Competing Values Framework

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Competing Values Framework

Organisational culture research is a branch of study gaining popularity among scholars, human resource managers, business owners, entrepreneurs, and strategists. At the onset of its introduction into the world of business and administration, the competing values framework was based on research to spot indicators of organisational effectiveness. In the world of organisational studies, the concept of effectiveness is an important factor. Researchers then were engrossed in the attitudes, behaviours, and concepts that made organisations effective. It was during one such research that Robert Quinn, with others, came up with what is now known as the competing values framework.

The competing values framework is one of the most effective ways of examining and profiling an organisation’s culture. The competing values framework highlights a consolidated concept of endeavour that coordinates and assimilates various types of culture, competencies, strategies, and leadership. It also involves circumstantial aspects, such as markets, dynamics within the industry, and financial valuations and estimations. It allows an alignment of a firm’s organisational culture and practises with dominant factors that lead to sustainable growth. The combination of organisational culture and strategic or dominant factors that aid growth stimulates innovation.

The competing values framework analyses and identifies four modes of innovation. It also educates us on how to use the tension created by the competition between these factors to stimulate much needed positive change and innovation. It is an applicable way of ensuring growth, development, the implementation and sustenance of innovative ideas and practises. The competing values are represented in this diagram.

Flexibility and discretion
Internal focus and integrationClanAdhocracyExternal focus and differentiation
HierarchyMarket
 Stability and control

From the diagram, one can see there are two dimensions to the study of the competing value framework. According to the map they are delineated as:

  • Horizontal/external and internal influences. This maps the extent to which the organisation deviates inwards or outwards. The left part of the map shows an inclination to internal happenstances and factors within the organisation. Deviation to the right part of the map shows an inclination to external or outside factors, like customers, economic policies, suppliers, and the operating environment. Focusing on internal factors shows the business or strategy is dominant in the environment and is not bothered about external issues. In areas where there is competition and risk from the outside, the focus is more on confronting the external challenges.
  • Vertical/ stability and flexibility. The vertical axis determines whose responsibility it is to make decisions. The lower end of the map shows how control and management interface. The upper end of the map shows how employees have been authorised to use their discretionary powers to decide for themselves. When a business is stable with a good degree of reliability and efficiency, the general stability of the business is not in question. Flexibility becomes important when there is an invasion by external influences. That is when the need to adapt to change becomes a valued and treasured trait.

This framework over time has proven its robustness across the board. It has helped to simplify the approach to behaviour, thought, and organisation as they are associated with human activity.

A combination of these two dimensions will give a quadrant that encompasses all phases and aspects of human thought and organisational behaviour. Each quadrant depicts a unique set of organisational and individual factors. The four core values, as represented by each quadrant, depict opposite assumptions in competition with one another. Each dimension or quadrant emphasizes a core value opposite or in conflict with the other opposite quadrant. Diagonally, the dimensions produce quadrants in conflict or competition with one another.

The map highlights four hierarchies, they are:

  • Hierarchy: the approach to structure and control is traditional and conservative, flowing from a rigid chain of command. It is the oldest way of enforcing organisational control and is still popular in many organisations. In a hierarchy, the processes, protocol, policies, and procedures are clarified, well-defined, and clear. There is a lot of respect for those in positions of power and authority. The leaders in hierarchies keep a close watch on what happens in and around them.
  • Markets: in the market organisation, the power to control is also sought after, though externally, with an eye on the cost of transaction between two parties. Every transaction and relationship in a market organisation is viewed from a market point of view. In the competing values framework, in which the market organisation functions efficiently, value is effortlessly transferred between people and stakeholders with the most infinitesimal cost and delay. The market structure is influenced mainly by what happens externally. They are therefore very competitive.
  • Clan: this is more about flexibility and adaptability. The attention paid to structure and control is not much. The operating environment is freer and allows more independent thinking. The operators here are not under the strict control of any rigid rules or policy. They are motivated by shared ambitions, goals, outcomes, dreams, ethos, and value. The people here act rather autonomously, and the organisation is flat. The people are loyal to one another and their shared aspirations. They are closely knit, like a family. Clan leaders are not authoritative. They are supportive and convivial in their approach.
  • Adhocracy: this involves people with a great deal of invention and innovative thinking. The people here are freer than those under a clan leadership. They operate with superb independence and flexibility

Why is competing value framework necessary?

  • Competing values framework helps to change an organisational structure that is not in tandem with modern best practises.
  • Competing values framework aids in developing the modalities for shared visions and dreams.
  • It helps in starting up innovative initiatives.
  • It is very important in strategic planning.
  • It helps in integrating innovation into a pre-existing process.
  • Competing values framework enhances performance management processes.
  • Competing values framework also helps in enhancing the development of organisational competency.

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