Dr Colin Fisher, University College London

Everyone has received help at work that, in actuality, was not very helpful. Yet, organisational researchers have developed theories of helping that fail to account for help that misses its mark. To build theory on how attempts to help go astray, we conducted a qualitative study at a leading design consultancy, using data from daily diaries and weekly interviews from four project teams and a separate sample of critical incident interviews. We use this data to theorise unhelpful help – times in which givers agree to help, but instead deliver something receivers do not value. We argue that unhelpful help emerges through two mutually reinforcing processes. The first is shaping help content, in which givers and receivers use conflicting logics to arrive at the nature and extent of the assistance. The second is managing identity concerns, in which givers use help to affirm their own identities, while receivers seek to minimise the extent to which help threatens their identities. These processes are interrelated – tactics used to manage identity concerns impede efforts to shape help content. Moreover, the tacit nature of helpfulness evaluations makes it difficult for parties to correct the process as it unfolds. These factors perpetuated unhelpful help, leading unhelpful helping processes to erode receivers’ relationships with givers and the organisation. We conclude by discussing how these findings contribute to theory on helping, prosocial behaviour, and interpersonal coordination in organisations.

Speaker bio

Colin M. Fisher is an associate professor of Organisational Behaviour at University College London. His research deals with leading, helping, and coaching teams and individuals in situations requiring collective creativity, improvisation, and effective decision-making, with a focus on how temporal issues (for example, timing, rhythm, development over time) shape group processes and outcomes. His research has been published in leading journals, such as Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Academy of Management Perspectives, Small Group Research, and Harvard Business Review. Colin received his PhD in Organisational Behaviour from Harvard University. In his work as a professional jazz trumpet player, Colin was a long-time member of the Grammy-nominated Either/Orchestra, with whom he toured the US, Europe, and Africa and recorded several critically acclaimed albums.

Address

Trumpington St
Cambridge
CB2 1AG
United Kingdom

Date & time

Date: 11 October 2019
Start Time: 12:00
End Time: 13:30

Audience

Open to: Members of the University of Cambridge

Category:

 

« Back to all events

Event location


Trumpington St
Cambridge
CB2 1AG
United Kingdom

Event timings

Date: 11 October 2019
Start Time: 12:00
End Time: 13:30