Explaining Compassion Organizing Competence

106 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2006

See all articles by Jane E. Dutton

Jane E. Dutton

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Peter J. Frost

University of British Columbia (UBC)

Jacoba Lilius

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Psychology

Monica Colete Worline

Emory University - Goizueta Business School

Date Written: July 2005

Abstract

In this article we develop a theory to explain how individual compassion becomes socially organized and how the organizing process gains collective competence in its ability to alleviate suffering. The theory is built from an in-depth case study of one organization's response to members who lost their belongings in a fire. The compassion organizing response was highly competent as reflected in the scale, scope, speed, and customization of resources extended in response to the members' suffering. The model theorizes five mechanisms as central to the competence in compassion organizing: 1) contextual enabling of attention, 2) contextual enabling of emotion, and 3) contextual enabling of legitimacy and trust, 4) agents improvising structures, and 5) symbolic enrichment. Together, these mechanisms elaborate a view of how the social architecture, agency, and emergent features of an organizing process create the extraction, generation and coordination of a variety of resources that contribute to compassion organizing competence. We discuss how our model adds to general theories of collective organizing competence.

Keywords: individual compassion, compassion organizing comptetence, collective organizing competence

Suggested Citation

Dutton, Jane and Frost, Peter J. and Lilius, Jacoba and Worline, Monica Colete, Explaining Compassion Organizing Competence (July 2005). Ross School of Business Paper No. 993. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=911274 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.911274

Jane Dutton (Contact Author)

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )

701 Tappan Street
2014 Paton Accounting Center
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1234
United States
734-764-1376 (Phone)

Peter J. Frost

University of British Columbia (UBC) ( email )

2329 West Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia BC V6T 1Z2
Canada

Jacoba Lilius

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor - Department of Psychology ( email )

Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

Monica Colete Worline

Emory University - Goizueta Business School ( email )

1300 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322-2722
United States

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