opposed to positional power, each member functions as the leader when pursuing particular endeavors. This reality allows members to provide significant, proactive contributions to the team regardless of their pre-assigned roles.
Another result of a team using a flatter structure is the removal of well-established lines of communication and reporting for participating members (Perrewe, Ferris, Frink, & Anthony, 2000). Functioning in a team where structure is more horizontal in nature means that members become increasingly responsible for the choices they make and the actions they exhibit. Because the role of the leader diminishes in this type of structure, each member must increase his or her sense of ownership for tasks that the team must complete. Rather than waiting for instruction or permission to respond to a need, the member in a more level team structure must identify and personally address the need. If this strategy is not implemented (e.g., each member waits for other members to respond to a need or react to a situation), then it is likely that the task will remain undone. This fact negatively influences the team and its members.
Another consequence for members on teams that use a structure that is more horizontal in nature is the potential for those members to feel as though they have more than one boss. For example, Barker and Tompkins (1994) discerned that members receiving instruction from multiple members were likely to feel as though they were in “an iron cage” (p. 414). Essentially, in a more level team structure, the capacity for a stronger sense of peer pressure exists. If team member A is held personally responsible for the achievement of job tasks related to the team, and there is no identifiable source of control for the team as a whole, it is reasonable to anticipate that this member will enforce a certain level of task involvement for team members B, C, and so on. Otherwise, the overall function of the team falters and each member has to endure the consequences. Therefore, if one member fails to provide a certain job skill or achieve a certain level of goal attainment, multiple members may identify this reality and respond with an increased degree of criticism and stringent expectation for the future.
While teams are capable of using a structure that is more horizontal in nature, research indicates that teams also experience structure that is more vertical in nature. Teams with a structure that is more vertical in nature will likely have one or more appointed individuals at the top of some sort of hierarchy. The individuals in the higher levels of this hierarchy usually serve as the source of control and oversight for others on the team (Bass, 1990; Houghton et al., 2003; Yukl, 2001). Correspondingly, the appointed leader in the vertical team structure delegates specific tasks to other members. Essentially, the leader oversees the activities of the group and the group executes the desires of this leader.
Certain research and theory development on leadership emphasizes the importance of a single leader overseeing and directing a group of followers (Yukl, 2001). Northouse (2001) defined the concept of leadership as “a process whereby one individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal” (p. 3). Researchers identified this leader-to-follower direction of influence as “heroic” (Yukl) or “vertical” (Pearce, 1997) in nature. This direction of influence frequently occurs as an appointed member of a team, the positional leader, leads task-fulfilling subordinates through a hierarchical system. In a structure that is more vertical in nature, the individual at the top of the hierarchy is the focal point of instruction as well as the primary source of influence for others.
Because of the leader’s position in the vertical structure, this individual has access to information unavailable to, and exercises control over, members lower in the system of hierarchy (Hatch, 1997). This systemic element is a positive element for teams that use a structure that is more vertical in nature. Instead of relying on multiple individuals to evaluate information and reach a consensus concerning a decision, the leader at the top of a hierarchy is able to make decisions more quickly and supply information at his or her discretion. One result of this reduced access and greater external control is, however, a reinforcement that this positional leader is a mystical individual who is wiser, more courageous, better informed, and more capable of helping the team accomplish its goals (Yukl, 2001). Because of this perception, it is likely that the leader at the top of the vertical structure will influence team performance and production by swaying the beliefs and behaviors of others (Cox, Pearce, & Perry, 2003). This may be one reason that the general emphasis of earlier leadership and management research is on leadership styles that flow from the leader to the followers.
While vertical structure provides benefits to members of a team, it also creates challenges for assigned leaders and members of the team. For instance, a leader at the top of a team hierarchy may lack the skills to adequately lead its remaining members. Conger and Pearce (2003) contended that positional leaders would likely demonstrate competency in certain task areas, but exhibit weaknesses in other areas of need. Consequently, the abilities of an assigned leader will not always match the needs of a team or an environmental situation that may impede the achievement of group goals. Furthermore, the abilities and energy of highly skilled team members that are lower in the hierarchical structure may go unused.
This issue creates a potential dilemma for both a leader and the team. The leader may not be capable of providing the necessary guidance for others on the team. Consequently, members of the team feel betrayed, underused, and begin to distrust the leader of the hierarchy as well as the benefits of the structure itself. Preventing such responses from individuals within a more vertical structure is difficult, however, because stakeholders commonly consider the assigned leader as the individual ultimately responsible for the success of the team. Likewise, in more vertical structures, stakeholders often consider the choices made by the focal leader as the important decisions. Consequently, the contribution of team members is important to the function of the team, but the oversight and opinion of the assigned leader is the final authority for members of the team.
Studying the outcomes of role overload, role conflict, role ambiguity, job stress, and job satisfaction is important because shared leadership and its dimensions are able to significantly affect these outcomes in desirable and undesirable ways. These outcomes, in turn, are able to exert a profound effect on the lives of individuals. For example, research among professionals indicates that role stresses correlate with an increase in the perceptions of overwork (Hindman, 1984; Morris & Blanton, 1994b; Rayburn, Richmond, & Rogers, 1986), job stress (Dunseath, Beehr, & King, 1995; Pattanayak, 2002), chronic stress or burnout (Cordes & Dougherty, 1993; Evers & Tomic, 2003; Sethi, Barrier, & King, 1999; Starnaman & Miller, 1992) and with decreases in commitment (Hoge & Shields, 1993), personal relaxation (Gross, 1989), and job satisfaction (Brown & Peterson, 1993; Jackson & Schuler, 1985). In turn, research suggests that general feelings of stress correlate directly with anger (Schmidt, 1998), a perceived inability to handle assigned projects (Rayburn, Richmond, & Rogers, 1988), self-imposed isolation from others (Gross, 1989), sexual infidelity (Seat et al., 1993), personal exhaustion (Strumpfer & Bands, 1996), family dysfunction (Morris & Blanton, 1994b), a lack of vocational commitment (Hoge & Shields, 1993), and job turnover (Nelsen & Everett, 1976). Consequently, an increase in role stress and job stress presents significant challenges for team members and their participation in leadership teams.
Role overload refers to a workload that is too heavy for the time constraints or skill competencies of team members (Bass, 1990; Strumpfer & Bands, 1996). Investigating this outcome is important because previous research suggests that workers perceiving a greater extent of role overload experience increased stress while members perceiving a reduced extent of overload experience decreased feelings of stress (deRijk, LeBlanc, Schaufeli, & Jonge, 1998; Hoge & Shields, 1993).
