Problem Solving In Organizations

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Cambridge University Press978-1-107-01936-2 — Problem Solving in Organizations2nd EditionFrontmatterMore InformationProblem Solving in OrganizationsThis concise introduction to the methodology of problem solving inorganizations is an indispensable guide to the design and execution ofpractical business improvement projects in real organizational settings.The methodology is design-oriented and theory-informed. It encouragesstudents to use the theory gained in their disciplinary courses by showingthem how to do so in a fuzzy, ambiguous and politically charged real-lifeorganizational context. The book provides an in-depth discussion of thevarious aspects and steps of the process of business and organizationalproblem solving. Rather than presenting the methodology as a recipe tobe followed, the authors demonstrate how to adapt the approach tospecific situations and to be flexible in scheduling the work at the varioussteps in the process. It will be indispensable to MBA and other studentswho venture outside the university walls to do real-life fieldwork.Joan Ernst van Aken is Professor Emeritus of Organization Science at theSchool of Industrial Engineering, Eindhoven University of Technology,the Netherlands.Hans Berends is Assistant Professor at the Department of Innovation,Technology, Entrepreneurship and Marketing in the School of IndustrialEngineering, Eindhoven University of Technology, the Netherlands.Hans van der Bij is Associate Professor at the Department of Innovation,Management and Strategy in the Faculty of Economics and Business,Groningen University, the Netherlands. in this web service Cambridge University Presswww.cambridge.org

Cambridge University Press978-1-107-01936-2 — Problem Solving in Organizations2nd EditionFrontmatterMore Information in this web service Cambridge University Presswww.cambridge.org

Cambridge University Press978-1-107-01936-2 — Problem Solving in Organizations2nd EditionFrontmatterMore InformationProblem Solvingin OrganizationsA Methodological Handbookfor Business and ManagementStudentsSECOND EDITIONJoan Ernst van AkenHans BerendsHans van der Bij in this web service Cambridge University Presswww.cambridge.org

Cambridge University Press978-1-107-01936-2 — Problem Solving in Organizations2nd EditionFrontmatterMore InformationUniversity Printing House, Cambridge CB2 8BS, United KingdomCambridge University Press is part of the University of Cambridge.It furthers the University’s mission by disseminating knowledge in the pursuit ofeducation, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence.www.cambridge.orgInformation on this title: www.cambridge.org/9781107619142# Joan van Aken, Hans Berends and Hans van der Bij 2012This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exceptionand to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements,no reproduction of any part may take place withoutthe written permission of Cambridge University Press.First published 2007Second edition 20127th printing 2017Printed in the United Kingdom by Clays, St Ives plcA catalogue record for this publication is available from the British LibraryLibrary of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataAken, Joan Ernst van.Problem solving in organizations : a methodological handbook for business and management students /Joan van Aken, Hans Berends, Hans van der Bij. – Second edition.pages cmIncludes bibliographical references and index.ISBN 978-1-107-01936-2 (Hardback) – ISBN 978-1-107-61914-2 (Paperback) 1. Problem solving.I. Berends, Hans. II. Bij, Hans van der, 1955– III. Title.HD31.A37 2012658.40 03–dc232011051363ISBN 978-1-107-01936-2 HardbackISBN 978-1-107-61914-2 PaperbackCambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence oraccuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred toin this publication, and does not guarantee that any content on suchwebsites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate. in this web service Cambridge University Presswww.cambridge.org

Cambridge University Press978-1-107-01936-2 — Problem Solving in Organizations2nd EditionFrontmatterMore InformationContentsList of figuresList of tablesList of boxesPrefacepage ixxxixiiiPART IFUNDAMENTALS1 Scope and nature of this handbook1.1 Objectives and target audiences1.2 Design-oriented and theory-informed problem solvingin organizations1.3 How to use this handbook332 Student projects2.1 Introduction2.2 Two basic process structures2.3 Three knowledge-generating research processes2.4 Problems caused by mixing different process structures2.5 Concluding remarks99101318223 Problem solving projects3.1 Introduction3.2 Rational problem solving3.3 Problem solving strategies3.4 Theory-informed field problem solving3.5 The application domain of design-oriented andtheory-informed problem solving3.6 The nature of field problem solving projects3.7 The basic set-up of a field problem solving project3.8 Characteristics of good field problem solving projects2424242628303137394 Designs and designing4.1 Introduction4.2 Designing material entities424242 in this web service Cambridge University Press58www.cambridge.org

Cambridge University Press978-1-107-01936-2 — Problem Solving in Organizations2nd EditionFrontmatterMore InformationviContents4.34.4Social system designParadigmatic starting points in social system design52565 Problem solving projects to develop generic theory5.1 Introduction5.2 Research paradigms5.3 Developing generic theory on the basis of problem solvingprojects59596062PART IITHE PROBLEM SOLVING PROJECT6 Intake and orientation6.1 Introduction6.2 Intake6.3 Orientation6.4 Problem context6.5 Problem definition6.6 Assignment and deliverables6.7 Project approach6.8 Project costs and organization6.9 Problem solving projects in different formats6.10 Example71717176787882838788927 Theory-informed diagnosis of business problems7.1 Introduction7.2 Empirical exploration and validation of the businessproblem and its causes7.3 Theoretical analysis7.4 Process-oriented analysis7.5 The diagnostic story7.6 Alternative approaches: quick scan7.7 Concluding remarks99991001071131161171188 Solution design8.1 Introduction8.2 The deliverables of the field problem solving project8.3 The design process8.4 Solution design8.5 Solution justification8.6 Solution design: the IIS case119119119121123128130 in this web service Cambridge University Presswww.cambridge.org

