What Org Psych Theories would you consider applying in a Capability Framework design

Seeking to upskill myself on some Org Psych theories that i might need to be aware of before kicking off work to design a new Org Capability Framework.

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Hi Katherine,

Here’s an academic review of organizational capabilities:

It reviews most everything you’d need to know about org capabilities and provides guidance for the state of theories on the subject (as of 2011, but I wouldn’t much has changed substantially). A warning, though: it’s dense. So here’s my general takeaway if it helps:

Individual employee behaviors and job tasks make up team-level, department-level, and org-level routines (where routines are these behaviors repeated over time, like formalized or informal steps people take to get their work done). The article uses the example… “in developing a product color from designers’ drawings, a product development team performs a pattern of activities that includes attending a meeting, making a prototype, and sending a fax…” (p. 472). That’s their routine for that one part of their work.

The collections of routines that employees go through determine the team’s/department’s/org.'s capabilities to consistently contribute to the firm’s goals. If that product color routine isn’t in place (such as if everyone does things differently and there’s no consistent set of steps to count on), an org. isn’t as “capable” (or, well-positioned) to create or develop new products. The article says, "Capabilities hence reflect a firm’s ability to reliably perform its basic functional activities. pp. 472-473)

In this sense, they each kind of roll up into each other (behaviors >> routines, routines >> capabilities).

I hope that’s helpful as you build out your framework! The article has a complicated but nice kind of chart that shows this roll up.

Hi Katherine,

I’ll give a short answer and point you at some resources I thought were useful recently.

  1. Theories are just theories. You should also look to see if you have any internal research or is there any good external research indicating what sort of competencies or skills are associated with success in our domain. You should consider including them in your framework regardless of theory.

  2. Often it is about how you frame the framework. If you adopt something based on intrinsic motivational theory for example then you should include things that support intrinsic rationale for why a competency factor is in your framework. So if you include ‘Learning Capabilty’ you might talk not just about how it can help the company through people learning better ways of doing things but that Learning is a key thing for people’s careers in the broader workplace in our times. And that it is a skill or muscle that is needed inside and outside just our company.

I think competency frameworks should be motivating and thus the most relevant ideas I think are from the motivational literature. Here is a nice clear summary of some of the main historical approaches.

And the more recent work on what is called Total Motivation draws a number of these threads together I think in many ways. Though it is early days whether it represents anything drastically new.

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LEGEND!!! Thanks so much!