The Heller School for Social Policy and Management

Theory of Performance

Structures, RC and OutcomesRelational coordination is a theory with three major propositions

  1. Relationships of shared goals, shared knowledge and mutual respect promote frequent, timely, accurate, problem-solving communication, and vice versa.  Together these seven dimensions form an empirically validated construct called relational coordination.
  2. Relational coordination results in beneficial outcomes for multiple stakeholders when it is strong, and harmful outcomes when it is weak, especially when work is highly interdependent, uncertain and time constrained. See below for specific types of outcomes. Thus far, 89% of empirical findings support this proposition.  
  3. Organizations can design their structures - human resource practices and coordinating mechanisms - to reduce subgoal optimization* and increase systems thinking, thus strengthening relational coordination. See above for specific types of structures. Thus far, 90% of empirical findings support this proposition.

*Subgoal optimization is optimizing the local goal at the expense of the overall goal (March & Simon, 1958. Organizations. New York, NY: McGraw Hill).