November 16, 2015

4:30 PM - 5:30 PM, Reception Immediately Following

The Colloquium, 6th Floor, Ross Building, Stephen M. Ross School of Business


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Session Description: Organizations are fundamentally patterns of interrelating, reinforced by structures and work processes. It’s no wonder they are hard to change. In this presentation, Brandeis University Professor Jody Hoffer Gittell will introduce relational coordination as a tool for both research and practice. She will share live case studies illustrating how organizations use relational coordination principles and measures as tools for change, and then conclude with a Relational Model for Organizational Change.

Jody Hoffer Gittell, PhD, is a professor at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management, and a leading expert on relational coordination and organizational performance. She founded the Relational Coordination Research Collaborative, bringing scholars and practitioners together to help organizations build relational coordination for high performance. She co-founded a university spinoff called Relational Coordination Analytics Inc., offering measurement and intervention support to organizations seeking to improve their performance, and serves as its Chief Scientific Officer.

Gittell’s research explores how workers, leaders, and customers contribute to quality and efficiency outcomes through their coordination with each other. She has developed a theory of relational coordination, proposing that highly interdependent work is most effectively coordinated through relationships of shared goals, shared knowledge, and mutual respect supported by frequent, timely, accurate, and problem-solving rather than blaming communication. Research demonstrates that relational coordination is associated with a wide range of performance outcomes, and that organizations can support it through the design of their work systems. The RC survey, a validated instrument that is widely used for research as well as practice, assesses dynamics among participants and opens up dialogues to foster fundamental organizational change.

In The Southwest Airlines Way: Using the Power of Relationships to Achieve High Performance (McGraw-Hill), and in High Performance Healthcare: Using the Power of Relationships to Achieve Quality, Efficiency and Resilience (McGraw-Hill), Gittell describes how relational coordination drives performance in airlines and in healthcare, and how organizations support – or undermine – its development. In Up In the Air: How the Airlines Can Improve Performance by Engaging Their Employees (Cornell University Press), co-authored with Bamber, Kochan and von Nordenflycht, she analyzes the transformation of the global airline industry in response to low cost competition. Sociology of Organizations: Structures and Relationships (Sage Publications) brings together classic and new authors to show how structures and relationships enable organizations to address their most basic challenges. Her newest book, Relational Coordination: Transforming Relationships for High Performance (Stanford University Press) demonstrates how relational, work process, and structural interventions work together synergistically to enable organizations to achieve sustainable systemic change.

Gittell has published her research in scientific journals such as Academy of Management Review, Organization Science, Management Science, Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Journal of Service Research, Journal of Management Studies, Human Resource Management, Human Resource Management Journal, International Journal of Human Resource Management, Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Harvard Business Review, California Management Review, Medical Care, Health Services Research, Health Care Management Review, Journal of Nursing Management, and Journal of Early Childhood Research.

Gittell has won a Best Book Award from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a Best Paper award from the Human Resource Division of the Academy of Management, the Douglas McGregor Memorial Award for Best Paper of the Year in the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, and an Honorable Mention for the Douglas McGregor Memorial Award for Best Paper on Organizational Change. She was selected Outstanding Young Scholar of the Year by the Labor and Employment Relations Association.

Gittell received her PhD from the MIT Sloan School of Management, her MA from The New School and her BA from Reed College, and taught for six years at the Harvard Business School before joining the faculty of Brandeis University. She has served as Chair of the Board for Families First Health and Support Center, as MBA Program Director at the Brandeis Heller School, and as Acting Director of the MIT Leadership Center. She now serves on the boards of the Labor and Employment Relations Association and the Endowment for Health, and on the editorial board for the Academy of Management Review. She lives in Portsmouth, New Hampshire with her husband Ross and their daughters Rose and Grace.

Free and open to the public.

The Center for Positive Organizations thanks Diane and Paul Jones (Ross School of Business MBA 1975), for their generous gift in support of the 2015-2016 Positive Links Speaker Series.