Role overload appears to correlate with the quantity of hours required to perform job tasks. The meta-analysis of Sparks, Cooper, Fried, and Shirom (1997) indicated that a “small, but significant” connection exists between the number of hours an individual works in a week and the increased potential for negative health (p. 399). This finding may be distressing for workers since American employees seem to be working “harder, longer, and more diligently than ever before” (Babbar & Aspelin, 1998, p. 68; Schor, 1992). Furthermore, Babbar and Aspelin contended that individuals working a significant numbers of hours experience not only poorer physical health, but also disrupted relationships outside of work, poorer concentration, and impaired decision-making. These issues are a likely reason that Cherniss (1980) suggested that the long-term consequences of consistently working long hours are detrimental to professionals, coworkers, and organizations.
A sense of autonomy is also able to decrease the perception of role overload by members of teams. Sparks et al. (1997) determined that an ability to exert personal choice regarding the tasks one performs moderated the negative relationship between working long hours at the job site and health concerns of the worker. This helps to explain why Chay (1993) determined that organizational self-starters were able to work longer hours without suffering the negative psychological effects that their corporate counterparts experienced. Chay surmised that job autonomy offsets the negative aspects of having to work long hours with heavy demands. Consequently, autonomy appears able to moderate feelings of role overload. A lack of autonomy regarding job load, conversely, may significantly increase stress when that load involves time issues.
For example, research suggests that workers receiving unexpected amounts of additional work through coercive means (i.e., forced overtime) increased worker stress (Babbar & Aspelin, 1998; Sparks et al., 1997). When individuals feel trapped and powerless to change imposed time constraints at work, they become overwhelmed more quickly than those individuals who are able to exercise such freedom (Laabs, 1999). Taylor and Bain (1999) discovered this truth when researching telephone solicitation centers in the United Kingdom. They affirmed that personnel forced to work long hours with high commitment and intense concentration experienced severe physical and psychological strain.
Role conflict refers to the response that workers feel when they experience (a) a discord between their values and expectations and the tasks related to the job environment, (b) two or more conflicting roles at the same time, or (c) an inadequate amount of resources required for completing a task (Bass, 1990; Cordes & Dougherty, 1993; Kay, 2000; Wolverton et al., 1999).
Research indicates that organizational and team dynamics exist that increase the sense of role conflict among group members. One team element that is able to influence the perception of role conflict is the complexity of roles experienced by its members (Mills, 1968; VanVoorst, 1993). Members on certain teams face the dilemma of accepting or having a supervisor assign tasks and roles that actually conflict with one another (Blizzard, 1956a, 1956b). This action results in discontinuity between the desires of the team member and the expectations of the team. For example, individuals may work on teams that provide for the physical and emotional needs of their clientele. A team member may discover that he or she is responsible for personal contact with clients as well as maintaining paperwork on those individuals. If a team member enjoys a greater degree of contact with clients as opposed to filing papers, this team member may neglect his or her administrative responsibilities. A lack of attention to the administrative elements of the role, however, is able to reduce the team’s ability to achieve its goals as well as exert a minimizing effect on the quality of care a client receives. The feeling of being torn between what one wishes to do in a job and the realities of what the job requires increase the perception of role conflict felt by members.
Another factor able to influence the feeling of role conflict experienced by members is the clashing of tasks filled by work groups consisting of more than one individual. Whereas a solo practitioner generally experiences minimal role conflict (because task fulfillment does not intersect with the activities of others), individuals working together need to realize that certain tasks will occasionally overlap with the responsibilities of others. For example, role conflict may develop among team members as additional personnel join the team (Burns, 1995). This conflict occurs as these individuals alter their current roles and responsibilities within that team. The sense of role conflict may increase as the number of members increase (because of a greater opportunity for task overlap) or as newer members join the team (because of a required period of task identification and role adjustment).
Role ambiguity refers to a lack of certainty and predictability in work requirements (Cordes & Dougherty, 1993; Wolverton et al., 1999). A worker perceiving role ambiguity usually suffers from a lack of clarity concerning job tasks and organizational goals (Bass, 1990). This lack of clarity increases the sense of stress and decreases the feelings of satisfaction experienced by workers (Fields, 2002). Research suggests that the quantity of roles a team member fulfills influences the sense of role ambiguity experienced by others (Blizzard, 1956b). For example, an employee working alone may fill fewer roles in his or her job and the expectations and procedures of those roles are clearer because they are fewer in number. Conversely, members working in teams may fill a greater number of roles for their clientele and those members may experience reduced clarity because of a greater number of roles that others expect them to fulfill. In a positive sense, however, a greater number of team members may reduce the perception of role stress because a greater number of participants reduce the quantity of roles each member must fill. Another factor that influences the perception of role ambiguity is the degree of fluidity in the roles filled by team members (Blizzard, 1958). For example, teams that have broad job descriptions for each member are capable of creating a heightened sense of ambiguity in the role each member fills. Members that lack clear instructions regarding the responsibility for and procedure of filling each role likely sense an increase in ambiguity. This response, in turn, increases the potential for conflict with other members.
Job stress is the psychological response of a worker to the demands of his or her work (Fields, 2002). Commenting on the model of Karasek, Fields noted that the health and well-being of employees declines when demands are high and control is low. Furthermore, he determined that a lack of control regarding job tasks increases the job stress experienced by individuals. This outcome is important because previous research suggests that job stress correlates positively with chronic stress and burnout and negatively with job commitment and work satisfaction (Capner & Caltabiano, 1993; Clarke & Goetz, 1996; Fields, 2002; Jamal, 1997; Lee & Ashforth, 1993; Sutherland & Cooper, 1992).
Certain work dynamics are able to affect job stress within a team. Workers may perceive job stress when they lack control over issues of their job that directly affect them. For example, Sonnentag, Brodbeck, Heinbokel, and Stolte (1994) indicated that workers experience increased frustration and decreased excitement when superiors handed down responsibilities without seeking input from those closest to the situation. Similar issues may arise when a superior possesses the power to assign responsibilities, but lacks awareness regarding how that assignment will affect the worker, the team, and the overall goals of the team. Consequently, team members may experience frustration as they attempt to complete a task assigned by a vertical leader, but lack a voice in determining those tasks.
Another type of stress includes an over-engagement in activities that exceed the abilities and energies of that leader (Gross, 1989). Gross determined that organizational professionals desire to meet the expectations that coincide with their job. A team member that lacks the time or energy to align his or her skills with the abilities of others, due to an over-engagement of activities, experiences a significant increase in his or her perception of stress.
Role conflict and role ambiguity also influence the perception of job stress experienced by team members (Dunseath et al., 1995; Pattanayak, 2002). As previously noted, researchers determined that increased perceptions of role conflict or role ambiguity eventually increased the perceptions of stress and burnout among workers (Cordes & Dougherty, 1993; Sethi et al., 1999; Starnaman & Miller, 1992). Furthermore, when workers perceive these stress elements at the same time in a job situation, they experience an intensification of the negative influence of these constructs (Fields, 2002). Consequently, if a team member experiences an unrelenting sense of role conflict and role ambiguity, these stresses are able to create doubts concerning the fit of that individual in that specific team.
