Recommended Books

If you’re a partner and have a book to add to this page, please contact Tanya Allain at tallain@brandeis.edu.
Cover of Bo Vestergaard's book

Relational Coordination in Practice – Methods for Better Decisions and Coordination – Bo Vestergaard

How can you help groups make better decisions and act coordinated? Relational Coordination in Practice describes concrete methods and provides step-by-step recipes and variants of methods.

The theoretical foundation is a new linking of the research in relational coordination, psychological safety and collective intelligence. It creates a clear practical-theoretical framework to facilitate groups to succeed with a complex common task.

The book is relevant for

  • Managers, project managers, coordinators and consultants who help groups succeed when the joint task is characterized by unpredictability and mutual interdependence
  • Groups and teams, who would like to know what behavior makes it likely that they can jointly make smart decisions and act coordinated. And what common behavior the participants should minimize or completely avoid
  • Management students who want to know how the research insights from relational coordination, psychological safety and collective intelligence can be transformed into valuable practice.

“Vestergaard has accomplished exactly what he hoped to accomplish with this book – to make relational coordination highly accessible to people who must coordinate their work every day with others. It is full of actionable theory and effective methods.

This book will help you to use the principles of relational coordination to lead effective meetings for the benefit of your clients. It is absolutely true that research can make a real-world impact when people know how to use it. As a partner in the Relational Coordination Research Collaborative, Vestergaard has done his part with this book to turn research into action!” - Jody Hoffer Gittell, Professor, Brandeis University, Heller School, Executive Director, Relational Coordination Research Collaborative

Humble Leadership, Schein & Schein

Humble Leadership – Edgar H. Schein and Peter A. Schein

Bestselling author and father of organizational behavior, Edgar Schein and Peter Schein trail-blaze with a creative perspective on leadership that encourages vulnerability and empathy as a form of strength.

The more traditional form of leadership that is based on immobile hierarchies is growing increasingly outdated and ineffective. Without the ability to actually communicate with their peers, leaders become alienated from their followers and productivity and quality are sacrificed. Authors Edgar Schein and Peter Schein recognize this reality and call for a reimagined form of leadership that coincides with emerging trends of relationship building, complex group work, and diverse workforces. Gaining a deeper understanding of the constantly evolving complexities of interpersonal, group and even intergroup relationships requires shifting our focus towards the process of group dynamics and collaboration. The humble leadership paradigm stresses the importance of studying how things are being done through collaboration and humility. This space of collaboration is often where invention and brand-new ways of getting things done are created, rather than in the tunnel vision of new ideas of products, markets, or production methods. The future of leadership is dependent on working relationships that are trusting and open. Humble leaders don’t shy away from human connection in the workplace but rather see it as an opportunity for growth and success.

Challenging Perspectives, Fitzgerald and McDermott

Challenging Perspectives on Organizational Change in Health Care – Louise Fitzgerald and Aoife McDermott

This volume provides theory and research on organizational change and predominantly features the application of these ideas to the health care domain, broadly defined. It addresses enduring issues in advancing to an effective health care system. The aim of this book is to offer an accessible and readable text aimed at provoking thought and questioning, and aiding creativity. It proffers arguments and ideas which are firmly based in empirical data and evidence, so that the reader may make informed personal evaluations.

This book is designed to furnish a comprehensive theoretical basis for understanding organizational change in health care, as well as selected core issues of contemporary and future importance to the provision of effective care within sustainable systems. A series of coherent themes are addressed throughout the book from differing perspectives. However, every chapter has been written to stand alone and be read independently. Each offers resources relevant to its focal topic, in the form of references, case studies and critique.

Setting out a future research agenda, the book will be vital reading for organizational change researchers and practitioners in the healthcare industry.

Transforming Relationships for High Performance: The Power of Relational Coordination – Jody Hoffer Gittell

Whether from customers, supply-chain partners, policymakers, or regulators, organizations in virtually every industry are facing calls to do more with less. They are feeling compelled to provide higher-quality outcomes, more rapidly, at a lower cost.

This book offers a road-tested approach for delivering these outcomes through positive organizational change. Its message comes just in time, for too many companies have gone the way of low-road strategies, such as cutting pay and perks, and working harder not smarter. Drawing on her path-breaking research, Jody Hoffer Gittell reveals that high performance is fundamentally relational, rooted in both human and social capital.

Based on this insight, she provides a unique model that will help companies to build meaningful relationships among colleagues, develop smarter work processes, and design organizational structures fit for today’s pressure test. By following four organizations on their change journeys, she illustrates how “relational coordination” unfolds in real-world settings. Tools for change guide readers as they learn how to implement this new model in their own workplaces.