Cambridge University Press978-1-107-01936-2 — Problem Solving in Organizations2nd EditionFrontmatterMore InformationContents9 Change plan design and the actual change process9.1 The timing of change plan design9.2 Change plan design9.3 The change process9.4 Change plan design: the IIS case9.5 Change plan design: the importance of developingorganizational support10 Evaluation, learning and termination10.1 Introduction10.2 Project-oriented evaluation10.3 Learning for the future10.4 Scientific reflection10.5 Personal and professional development10.6 Project termination and 6PART IIIMETHODS11 Qualitative research methods11.1 Qualitative versus quantitative11.2 Unit of analysis11.3 Sampling and case selection11.4 Qualitative data collection methods11.5 Qualitative methods of analysis11.6 Selecting a method17117117317617818218612 Searching and using scholarly literature12.1 Introduction12.2 Types of publication12.3 Focusing a literature review12.4 Searching the literature12.5 Integrating ideas and findings18818818919319419713 Quality criteria for research13.1 Introduction13.2 Controllability13.3 Reliability13.4 Validity13.5 Recognition of results13.6 Concluding remarks201201203204209212213 in this web service Cambridge University Presswww.cambridge.org

Cambridge University Press978-1-107-01936-2 — Problem Solving in Organizations2nd EditionFrontmatterMore InformationviiiContentsPART IVCASE MATERIAL14 Cases14.1 Introduction14.2 The assignment: make a project proposal14.3 Four casesReferencesAuthor indexIndex in this web service Cambridge University Press217217217219230239240www.cambridge.org

Cambridge University Press978-1-107-01936-2 — Problem Solving in Organizations2nd EditionFrontmatterMore 27.17.27.37.48.110.1The empirical cyclepage 11The problem solving cycle12The theory development process14The theory-testing process16Reflective redesign18The problem solving cycle37Process, object and realization design43Synthesis-evaluation iterations (loop A) andrequirement-design iterations (loop B)45A general model for a design process47Example of a preliminary cause-and-effect tree80General structure of conceptual project design for thediagnosis in field problem solving projects83Results of incident analysis at ABC Research111Information-processing model112An example of a process diagram115Ishikawa diagram for a group of patients with chronicobstructive pulmonary diseases116The key activities in actual designing: synthesis-evaluationiterations122Number of damaged and missing products over a two-yearperiod156 in this web service Cambridge University Presswww.cambridge.org

Cambridge University Press978-1-107-01936-2 — Problem Solving in Organizations2nd EditionFrontmatterMore InformationTables11.1 Choosing the unit of analysis11.2 Strategies for selecting cases of a unit of analysis in this web service Cambridge University Presspage 173177www.cambridge.org

Cambridge University Press978-1-107-01936-2 — Problem Solving in Organizations2nd EditionFrontmatterMore xample of theory development processExample of theory-testing processExample of reflective redesignExample 1Example 2Example of the use of an external explorationExamples of business problems and correspondingassignmentsExamples of parts of four exploratory interviewsregarding the ABC Research caseExample of a project proposalAn indirect validation of a business problemMultiple sources of evidence in this web service Cambridge University Presspage 151719212273749293102106www.cambridge.org

Cambridge University Press978-1-107-01936-2 — Problem Solving in Organizations2nd EditionFrontmatterMore Information in this web service Cambridge University Presswww.cambridge.org

Cambridge University Press978-1-107-01936-2 — Problem Solving in Organizations2nd EditionFrontmatterMore InformationPrefaceThis handbook provides the methodology for problem solving in organizations.Its target audience includes not just undergraduate and graduate students inmanagement and in business but also other people regularly involved inbusiness and organizational problem solving, such as junior managementconsultants or engineers and other professionals working in organizationalcontexts. This second edition is a thoroughly revised version of the 2007edition. The revision includes a new chapter on how to use problem solvingprojects to develop generic theory, further detailed discussions on designs andthe design process, and more illustrative cases and cases for instruction.The ability to solve business and organizational problems in real-life organizational settings can be regarded as the key competence of managers and ofprofessionals working in organizations. A powerful way for students to developthis competence is to engage in problem solving in real organizational settingsunder academic supervision. Solving paper cases can develop a number ofcognitive competences, but not all the competences that are needed to besuccessful in the fuzzy, ambiguous and politically charged real-life organizational context. This handbook aims to provide a methodological basis forproblem solving in organizations.The theory given here can best be mastered through a – possibly brief –classroom course in which the contents of this handbook are discussed and inwhich, on the basis of some (paper) cases, training is given on issues such asproblem definition, developing a project proposal, problem analysis and solution design. However, a richer learning experience can be realized if suchclassroom training is followed by the further development of problem solvingcompetences through actual problem solving in the field, individually or in a(small) group. In this way the student can develop real ‘clinical experience’.The scientification of the field of business and management has enabled it todevelop into a respectable social science. This has led to the idea that the corecompetence of the business or management graduate is carrying out goodexplanatory research and that fieldwork for a business or management studentmeans doing explanatory research. For academically trained people in disciplines such as sociology or ethnography, carrying out good explanatory in this web service Cambridge University Presswww.cambridge.org

