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date: 12 December 2019

(p. 21) Micro Processes in Organizations

The chapters in this section focus on the theory and research on individual employees in organizations and how, in the aggregate, this focus on individual employees has consequences for and may be determined by organizational climate and culture. An underlying theme is that how these processes are implemented within organizations varies as a result of the organization’s culture and climate, and in turn results in differences in these across (and even within) organizations. For example, in chapter 2, Ployhart, Hale Jr., and Campion take an organizational view of recruitment and selection and raise the issue of the degree to which those recruited and hired are determined by and in turn determine the climate and culture of a setting. Throughout, there is a focus on how human capital management is a source of competitive advantage.

In chapter 3 the target of a similar reciprocal perspective is entry into organizations, specifically socialization, orientation, and training. By combining these topics into a single chapter, Feldman and O’Neill provide an unusually expansive view of the early experiences most people have in an organization; this expansive and simultaneous consideration reveals how the climate and culture determine how entry processes are conducted and to what ends people are directed both informally (socialization) and formally (training).

Another way in which the HR practices of companies is both revealing of and contributes to climate and culture concerns the performance management practices in organizations. Thus, in chapter 5 London and Mone present a very complete review of the performance management literatures and show how the practices in this arena are an implicit yet tangible “artifact” that exemplifies the foci with which the organization is concerned. Similarly, the performance goals, both conscious and subconscious, toward which people work in settings is explored in chapter 4 by Latham and Sue-Chan. The chapter traces the early work on motivations (needs, traits) through goal setting in ways that clearly suggest the importance of goals as exemplifying an organization’s climate and culture. The effectiveness of five different motivational tactics (i.e., goal setting, incentives, coaching, celebrations, and employee voice) in creating, maintaining, and changing an organization’s culture and climate are also explored in this chapter.

Climate and culture are mostly implicitly communicated to people in organizations by all of the practices just reviewed; explicit communication occurs through multimedia communication and through direct leadership. The issue of communication has not been much studied in the climate literature but in the world of organizational culture it has played an important role, and Keyton provides this vantage point for us in chapter 7. She is especially clear in this chapter about how management only has limited control over what people sense the culture to be; rather, culture in her perspective is something that is negotiated based on every kind of (p. 22) communication/message people experience. With regard to leadership, it is almost impossible to find a chapter in the Handbook that does not invoke “leadership,” but Day, Griffin, and Louw focus specifically and in depth on this topic in chapter 6 and show the many ways in which leaders dictate—and also respond to—the climate and culture in which they work. What it means to have a climate and culture of leadership is directly explored.

Specific kinds of climates and cultures that individuals encounter at work, issues that have also typically been studied at the individual level of analysis, are also explored in this section of the Handbook. Thus, what organizations do to create climates and cultures for positive and negative affective well-being (chapter 8 by Ashkanasy and Härtel) and stress (chapter 10 by Jex, Sliter, and Britton) are presented here. In both of these chapters the consequences of the environments employees experience for those employees and ultimately the organization as a human environment are portrayed in new and interesting ways. A consequence of these positive and negative environments, of course, could be positive and negative behaviors displayed as a result of these environments, and these productive and counterproductive behaviors are presented in chapter 9 by Ehrhart and Raver. All three of these chapters (8, 9, and 10) do an excellent job of taking topics traditionally studied at the individual level of analysis and reconceptualizing them as group and organizational level phenomena.

The final chapter in the section, chapter 11 on big data, applies new data analytic tactics to organizational level human resources data of the kinds reviewed earlier in the section. These “new” techniques have emerged with considerable vigor out of early market research that yielded insights into the purchases consumers made in supermarkets. Some economists are claiming this “data science” as their own because of the insights masses of data can yield on actual organization-level human resources practices. Guzzo, Nalbantian, and Parra offer a few examples of how such analyses can yield insights into climate and culture-relevant reasons for why organizations do what they do vis-à-vis their human resources. Thus, in contrast to much of the historically individual differences focus of the Industrial and Organizational Psychology/Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management literatures on these topics, the chapters in Part 2 concern the aggregate consequences of these practices and how the foci and ways the practices are implemented determine and are in turn a function of the climate and culture of the setting.