Job satisfaction refers to the response of a worker to actual outcomes that closely match desired outcomes (Fields, 2002). Fields’ review of work satisfaction noted that workers experience varying levels of satisfaction depending upon their job role, the environment in which they work, and the disposition they hold about life and the job itself.
An important antecedent to job satisfaction in team members appears to be their perceived level of autonomy in determining their roles and tasks within the team (Fields, 2002). For example, Koval and Mills (1971) indicated that the issue of authority was a primary contributor to perceptions of stress for certain professionals, especially those working in helping professions. If members perceive that they work with an authority figure that does not fully grasp the issues most pertinent to their individual tasks, they experience frustration, stress, and dissatisfaction when that leader exerts a greater extent of control over their job choices. Consequently, it is reasonable to deduce that the ability to exert some degree of autonomy regarding issues that are relevant to the work one performs likely increases one’s sense of satisfaction. Conversely, a strong sense of control from an outside source over the tasks and decisions of the team members may lower the sense of satisfaction that those individuals feel.
Another antecedent that influences the perception of satisfaction in workers is the presence of significant social support (Goetz, 1997; McDuff, 2001). McDuff discerned that professionals experienced an increased capability of enduring jobs that paid less money and promoted less frequently when they sensed a greater degree of social support from others. The subjective rewards experienced from growing and meaningful personal relationships offset the minimizing effect of potentially inequitable situations. In other words, some professionals seem to consider social support at least as important as promotion and remuneration for services.
A related issue involves the perceived level of support professionals receive from those that they deem important. Goetz (1997) stated that spousal support elicits significant influence on the perceptions of satisfaction by a team member. This finding coincides with the research of Rogers and May (2003) that discovered there is a spillover effect between marital satisfaction and job satisfaction. In other words, there appears to be a relationship between the satisfaction one feels within his or her marriage and the satisfaction one feels in their job situation. Consequently, it appears that workers perceiving a greater extent of social support are likely to feel increased job satisfaction and workers perceiving a lesser extent of social support (at least from spouses) feel less job satisfaction.
A noteworthy element of this discussion involves acknowledging that role ambiguity, role conflict, and role overload frequently correlate in a negative manner with job satisfaction (Brown & Peterson, 1993; Cordes & Dougherty, 1993). Thus, if an individual participates in a leadership team that lacks role clarity (e.g., role ambiguity), that individual’s job satisfaction is likely to be lower than the job satisfaction for individuals who serve on teams with strong role clarity. Furthermore, Hoge, Shields, and Griffin (1995) discovered that a rising sense of overload by members of certain leadership teams depresses their sense of satisfaction. Consequently, members facing a significant increase in the quantity and quality of work that they must provide may experience a decrease in the satisfaction they feel toward their job.
This section reviews the potential relationships that are able to exist between the construct of shared leadership and two selected dimensions with chosen job outcomes experienced by team personnel. The first part of this section considers why such a relationship is able to exist while the second part of this section considers the relationship these constructs are able to share with each specific outcome.
Shared leadership and the dimensions of team behaviors and team structure are able to improve the outcomes experienced by pastors on church leadership teams through three primary means. For example, experiencing a greater extent of shared leadership, empowering team behaviors, and horizontal team structure is likely to affect an individual’s sense of stress and satisfaction because of the freedom he or she feels to act in a more self-led manner. Previous research indicates that an environment encouraging (through behaviors or structure) employee involvement enhances the sense of personal autonomy expressed by employees (Honold, 1997). Likewise, Manz (1992) theorized that a strong link exists between an individual’s perception of empowerment and the practice of self-leadership. An increased sense of freedom influences the participation one offers and the responsibility one takes in such activities as goal-setting and decision-making (Marshall, 1995; Shantz & Prieur, 1996). Likewise, an increased sense of freedom for team members also leads individuals to adapt their activities, tasks, and responses to the needs of others (Chebat & Kollias, 2000). Consequently, if a conflict exists between team members over their roles or tasks, individuals sensing a greater ability to function in a self-led manner adjust their actions to better integrate their work with that of others. In turn, as members perceive they have permission and encouragement to participate in these team processes, this freedom also influences the stress and satisfaction outcomes of those individuals. Lawson (2000) discovered that pastors serving on a leadership team experienced a heightened sense of motivation when they perceived a greater permission to offer input into the overall scope of the team’s ministry. Likewise, Laschinger et al. (2001) discovered that perceiving a greater sense of empowerment reduced the sense of strain and increased the sense of satisfaction perceived by nurses. As individuals experience a team environment that encourages greater participation in the completion of job tasks and roles, they may experience increased fulfillment in their work.
Conversely, research also suggests that members perceiving a lesser extent of shared leadership or its dimensions may sense a constriction in the level of personal control and self-leadership they are able to express. For instance, Cox, Pearce, and Perry (2003) determined that teams with less horizontal team structure correlated with less job control by members in new product development teams. Consequently, if an assigned leader, by virtue of his or her position, has the capacity to exert control on the direction and activities of the remaining members of the group, those members may sense less discretion regarding the job situations that directly affect them. Research indicates that such a reduced sense of control increases the perceptions of stress in individuals (Karasek, 1979). In a top-down framework, lower job control exacerbates feelings of stress while a greater perception of job control decreases feelings of stress. Barker (1993) indicated that a reduced sense of personal control led team members to feel a significant sense of restriction regarding decision-making and personal activity. Wright and Barker (2000) suggested that experiencing such controlling behavior eventually leads to a de-motivation among personnel and a feeling among members that they must act in accordance with the preference of others—regardless of their own desires. This finding suggests, therefore, that experiencing more controlling behaviors is likely to limit the perceived encouragement one feels to act in a self-led manner. Serving with a team where such a feeling exists, in turn, influences the stress and satisfaction of members of the team. For example, Hoge and Shields (1993) discovered that younger priests experienced greater frustration when they perceived excessive exertion of authority from a superior when issues involved the assignment of job tasks and decision-making. Consequently, team members sensing that a leader obstructs their ability to address issues directly influencing their success will likely experience negative work outcomes.
Experiencing a greater extent of shared leadership, empowering behaviors, and horizontal structure affects an individual’s sense of support received by and given to others. This support is important because, as Hobfoll (1989) reported, the support an individual senses from others effects the degree of stress and satisfaction he or she experiences. Previous research does indicate that horizontal structure creates a team dynamic conducive to cooperation and personal interaction (Chan, 2000; Liedtka, Whitten, & Sorrells-Jones, 1998; White, McMillen, & Baker, 2001). Team members that sense equality with others may feel encouraged to support their colleagues or to seek support from colleagues when in need of assistance. Because members function within an environment that encourages collaboration, they may feel less alone when they face difficult projects or job tasks. Likewise, members will likely be able to endure difficult situations longer if they perceive others sympathize and will stand beside them as they address their tasks (McDuff, 2001). These factors are able to significantly influence the outcomes of stress and satisfaction that members of teams perceive.
