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Author Levesque, Laurie L
Title Role creation processes in start-up firms
book jacket
Descript 238 p
Note Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 63-01, Section: A, page: 0271
Co-Chairs: Laurie Weingart; Denise Rousseau
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Carnegie Mellon University, 2001
Organizational newcomers learn about their work roles from the expectations held by others. Little research of this issue has been conducted in the context of small firms, specifically start-up companies where roles often do not exist before employees are hired and where the social and organizational structures are still developing. This dissertation presents three related studies that collectively illuminate role creation and evolution issues fundamental to organizational growth and survival
The first study was qualitative and examined how founders and employees in software start-up firms came to understand and develop their own roles. Thematic analyses suggested that new roles evolved informally as employees figured out what work needed to be done, volunteered for tasks, and expanded vertical coverage of responsibilities. Role evolution occurred by buffering, shifting responsibilities, delegating, and influencing others. Radical role-change was also possible
For the 2nd and 3rd studies both qualitative and quantitative data were collected. Interviews were conducted with 40 founders/CEOs and 36 employees from mostly small (fewer than 100 employees) software companies and e-commerce/web-development firms. Surveys were completed by 306 employees and also by 123 role set members. Reflexive, unidirectional, and mutual adjustment role creation behaviors (RCBs) were determined to be separate constructs. The findings look at outside influences on role creation within the firm, the efforts of co-workers, subordinates, and supervisors to shape an employee's role, and the employee's own behavior and motivations used to develop and evolve a work role. Newness of the role and perceptions of its flexibility best predicted RCBs. Person job fit was sometimes a factor, however clarity of the job was unrelated to RCBs. Work roles evolved through aggregation, disaggregation, and migration
This dissertation's contributions include a fundamental understanding of how incumbents and their role sets are integral in creating and shaping work roles, how these efforts are related to perceptions of the role and situation, and how new employees in start-up firms engaged in sense-making to better understand their roles. Role creation behaviors were introduced and empirically tested, and the concept of newness of role was offered as an important characteristic for studying RCBs
School code: 0041
Host Item Dissertation Abstracts International 63-01A
Subject Business Administration, Management
Sociology, Industrial and Labor Relations
Alt Author Carnegie Mellon University
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