Explaining Compassion Organizing Competence
106 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2006
Date Written: July 2005
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
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