Experiencing a team environment that expresses a greater extent of shared leadership and its dimensions is likely to affect work outcomes because members are able to more readily leverage the expertise of other members. For example, a situation may arise that requires expertise unfamiliar to a majority of team members (including an assigned leader). A team that practices a greater extent of shared leadership more aptly rotates the leadership of the team to align a specific member with a specific area of needed expertise to a particular situation. Since collaboration allows for a greater transmission of important information and knowledge to a greater number of members (Finley, 1998), the need for a single member to oversee the achievement of team tasks is no longer mandatory to maintain group viability. In other words, no member is able to, nor needs to, know and do everything. This reality influences group performance and group accountability in a positive way because members experience an increased interdependence and rely on each other for success and achievement (Colbeck, Campbell, & Bjorklund, 2000). It is reasonable to conclude, then, that experiencing a greater extent of shared leadership, empowering behaviors, and horizontal structure within a team will affect perceptions of stress and satisfaction within members.
Finley (1998) noted that as members experience more empowering behaviors from the team, the diffusion of knowledge and pertinent information beyond one or two key personnel is encouraged. Consequently, one individual is not responsible for controlling or completing all the elements associated with a specific set of tasks. For example, rather than having team member A be responsible for tasks 1, 2, and 3, it is possible that the team will encourage members A, B, and C to possess the knowledge and the authority needed to complete those tasks. Sensing encouragement from others to function in a self-led manner encourages members to develop competencies in more than one task area. This approach distributes the responsibilities required to finish a project among more members of the team. Essentially, team members mutually and collectively carry the load of task completion.
Another manner in which more empowering behaviors are able to reduce the sense of role overload in team members involves the delegation of duties from one member to another. Research indicates that members sense greater overload and stress when they receive assignments, but not the authority, to effect change and completion of job tasks (Rayburn et al., 1988; Schaller, 1980; Sweet, 1963). Consequently, members that perceive the freedom to exercise the appropriate time and energy on a task may experience reduced overload because they do not sense that they are receiving tasks forced upon them.
A more horizontal team structure is also able to decrease role overload by using a structure that encourages members to cross over well-defined boundaries in an attempt to accomplish team objectives. Such an approach results in the development of a team whose members are skilled in multiple areas. The composite expertise of a team becomes greater than the unilateral expertise of one individual (Merry, 1994). In other words, there is strength in numbers—in both expertise and potential energy to complete job tasks. This fact lowers the pressure of role overload on members because the challenges faced by the team are no longer the responsibility of just one or a few individuals capable of completing specialized tasks. In a team with more horizontal structure, roles and tasks are distributed more effectively among multiple members. Conversely, there is a line of investigation indicating that experiencing a greater extent of shared leadership, empowering behaviors, or horizontal structure within a team will exacerbate the perceptions of role overload. For example, since shared leadership usually involves joining people together to set goals, make decisions, and troubleshoot problems, such an approach requires significant commitments of energy and time from members for group activities (Barnett et al., 1998; Reinelt, 1994). Perceptions of role overload depend, in part, on the competing time commitments of an individual (Palmer, 1998). Team members spending increased time on group-planning and decision-making are likely to experience increased role overload as well. The frustration of working extra hours, however, will likely pale when members experience mutual participation and support from the team in completing the task.
Research indicates that experiencing behaviors that are more empowering and structure that is more horizontal in nature, as dimensions of shared leadership, produces either adverse or advantageous effects for members. A review of the literature indicates that experiencing a greater extent of shared leadership and its dimensions increases the sense of role conflict and role ambiguity and, thus, negatively impact team members. For example, when members participate in a more empowering environment, members will inadvertently overlap in their activities and tasks with other individuals on the team and, consequently, experience confusion (Hacker & Wessel, 1998; Huxham & Vangen, 2000). Members who feel the freedom to function in a self-led manner are capable of performing activities that benefit themselves personally, but also of creating uncertainty and conflict for other members regarding the tasks and roles they fill. Consequently, team members experiencing a greater extent of shared leadership, empowering behaviors, and horizontal structure are likely to sense greater ambiguity because they must address task overlap.
In the same way, researchers suggest that confusion and conflict increase as the structure of authority becomes more horizontal (Cook et al., 1981; Floyd & Lane, 2000; Goldman & Kahnweiler, 2000; Peterson, Smith, Akande, & Ayestaran, 1995). Perrewe et al. (2000) noted that one reason for this increase is that a more level structure removes the framework through which assigned leaders previously communicated their expectations or enforced their will. A leader’s ability to make a unilateral decision, communicate that decision through the established system, and expect others to achieve those goals dramatically decreases with the leveling of team structure. Leaders within a team may discover that they are no longer capable of guiding and overseeing personnel in a manner that they believed was once appropriate. This discovery is likely to increase the role ambiguity and role conflict for those leaders.
This issue, however, also creates difficulties for the remaining members of a team. Experiencing more empowering behaviors within a team fosters the tendency of individual members to exercise their freedoms (wittingly or unwittingly) at the expense of other members. Team members may use their freedom to deviate from the shared vision and pull a power-play. Certain members may feel they are the resident experts regarding a job task or a situation facing the team and demand that others comply with their instructions. Such a response by a team member is capable of seriously damaging the social fabric of the group as well as exacerbating the perception of role conflict and role ambiguity.
This chapter provides an overview of business strategic planning practices and theory development for the effective church management. In order to elaborate the strategic planning, a broader category is first established comparing and contrasting business strategic planning practices for all nonprofit organizations including faith-based organizations. Several models of strategic planning are explored in the literature in assessing nonprofit organizations, using sources from both profit and nonprofit perspectives. Walker (2004) and Thompson and Strickland (2003) are the two sources representing profit strategic planning, with Allison and Kaye (1997) and Bryson (1995) representing the nonprofit planning practices. Malphurs (1999) is the source representing nonprofit faith-based organizations, and parallels Allison and Kaye (1997). These five models are presented side by side and then challenged using a wide array of sources in comparing the profit and nonprofit approaches.
The two profit models of Walker (2004), Thomas and Strickland (2003), and the two nonprofit models of Allison and Kaye (1997) and Bryson (1995) are well researched and documented with in-depth references and sources in strategy and strategic planning theory. The strategic planning model presented by Malphurs (1999) is primarily based on theology and anecdotal faith-based organization case studies with no references to strategy or strategic planning theories or theorists in the profit or nonprofit sectors.
The terms strategic management and strategic planning are often interchanged in the literature. Following are four definitions, two each from profit and nonprofit authors’ perspectives respectively.
Thompson and Strickland define strategic management as “the managerial process of forming a strategic vision, setting objectives, crafting a strategy, implementing and executing the strategy, and then over time initiating whatever corrective adjustments in the vision, objectives, strategy, and execution are deemed appropriate” (2003, p. 6). Walker (2004) summarizes strategic planning as the formulation of the overall strategy or direction of the organization to achieve a mission or vision, translating the results into operational terms. This includes establishing clarifying assumptions of the external and internal environment, developing guidelines to drive decision processes “especially at the level of the single business unit” (Walker, 2004, p. 259), and converting strategic thinking into action agendas with assigned responsibilities and allocation of resources.
