Reconceptualising Organisational Role Theory for contemporary organisational contexts
Wickham, MD and Parker, M, Reconceptualising Organisational Role Theory for contemporary organisational contexts, Journal of Managerial Psychology, 22, (5) pp. 440-464. ISSN 0268-3946 (2007) [Refereed Article]
Purpose – This research seeks to review extant organisational role theory (ORT) literature, and to
identify issues that limit its usefulness to contemporary academics and practitioners alike.
Design/methodology/approach – A review of ORT literature was conducted in light of the issues
surrounding the effective implementation of HR policies in the workplace. The paper was based on a
review of the intersection between ORT and contemporary HR management, and explored using
primary survey and semi-structured interview data.
Findings – It was found that three assumptions underpinning classical ORT are inadequate to
account for the array of roles enacted by employees and the manner in which they impact on
working-life. The research suggests that ORT needs to incorporate the key themes of "multi-faceted
employee", "employer recognition/facilitation" and "compartmentalisation" into its assumptions in
order to account for contemporary HRM issues.
Research limitations/implications – This research is only exploratory in nature, and thus
requires its findings to be verified in larger sample sizes, and amongst respondents from different
cultures and industry categories.
Practical implications – This research has practical implications for HR managers wishing to
employ effective role-taking/WLB policies in their workplace. Current WLB issues are well established
in the literature, and the reconceptualisation of ORT provides some insight into what might constitute
the tenets of an effective WLB policy regime.
Originality/value – This paper provides an exploration of the contemporary HRM issues that need
to be included in a reconceptualisation of ORT. This research would be of value to both academics
(reconceptualising classical ORT) and practitioners (who would observe specific implications for the
formulation of effective HR policies in the workplace).
Human resourcemanagement,Work identity, Social roles,Role conflict,Employee behaviour,Organizational theory