Coming Late 2019

Values, Rationality, and Power: Developing Organizational Wisdom

A Case Study of a Canadian Healthcare System

How do we create organizations that act wisely? Can we even put ‘organization’ and ‘wise’ in the same sentence without irony? Through this study, I demonstrate organizations can act wisely, and we can help them do so. This research utilized a critical realist framework and phronetic research approach to perform an embedded single case study of a group’s attempt to develop and spread a medical innovation within a Canadian healthcare authority. This book presents a framework to conceptualize and study wisdom, identifying that (1) values guide wise action, (2) knowledge is required but insufficient for wisdom, and (3) wisdom is action-oriented. Results demonstrated the power values possess to drive organizational behaviour—they gave direction to individuals’ exercise of rationality and episodic power. Though different values led to points of resistance in the organization, shared values were the basis of building supportive alliances. Individuals’ use of rationality not only informed people how to implement their values but was also the means through which the organization reified power. Through the savvy of individuals who understood how power operated within their organization, the team developing the innovation moved their project forward despite resistance and turnover of their senior executive champion. This study explored how to spread innovation through a healthcare system, gaining insight into why groups resist spread and how individuals can exercise their values, rationality, and power to overcome this resistance. Through this understanding, we can create a discipline of scholarship and teaching that fosters the development of organizational wisdom.

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