Allison and Kaye take a similar view for nonprofit organizations; “strategic planning is a systematic process through which an organization agrees on and builds commitment among key stakeholders to priorities which are essential to its mission and responsive to the operating environment” (1997, p. 1). Bryson defines strategic planning for public and nonprofit organizations “as a disciplined effort to produce fundamental decisions and actions that shape the nature and direction of an organizations direction within legal bounds” 1988, p. 74). The definition did not change significantly seven years later when it was characterized “as a disciplined effort to produce fundamental decisions and actions that shape what an organization is, what an organization does, and why an organization does it” (Bryson, 1995, p. 4-5). Malphurs (1999) takes a very simplistic definition of strategic planning as “the process of thinking and acting” (p. 11).
On the surface the definitions are quite similar. In their respective texts, all offer (or present) more details to their definitions, and provide some variations. One distinction of Allison and Kaye is the commitment of key stakeholders to the mission. Because of the underlying funding nature of nonprofits, Allison and Kaye believe it essential to gain commitment early and often. Bryson stresses keys to success are “strategically thinking and acting” (2003, p. 7). At this point it is important to state what is not strategic planning.
According to Keller (1983, p. 140-141), strategic planning is not:
(a) a blueprint, (b) vague platitudes, (c) the personal vision of one individual or group, (d) a printed collection of department plans, (e) done by planners, (f) a focus on only which is quantifiable, (g) a capitulation to market conditions and trends, and (h) done once a year at an annual retreat.
Bryson (1995) indicates that strategic planning is “no panacea, no substitute for leadership and not an organizational strategy” (p. 9). According to Allison and Kaye, “(a) strategic planning does not predict the future or make decisions which cannot be changed; (b) is not a substitute for leadership; (c) rarely a smooth, predictable linear process” (1997, p. 6-7).
The essence of strategic planning is that it is multifaceted and situational. There is no universal definition. This paper presents comparisons between profit and nonprofit strategic planning practices. Where have strategic planning practices, carried over from the profit arena, been successful in nonprofit organizations? In general, have strategic planning practices been successful in nonprofit organizations, particularly in faith-based organizations?
One article discovered in the literature search was a synthesis of 21 empirical studies from 65 peer reviewed academic journals of nonprofit organizations, including faith-based organizations, from 1977-1999 relating to strategic planning practices and their conclusions (Stone, Bigelow, & Crittenden 1999, p. 383):
Many nonprofits have not adopted formal strategic planning. For those that do adopt formal strategic planning, primary determinants are organization size, characteristics of board and management, prior agreement on organization goals, and funder requirements to plan. Principal outcomes of formal planning are changes in organizational mission, structure, and board and management roles. The relationship between formal planning and performance is not clear but seems to be associated with growth and who participates in the process.
Katsioloudes and Tymon (2003) confirmed the work of Stone, et. al (1999) and added new findings. As a part of their evaluation, Katsioloudes and Tymon conducted a survey of executive directors of nonprofit institutions in the greater Philadelphia area on the use, participation, and effectiveness of strategic planning practices in three specific categories: (a) museums; (b) human service agencies, and (c) Churches. The participation response rate in the survey for museums and human service agencies was 47% compared with 9% for Churches. The relatively low response rate of Churches might suggest a lack of strategic planning practice application in faith-based organizations.
Walker (2004) and Thompson and Strickland (2003) are used as a for-profit strategic planning model to be used as a baseline in comparison with the nonprofit strategic planning models of Addison and Kaye (1997), Bryson (1995), and Malphurs (1999). The strategic planning models are assessed, compared, and contrasted using multiple sources. Beginning with the for-profit perspective, Thompson and Strickland’s (2003) five tasks of strategic management present one way of strategic planning in for-profit organizations :
Task 1: Developing a Strategic Vision. “Very early in the strategic management process managers need to pose questions: what is our vision for the company, future technology-product-customer focus, enterprise we want to become, what industry standing achieve? Mission is defined in terms of what we presently are and do.” (Thompson & Strickland, 2003, p. 6). Imbedded in Task 1 are macro environmental evaluations of the industry and competitive analyses.
Task 2: Setting Objectives. The purpose is to convert strategic vision into bite sized pieces for implementation. “Strategic objectives aim at results that reflect increased competitiveness and a stronger business position” (Thompson & Strickland, 2003, p. 9). Strategic objectives are divided into two categories: (a) strategic objectives which strengthen the overall business position and (b) financial objectives established by management, typically relating to growth, profitability, and investment return.
Task 3: Crafting Strategy. This third task addresses how the organization will achieve the strategic vision and objectives. Thompson and Strickland (2003, p.13) state:
Strategy making is fundamentally a market driven and customer driven entrepreneurial activity- the essential qualities are a talent for capitalizing on emerging market opportunities and evolving customer needs, a bias for innovation and creativity, an appetite for prudent risk taking, and a strong sense of what needs to be done to grow and strengthen the business.
There is recognition that strategies need to evolve over time adjusting to and anticipating changing conditions in the organization’s value chain (activities and business processes that are performed in designing, producing, marketing, and delivering a product or service). Included in Task 3 is an internal assessment of capabilities: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis.
Task 4 Implementing and Executing the Strategy. What will it take in organizational capabilities to effectively implement the strategy? This task addresses the allocation of resources, organization alignment, reward and recognition structure, standard operating procedures, delegation and decision authority – all the myriad activities conducted by the organization and their value chain. “Strategy execution is essentially a make it happen, action oriented process- the key tasks are developing competencies and capabilities, budgeting, policy making, motivating, culture-building, and leadership” (Thompson & Strickland, 2003, p. 19).
Task 5 Evaluating Performance, Monitoring New Developments, and Initiating Corrective Adjustments. The best plans are rarely executed with perfection, and it is not practical to expect that all contributing factors will be known at the outset of plan implementation. Performance and monitoring mechanisms can offset this shortfall, and strategic management from which the effectiveness of strategy and plan execution can be assessed, including the impact of unexpected events. Corrective adjustments are made through changing resource allocations (Thompson & Strickland, 2003, p. 20-21).
The Thompson and Strickland (2003) example provides a planning model comparable to Walker (2004), and is presented to provide background and an illustration of for-profit planning. Many empirical research studies have been conducted on strategic planning in the for-profit sector, but few by comparison have been conducted in the nonprofit arena.
The models of Walker (2004) and Thomas and Strickland (2003) above, and related literature, will be compared and contrasted with the nonprofit models. The comparison process has been divided into three parts: part one is to plan for planning, part two to create the plan, and part three to implement it.
