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The Efficiency Paradox in Organization and Management Theory

Schaefer, Stephan LU and Christopher, Wickert (2016) Academy of Management Meeting, 2015 In Academy of Management Proceedings 2015(1).
Abstract
We theoretically discuss a phenomenon that we label “efficiencyism”. Efficiencyism describes a fixation on reified tenets of efficiency without questioning its assumptions and consequences. In organization and management theory efficiency is a foundational concept, which is assumed to be vital for economic success based on the optimization of input-output ratios. Based on the logic of the Jevons Paradox, a concept originating from resource and environmental economics, we challenge the assumptions underlying the notion of efficiency and argue that presumably efficient processes or behaviours can in many cases lead to inefficient outcomes. These “rebound effects” can be observed in a broad array of organizational and managerial contexts.... (More)
We theoretically discuss a phenomenon that we label “efficiencyism”. Efficiencyism describes a fixation on reified tenets of efficiency without questioning its assumptions and consequences. In organization and management theory efficiency is a foundational concept, which is assumed to be vital for economic success based on the optimization of input-output ratios. Based on the logic of the Jevons Paradox, a concept originating from resource and environmental economics, we challenge the assumptions underlying the notion of efficiency and argue that presumably efficient processes or behaviours can in many cases lead to inefficient outcomes. These “rebound effects” can be observed in a broad array of organizational and managerial contexts. Despite their oftentimes unintended and counterintuitive effects, rebound effects and efficiencyism more generally however persist in theory and practice. To explain why this is the case, we develop three enabling conditions of efficiencyism, namely interpretive flexibility, the maximization imperative, and the micro-macro gap. Our framework has theoretical and empirical implications for seeing efficiency in organization and management theory in a new light. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
efficiency, Jevons paradox, rebound effect
in
Academy of Management Proceedings
volume
2015
issue
1
publisher
Academy of Management
conference name
Academy of Management Meeting, 2015
ISSN
0065-0668
DOI
10.5465/AMBPP.2015.10958abstract
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
5c3994da-eb7f-4944-934b-3e8d56797905
date added to LUP
2016-09-13 13:04:37
date last changed
2017-04-26 10:46:28
@misc{5c3994da-eb7f-4944-934b-3e8d56797905,
  abstract     = {We theoretically discuss a phenomenon that we label “efficiencyism”. Efficiencyism describes a fixation on reified tenets of efficiency without questioning its assumptions and consequences. In organization and management theory efficiency is a foundational concept, which is assumed to be vital for economic success based on the optimization of input-output ratios. Based on the logic of the Jevons Paradox, a concept originating from resource and environmental economics, we challenge the assumptions underlying the notion of efficiency and argue that presumably efficient processes or behaviours can in many cases lead to inefficient outcomes. These “rebound effects” can be observed in a broad array of organizational and managerial contexts. Despite their oftentimes unintended and counterintuitive effects, rebound effects and efficiencyism more generally however persist in theory and practice. To explain why this is the case, we develop three enabling conditions of efficiencyism, namely interpretive flexibility, the maximization imperative, and the micro-macro gap. Our framework has theoretical and empirical implications for seeing efficiency in organization and management theory in a new light. },
  articleno    = {10958},
  author       = {Schaefer, Stephan and Christopher, Wickert},
  issn         = {0065-0668},
  keyword      = {efficiency,Jevons paradox,rebound effect},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Conference Abstract},
  number       = {1},
  publisher    = {Academy of Management},
  series       = {Academy of Management Proceedings},
  title        = {The Efficiency Paradox in Organization and Management Theory},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/AMBPP.2015.10958abstract},
  volume       = {2015},
  year         = {2016},
}