Cambridge University Press978-1-107-01936-2 — Problem Solving in Organizations2nd EditionFrontmatterMore InformationxivPrefaceresearch is indeed their core competence, and for students in these disciplinesfieldwork does indeed mean doing such research. However, as mentionedabove, we are of the opinion that the core competence of business or management graduates is not explanatory research but knowledge-intensive fieldproblem solving; in other words, not just researching ‘the actual’, but alsodesigning and realizing ‘the preferred’.Business or organizational problem solving is very different from business ororganizational research. There are many books on methodology for business ororganizational research, which are often quite similar to more general socialscience research methodology. However, they give the methodology for analysing what is, and focus on the development of descriptive and explanatoryknowledge. In business or organizational problem solving, on the other hand,the focus is on designing what can be, or what should be, in order to improvethe performance of a specific business system on one or more criteria. Inorder to be able to design a business system, or to redesign an existing one,one must analyse the present one and the possible causes of its less thansatisfactory performance. For this, many classic (and non-classic, for thatmatter) methods of social science research can help. However, problemanalysis is only the first part of field problem solving. Analysis should beat the service of the design of solutions (and the associated change plans).Therefore, the methodology given here is design-oriented: a problem solvingproject following this methodology aims at the design of a sound solutionand change plan, and at the actual realization of performance improvementwith the help of these designs. It is about business performance improvementon the basis of sound plans. It is not about making sophisticated analyseswithout designing solutions, nor about a process of logical incrementalism,or muddling through or trial and error, in which business problems aresolved on the basis of increasing insight, developed along the way in astep-by-step process.The methodology of this handbook is also theory-informed. In practice,problem solving in organizations is often carried out in a craftsman-like way,on the basis of business experience and common sense. However, the methodology presented in this book is theory-informed, based on state-of-the-artthinking on the types of business systems and types of problems in questionand on the methods to be used in solving business problems (without, ofcourse, disregarding common sense and relevant experience). Because of this,our approach can be regarded as a methodology for evidence-based practice,or, more specifically, evidence-based management (EBMgt). In fact, this bookmay be regarded as a foundation course in evidence-based management. in this web service Cambridge University Presswww.cambridge.org

Cambridge University Press978-1-107-01936-2 — Problem Solving in Organizations2nd EditionFrontmatterMore InformationPrefacexvOur approach builds on the traditions of rational problem solving. The typesof problem that are best suited to this approach should have a significanttechnical-economic content. At the same time, the approach recognizes thatorganizations are social systems, that realizing improvements in businesssystem performance entails organizational change, and that effective organizational change needs not only technical-economic interventions (such as thepresentation of a promising solution for the problem) but political and culturalinterventions as well. Therefore, our focus is not simply on the design oftechnical solutions but also on the design of the change process that is neededto actually realize the performance improvement, and on the development oforganizational support for the solution and the change plan.Many regard the business school as a professional school, like medicalschools and engineering schools, and regard the business or managementgraduate as a professional. In our view, this implies that field problem solvingis the core competence of this graduate, rather than carrying out good explanatory research (as opposed to physicists or sociologists, for whom doing goodexplanatory research is indeed their core competence). However, in an academic approach to the profession, graduate students also need to develop thecompetence to add to the knowledge base of their field ( just as medical doctorsand engineers need to be able to add to the knowledge base of their fields, evenif field problem solving is their core competence). Doing field problem solvingprojects generates a rich knowledge base, which can be used not only to solvethe specific problem at hand but also as a basis to generalize across cases, thusdeveloping new and relevant generic knowledge. Even if this book is not oneon research methodology, it will nevertheless give methodological support forusing the results of field problem solving for research. If academic supervisorschoose the projects they are to supervise in line with their research interests,these projects can provide strong support for their research output.Field problem solving should, in our opinion, be a very important element inany business or management course programme, as it aims to develop the corecompetence of the student. However, it is carried out in a terrain that has manymore pitfalls and traps for the unwary than a university library. We hope thatthe methodology given in this handbook will help the student to navigate thischallenging but important and rewarding landscape.JOAN ERNST VAN AKENHANS BERENDSHANS VAN DER BIJEindhoven, August 2011 in this web service Cambridge University Presswww.cambridge.org

3.3 Problem solving strategies 26 3.4 Theory-informed field problem solving 28 3.5 The application domain of design-oriented and theory-informed problem solving 30 3.6 The nature of field problem solving projects 31 3.7 The basic set-up of a field problem solving project 37 3.8 Characteristics o

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