Part 1 focuses on getting ready for planning, or the “plan for planning.” This includes defining the mission, and establishing both the business and basic operating parameters of the organization. The for-profit strategic planning models use Walker (2004) and Thomas and Strickland (2003) as the baseline, and is followed by the nonprofit models of Allison and Kaye (1997), Bryson (1995), and Malphurs (1999) as the baseline. Comparisons are made throughout.
Thompson and Strickland (2003) recognize that an effective strategic planning process can take many forms in for-profit organizations, and is dependent on whether taking a chief architect, delegation, or team approach. The effectiveness of each is often dependent on the organization size, and the maturity of the industry in which the organization competes. Walker (2004) is similar in commentary with the caveat, “no firm wide strategic planning system can succeed without the support and involvement of the Chief Executive Officer” (p. 260).
Walker’s (2004) process in this part begins with line management first creating a plan for planning, then focusing on what Peter Drucker refers to as the theory of the business (Drucker, 1994). Drucker summarizes what Thompson and Strickland (2003) cover in a valid theory of the business (p. 100-101):
(a) assumptions about the environment, mission, and core competencies must fit reality; (b) the assumptions in all three areas must fit each other; (c) the theory of the business must be known and understood throughout the organization; and (d) the theory of the business must be tested constantly.
After diligent research and analysis, a strong theory of the business is developed for use in the Part 2 that follows.
Burnside (2002) researched for-profit organizations in five industry groupings, all with $100 million to $ 4 billion in revenue between 1997 and 2002. Burnside compared those publicly traded companies who do strategic planning formally with those who do it informally, and assessed the impact on financial return on equity, return on sales, and total market value. The results of the study indicated those companies that adopted a formal strategic planning process consistently outperformed those who planned informally. Hence it is important to ask for commitment to a formal process in for-profit companies. Walker (2004) proceeds to follow with the next steps of completing the initial theory of the business: establishing the mission and scope of products and services, thus agreeing with Thompson and Strickland (2003).
Allison and Kaye (1997), Bryson (1995), and Malphurs (1999) are adamant that the first stages are perhaps the most critical for nonprofit organizations. Preparing for the planning process, determining the participants, identifying the principal stakeholders and gaining their commitment, and establishing the initial mandates must be done first or the strategic planning process will fail.
Hussey (1974) evaluated strategic planning in an Anglican parish in England, and noted key failures that occurred early in their planning process:
- The planning committee unintentionally became exclusive, did not inform others of progress, and was not politically sensitive.
- The committee did not answer the fundamental planning question: What are the unique mission of this parish and “the purpose of this particular church” (p. 62)?
Bryson (1988) illustrates, “nonprofit organizations are often called upon to take up the slack left in the system by the departure of public organizations or services but are hard pressed to do so” (p.74). The reason most often identified for this problem lies in the early stages of the planning process. Without getting clear answers to the fundamental planning question answered early, the critical benefit of the planning process can be lost. The logic presented by Bryson has a parallel level of application in the for-profit sector relating to planning and decisions. The reason for strategic planning in for-profit organizations is “better strategic decisions” (Walker, 2004, p. 260).
McClamroch, Byrd, and Sowell (2001) almost 30 years later arrive at similar conclusions in another nonprofit situation. Success for the Indiana University Library’s process was dependent on a clear mission that was carefully articulated early and applied a modified form of the Bryson (1995) strategic planning process model. The logic of using business strategic planning analytical techniques such as those of Thompson and Strickland (2003) and Walker (2004) were not considered suitable due to aborted earlier planning attempts that had not been carefully executed.
The initial focus of the planning process according to Addison and Kaye (1997) and Bryson (1995) is to be politically sensitive to who is on the team, to know your stakeholders, and to plan out the process. Both Addison and Kaye and Bryson make reference to the stakeholders in the organization and their degree of influence. Unintentional omission in communication to a major donor, for example, is not being politically sensitive in the planning process in a nonprofit organization. Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois, reports similar findings. Mellado (1994, 1999), in his research of Willow Creek, demonstrated the importance of mission and political alignment in the strategic planning effort. Hussey (1974) and McClamroch, Byrd, and Sowell (2001) found similar early failures in their planning process evaluations when these steps were overlooked.
Grossman and Darwall (2003) studied a strategic planning effort for the Diocese of San Jose that spanned from 1999 through 2002. Though they made no specific reference to the Bryson or Addison and Kaye planning models, the authors found that the size and scope of challenges the Diocese faced mirrored the typical difficulties found in nonprofit situations: large scale problems, short resources, and a need to focus. The Diocese’s planning group followed a model similar to both Bryson and Addison and Kaye, and began by being politically sensitive, by setting a design, and by commissioning a team and a mission. They engaged in activity suggested by Malphurs (1999): to understand the organization, with the most important step being mission development. With all that, “in the early stages of the planning process they floundered” (Grossman & Darwall, 2003, p. 6) due to gaps in mission definition.
This section compares profit and not profit models in how they address the first part of the planning process: the plan for planning.
A major difference exists between profit and nonprofit perspectives on the concept of mission. O’Reilly (2000) published a for-profit based article on the importance of selling the mission internally to employees to gain their commitment. According to O’Reilly, recognition of and commitment to the core purpose or mission is essential to the success of the organization.
Whether profit or nonprofit, commitment to the mission is a key to success. Kohl (2001) emphasizes that mission is paramount, is at the very heart of any nonprofit organization, and is critical particularly for faith-based organizations to have a commitment from all stakeholders. Allison and Kaye (1997) indicate a clear mission is a primary characteristic of success in nonprofit organizations. Allison and Kaye argue there needs to be fundamental agreement on the mission by key stakeholders in the organization. If there is not agreement on the mission, obtaining agreement becomes one of the critical first steps in the planning process.
Bryson (1995) agrees on the importance mission to a nonprofit organization, its “reason d’etre or social justification for its existence” (p. 26). The nonprofit organization’s purpose or mission is a the bedrock of its existence.
Frigo (2003) presents the concept of mission driven strategy for nonprofit organizations. Frigo studied nonprofit organizations, and found that a critical component of success is a clear mission from which planning begins. What followed was a process that is is initiated with commitment to that mission from stakeholders and a focus on clear unmet needs of targeted markets.
Rangan (2004) adds a new element to nonprofit organization mission definition. While Rangan agrees with both Kohl (2001) and Frigo (2003) that mission should drive strategy, he concludes, however, that a nonprofit organization, including those faith-based, should not be restricted by that mission. This new dimension creates an operational mission once the organizational mission has been clearly defined. The organization mission provides the primary purpose of the organization. This new operational mission can become more quantifiable and specific, and will answer specific questions, such as: “What are you going to do about this problem? What is your unique role? Will you fight homelessness by building new homes, reforming public housing, or boosting loans for the poor?” (Rangan, 2004, p. 116).
In for-profit organizations there is a common step in planning a transition from mission to the scope or theory of the business. This transition defines the primary markets to be served, and the products and services the organization will provide. In profit organizations, the theory of the business needs to be constantly reevaluated, as called for in the comments of Drucker (1994), Thompson and Strickland (2003), and Walker (2004).
