Prolegomenon to the study of the concepts of maturity and maturity model : from Black Horse to White Knight?

Bredillet, Christophe, Hatcher, Caroline A., & Tywoniak, Stephane (2013) Prolegomenon to the study of the concepts of maturity and maturity model : from Black Horse to White Knight? In Bridging Continents, Cultures and Worldviews, EGOS, Montreal, Canada.

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This paper takes its root in a trivial observation: management approaches are unable to provide relevant guidelines to cope with uncertainty, and trust of our modern worlds. Thus, managers are looking for reducing uncertainty through information’s supported decision-making, sustained by ex-ante rationalization. They strive to achieve best possible solution, stability, predictability, and control of “future”. Hence, they turn to a plethora of “prescriptive panaceas”, and “management fads” to bring simple solutions through best practices. However, these solutions are ineffective. They address only one part of a system (e.g. an organization) instead of the whole. They miss the interactions and interdependencies with other parts leading to “suboptimization”. Further classical cause-effects investigations and researches are not very helpful to this regard.

Where do we go from there? In this conversation, we want to challenge the assumptions supporting the traditional management approaches and shed some lights on the problem of management discourse fad using the concept of maturity and maturity models in the context of temporary organizations as support for reflexion. Global economy is characterized by use and development of standards and compliance to standards as a practice is said to enable better decision-making by managers in uncertainty, control complexity, and higher performance. Amongst the plethora of standards, organizational maturity and maturity models hold a specific place due to general belief in organizational performance as dependent variable of (business) processes continuous improvement, grounded on a kind of evolutionary metaphor.

Our intention is neither to offer a new “evidence based management fad” for practitioners, nor to suggest research gap to scholars. Rather, we want to open an assumption-challenging conversation with regards to main stream approaches (neo-classical economics and organization theory), turning “our eyes away from the blinding light of eternal certitude towards the refracted world of turbid finitude” (Long, 2002, p. 44) generating what Bernstein has named “Cartesian Anxiety” (Bernstein, 1983, p. 18), and revisit the conceptualization of maturity and maturity models. We rely on conventions theory and a systemic-discursive perspective. These two lenses have both information & communication and self-producing systems as common threads. Furthermore the narrative approach is well suited to explore complex way of thinking about organizational phenomena as complex systems. This approach is relevant with our object of curiosity, i.e. the concept of maturity and maturity models, as maturity models (as standards) are discourses and systems of regulations. The main contribution of this conversation is that we suggest moving from a neo-classical “theory of the game” aiming at making the complex world simpler in playing the game, to a “theory of the rules of the game”, aiming at influencing and challenging the rules of the game constitutive of maturity models – conventions, governing systems – making compatible individual calculation and social context, and possible the coordination of relationships and cooperation between agents with or potentially divergent interests and values. A second contribution is the reconceptualization of maturity as structural coupling between conventions, rather than as an independent variable leading to organizational performance.

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ID Code: 61689
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: maturity, maturity model, Temporary and Project-Based Organizing, convention theory, systemic-discursive perspective, organization theory, neo-classical economics
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Civil Engineering & Built Environment
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Science & Engineering Faculty
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 [please consult the author]
Deposited On: 05 Aug 2013 22:41
Last Modified: 07 Aug 2013 04:27

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