The commitment to part one of a strategic planning process, plan for planning, is more politically sensitive in nonprofit organizations than in their for-profit counterparts. Once in place, the team set, and the mission or purpose clear, Addison and Kaye (1997) and Bryson (1995) move to setting initial mandates, initiatives, or priorities. This is repeated in the examples from Kohl (2001); McClamroch, Byrd, and Sowell (2001); and Grossman and Darwall (2003). That is, in each instance, initial priorities were established once the planning team, schedule, and mission had been set.
Part one presented the plan for planning including who would be involved in the planning process, the importance of mission, the setting of initial priorities for nonprofit organizations, and determining the theory of the business for the profit based organizations. The process now moves to part two, and begins with an evaluation of the environment.
The sequences are based on the works of Walker (2004) and Thompson and Strickland (2003) for-profit organizations, and Addison and Kaye (1997), Bryson (1995), and Malphurs (1999) for nonprofit organizations. There are some clearly demonstrable differences between for-profit and nonprofit organizations in the process of creating the strategic plan.
The first step in creating the plan is an environmental assessment, both external and internal. This is an expected step for both nonprofit and for-profit organizations.
Walker (2004) and Thomas and Strickland (2003) both begin their process with an industry and competitive analysis. One cornerstone work in this area is that of Porter (1980), and includes the Five Forces model of competition, a comprehensive view of the competitive environment. Porter’s five forces are: (a) direct competitors, (b) customers, (c) suppliers, (d) firms with substitute products, and (e) potential new entrants. Bourgeois (1980) presents a similar case in the for-profit sector linking effective strategy selection to first having a clear understanding of the environment. “The development of strategies to guide organizational activities are key managerial functions, and that guidance is accomplished through the effective co-alignment of organizational resources with environmental conditions” (Bourgeois, 1980, p. 37).
The competitive assessment asks the question, where does the organization’s products and services fit compared to past, present, and future direct and potential competitors? The assessment also asks what are the dominant economic features of the industry, and typically seeks to determine such features as regulation, size, growth, underlying technology, and level and duration of competition, both global and domestic. Strength and intensity of direct competitors, power of buyers and channels of distribution, power of suppliers and supply chain, level of barriers to entry/exit, and potential for alternative products or services, are all analyses of dynamic forces within an industry.
Also asked is what is/has caused the industry’s competitive structure to change? Only by acknowledging and anticipating external forces and their impacts on industry structure can an organization position themselves for strategic advantage. Stauffer (2002) brings additional thought into the process of evaluation by painting scenario questions that help identify future situations and alternatives. Scenario planning applications were most commonly found in for-profit planning applications but have equal applicability in nonprofit organizations. As an example, a nonprofit credit union, using a scenario not to be dependent on one mega for-profit sponsor, made a strategic decision to move away from a dependence on Enron.
The Addison and Kaye (1997) and Bryson (1995) processes for evaluating the environment in nonprofits are significantly simpler than Walker’s (2004) and Thompson and Strickland’s (2003). Their environmental evaluation consists essentially of staff and stakeholder based brainstorming efforts. A typical process of interviewing and gathering information from stakeholders on what they know, coupled with limited fact finding of locally available data, are used to outline basic environmental factors affecting the organization.
Odom and Boxx (1988) did a study of 179 churches and their efforts in strategic planning, focusing both on their perceptions of the environment and their planning processes. As part of that study they discovered a paucity of research in strategic planning practices for nonprofit faith-based organizations. External reference points included community, competitive, social, political, and economic factors. Using a five point Likert scale, they asked respondents to evaluate the importance of the internal and external factors in the Churches’ strategic planning efforts. Their findings indicated that churches that perceive their environments to be more dynamic tend toward more formal planning, using, for example, a Bryson (1995) process. Odom and Boxx point out that the perception of the environment as dynamic is not necessarily the reality. The sophistication of the planning process is directly related to the size and growth rate of the church.
Hussey (1974) and Blanding (2002) provided illustrations of nonprofit faith-based organizations that are less sophisticated in doing environmental analysis. Blanding (2002) began with a quantitative survey of strategic planning in churches in the Washington, DC, area. As part of this evaluation process, Blanding discovered the assessment processes in these churches were generally informal, internally fact based, and had little or no focus on the external environment. Most of the information was not based on facts but on generalizations and opinions of stakeholders. The environmental analysis was not sophisticated in these examples, replicating the research results of Odom and Boxx (1988).
Mellado (1994, 1999) for Willow Creek Community Church, and Grossman and Darwall (2003) for the Diocese of San Jose are examples of nonprofit faith-based organizations progressing in size and growth. Willow Creek has over 20,000 parishioners in a single location with multiple services, and the Diocese of San Jose (established in 1991) has 22 parishes with over 20,000 parishioners. Their levels of planning sophistication in environmental assessment are adequate compared to the norm in non profits illustrated by Addison and Kaye (1997) and Bryson (1995). Malphurs (1999) provides a template for environmental scanning that is significantly simpler in approach in comparison to Addison and Kaye (1997). If the Malphurs template is used as the norm, Willow Creek and the Diocese of San Jose would have been considered sophisticated in their respective planning efforts.
Katsioloudes and Tymon (2003) uncovered a specific gap in strategic planning practices of nonprofits in their lack of gathering and using data in making decisions in external and internal environmental analysis. This factor, coupled with the lack of skills in performing strategic planning within the organization were inhibitors in the effectiveness of the process.
For-profit internal environment assessment is seamless with the external in assessing the organization’s current and potential capabilities with a targeted future. Walker (2004) and Thompson and Strickland (2003) reference a four part Michael Porter strategic planning model dealing with strategy, market focus versus cost, and differentiation. The four elements of Porter’s model include: overall low-cost, focused low-cost, broad differentiation, and focused differentiation. Thompson and Strickland (2003) have added a fifth element, best cost provider.
Porter (1980) challenges organizations to recognize that strategy means choosing to compete on the basis of one of these four positions. The concept of strategy as defined by Porter (1980) is a sustained competitive advantage based on the organization’s capabilities. If it is on the basis of cost, it can mean the organization has the unique capability to produce at a lower cost than their competitors across all products or in a few directed at a particular market segment. One of the potential challenges to the approach developed by Porter (1980) and expanded by Thompson and Strickland (2003) relates to the impact of the internet and e-commerce on these strategic choices. Porter (2001) reiterates the same concepts of strategy again presented in his original 1996 article, arguing the internet is just another tool, “a strategic complement” (p. 63) to enhance an organization’s quest to seek competitive advantage.
The nonprofit internal assessment very commonly leads to a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) evaluation. These are the recommended steps enumerated by Addison and Kaye (1997) and Bryson (1988, 1995). The process is one of matching the net results of the SWOT with the nonprofit Mission and initial mandates to arrive at goals and strategic initiatives. Malphurs (1999) defines strategy as “how your ministry will accomplish your mission” (p. 156). Malphurs, unlike Addison and Kaye and Bryson, provides no specific models such as SWOT to illustrate how mission through strategy will arrive at initiatives and goals. Strategy is commonly a missing element in faith-based organization planning practices. Effective nonprofit examples provided by Wiesendanger (1994) included four case study organizations linking mission, competitive environment, and a clear mandate for change. One example is the American Association of University Women with an annual budget of $12 million, 10 years of declining membership, and no unified mission among local branches. Visibility was virtually nonexistent; women did not know why they should contribute their time or their money to the organization. They conducted a fact finding assessment together with an internal SWOT evaluation and arrived at the following solutions: (a) a strategic planning process that developed a clear mission, namely, to be the advocate for educational equity for women and girls; and (b) a goal to be a catalyst for change. American Association of University Women helped push through Congress a piece of legislation called the “Elementary/Secondary Education Act” (p. 34) for the purpose of gender equity in training teachers. The end result was a reversal in membership. “Last year the membership grew by 6%, the first increase in 10 years. Branch membership stabilized after years of steady attrition” (p. 34).
Bryson, Gibbons, and Shaye (2001) suggest a strategic planning approach with the development of an enterprise scheme for nonprofits paralleling the business model used by for-profits. Such a scheme should include a unifying mission, vision, and direction, an on-going planning and socialization process, and performance management tied to the mission. Bryson, et. al. (2001) recognized this is not the norm and a major departure for nonprofit organizations.
More common examples in nonprofits are the listing of SWOT evaluations and subsequent identification of issues and goals without supporting detailed fact finding. Specific illustrations in faith-based organizations of internal assessments using a SWOT or similar approach as a means of identifying church mandates or initiatives with no demonstrated factual analysis were reported by Hussey (1974), Crittenden, Crittenden, & Hunt, (1988), and Hagan, (2003). The mandates and issues referenced to the Mission were indirect.
The exceptions to this informal opinion-only based approach with limited factual analysis reinforce the findings of Katsioloudes and Tymon (2003), Odom and Boxx (1988), and Stone, et al. (1999), who all noted that with increase in organization size and growth, there is an increased formality in planning. Grossman and Darwall (2003) for the Diocese of San Jose and Mellado (1994, 1999) for Willow Creek Community Church deal with large, relatively sophisticated nonprofit organizations. In the planning processes of these latter organizations, they performed a SWOT evaluation, developed strategic initiatives, and linked them back to the Mission. However, concepts of strategy, competing for funding, et al. are not mentioned in either process for Willow Creek or for the Diocese of San Jose. It would seem than in the area of creating the plan, there is a closer agreement in process between profit and not profit organizations that was experienced in the “plan for planning” stage.
Walker (2004) expands strategy in profit organizations into operating programs and effective performance metrics; “each program should have an accountable manager and a specific time frame for its completion” (p. 270). Essentially, people within an organization thrive on meeting aggressive organization performance targets and being part of a “winning effort” (Thompson & Strickland, 2003, p. 438). The strategic plan is written based on all of the preceding information, converting the strategies into specific initiatives and programs with targeted goals and metrics to evaluate progress. The goals and metrics are often driven by a scorecard or strategy map, according to Kaplan and Norton (2001). For example, the concept of the balanced scorecard by Robert Kaplan and David Norton has been developed as an effective tool for-profit and public organizations for measuring implementation of strategy.
In nonprofit organizations, Allison and Kaye (1997) and Bryson 1995) have outlined a very simple and straightforward process for writing a plan document and preparing task lists for accomplishing specific initiatives. Bryson (1996) prepares a companion document filled with planning checklists for implementation of strategic plans. The checklists themselves are limited in scope and generic in application. On the other hand, Malphurs (1999) recommends setting specific actions, deadlines, and priorities as part of the strategic planning process for a faith-based organization, but neglects to provide the comparative guidance of Allison and Kaye (1997) or Bryson (1995). Jegers and Lapsley (2001) took an international look at nonprofit organizations and the challenge they have in balancing plans and implementation. The heart of their concern is in keeping score, matching concepts of non-financial performance indicators with giving and disbursing. The authors suggest recent tools such as the balance scorecard are a beginning but much work needs to be done in this area for nonprofit organizations.
In faith-based organizations there were good examples of goals and programs but poor examples in terms of metrics. Hussey (1974) had no metrics. The Odom and Boxx (1988) study had a mixture of goals and programs with no clear links to mission, and no metrics to assess progress. Mellado (1994) demonstrated Willow Creek had very clear goals and programs and clear links to mission with metrics. The churches in the Blanding (2002) study had a mixture of goals and programs but no clear link to mission or metrics. Grossman and Darwall (2003) showed clear goals, programs, and metrics for the Diocese of San Jose. The plan developed by the Diocese of San Jose had the assistance of a planning consultant among its volunteers and included staff from McKinsey & Co.
Lindgren (2001) indicates this process of recognizing and developing metrics is clearly new ground for nonprofits though hardly new to the rest of the planning world, with concepts such as the Balanced Scorecard and performance measurement already proven effective. Overall, it was unusual for metrics to be used in nonprofits and very unusual in faith-based nonprofits.
The chapter has focused on strategic planning in nonprofit organizations with a subset of faith-based organizations. The formal studies on strategic planning practices for nonprofits are limited in number and those for faith-based organizations are very rare. Based on a review of the studies presented in this chapter the following conclusions are made:
- Nonprofit organizations are highly politically sensitive in strategic planning practices and require significantly more pre-planning effort to ensure success compared to for-profit organizations. The process steps in the plan for planning for nonprofits and faith-based organizations provide an opportunity for exploration and research.
- The available process models for nonprofit organizations are comparable to for-profit organization models but lack the depth of analysis. The actual environmental assessment process for nonprofit organizations and faith-based organizations in the research are very limited in scope and are typically driven more by stakeholder perspectives and localized fact finding than any in-depth research. The one strategic planning practice model specifically designed for nonprofit faith-based organization, Churches, by Malphurs (1999) did not based on strategic planning theories; the primary references are theology and anecdotal case studies.
- Strategic initiatives or major goals for nonprofit organizations and faith-based organizations tended to be driven from the internal portion of the environmental analysis, more commonly referred to as a SWOT evaluation. In the most effective situations the initiatives are linked to the organization’s mission. Concepts of strategy are not formally raised in any of the writings or studies of faith-based organizations with a result many opportunities are not effectively evaluated for implementation.
- Scorecards and implementation information for nonprofits in faith-based organizations were in limited supply. In some instances there were very clear examples of success when all concepts of the strategic planning process were put in place. Overall, nonprofits appear not to link all of the elements from to plan for planning through evaluation of progress in implementing the strategic plan.
- Effective strategic planning practices are not in evidence in nonprofit faith-based organizations on any consistent basis.