Bridging Silos, Vestergaard

Bridging Silos – Leadership Processes that Create Coherence/Flow for Patients, Citizens and Customers – Bo Vestergaard

Silos must not be torn down. Silos can do something good: build solid and deep professionalism. This is what we need as citizens and patients. We should build instead a “bridge” between the silos in the form of new workflows, so citizens get the right help when THEY are ready –  not only when the organization is ready. This enhances the quality of citizens and reduces the total resource requirements of the organization.

Practical and research-based, the book shows: 1) how bridging solves the quality and efficiency paradox in the public sector, and 2) the specific management processes that have distinguished themselves with an unusually high success.

Leading Change in Healthcare, Suchman et al.

Leading Change in Healthcare: Transforming Organizations Using Complexity, Positive Psychology and Relationship-Centered Care – Tony Suchman, David J. Sluyter, Penelope R. Williamson

The challenge of transforming organizational culture is at the heart of many key movements in contemporary healthcare, and understanding culture change has become a core leadership competency. However, much current practice is based on antiquated and psychologically unsophisticated theories, leaving leaders inadequately prepared for the complex task of implementing change. Leading Change in Healthcare presents relationship-centered administration, an effective new evidence-based alternative to traditional culture change methodologies. It integrates fresh insights and methods from complexity science, positive psychology and relationship-centered care, enabling a more spontaneous and reflective approach to change management. This fosters greater organizational awareness and real participation, improved productivity and creativity, as well as staff recruitment and retention. Case studies drawn from primary care, hospitals, long-term care, professional education, international NGOs and other settings, rather than emphasizing the end results, are demonstrations of how to apply relationship-centered administration in everyday practice. Leading Change Healthcare is a key resource for all practitioners, students and teachers of healthcare management, medical educators, and leaders in all areas of healthcare provision.

Sociology of Organizations, Godwyn & Gittell

Sociology of Organizations: Structures and Relationships – Mary Godwyn and Jody Hoffer Gittell

“What a great collection! By adding Follett to the classics and including contemporary organizational issues like diversity and new technology, Godwyn and Gittell provide for students and professionals a nuanced and compelling insight into organizational life. In addition, their general and section introductions wonderfully interweave a substantive and theoretical web across all these topics. Sociology of Organizations is an important book that transcends simplistic understandings of bureaucracy and individualistic rational theories of action. Its emphasis on a relational perspective highlights the role of people and their interactions in understanding organizations. Altogether a significant new look at key issues in modern society.”  – Lotte Bailyn, MIT Sloan School of Management

“Sociology of Organizations is a far-reaching collection of classics and contemporary studies, insightfully organized around competing frameworks that spring to life in the capable hands of Professors Godwyn and Gittell. More comprehensive than the usual textbook, it not only builds on the past but also sheds light on some of the most pressing problems facing organizations today: new media, diversity and inclusion, and workforce engagement. This valuable book should reach a wide audience.”  – Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Harvard Business School

Sociology of Organizations: Structures and Relationships masterfully weaves together classic and current texts to bring to life the most pressing modern day issues that organizations face, from managing diversity within organizations to how the latest technologies, such as social media, are reshaping the boundaries of organizations. This extremely well thought out and unique book includes penetrating and immensely readable syntheses throughout, clarifying distinct theoretical lenses and creating a rich understanding of organizations. By bringing to the fore the relational organizational form, which traces back to Mary Parker Follett, this book provides a compelling counterpoint to purely bureaucratic analyses and thereby provides a way to understand the direction of the most innovative and cutting edge contemporary organizations. This highly engaging and original book is a must read for anyone interested in understanding modern organizations.”  – Ofer Sharone

High Performance Healthcare, Gittell

High Performance Healthcare: Using the Power of Relationships to Achieve Quality, Efficiency and Resilience – Jody Hoffer Gittell

In her groundbreaking book The Southwest Airlines Way, Jody Hoffer Gittell revealed the management secrets of the company Fortune magazine called “the most successful airline in history.” Now, the bestselling author explains how to apply those same principles in one of our nation’s largest, most important, and increasingly complex industries. High Performance Healthcare explains the critical concept of “relational coordination” — coordinating work through shared goals, shared knowledge, and mutual respect.

Because of the way healthcare is organized, weak links exist throughout the chain of communication. Gittell clearly demonstrates that relational coordination strengthens those weak links, enabling providers to deliver high quality, efficient care to their patients. Using Gittell’s innovative management methods, you will improve quality, maximize efficiency, and compete more effectively.

High Performance Healthcare walks you step by step through the process of:

  • Identifying weak areas of relational coordination within your organization
  • Transforming work practices that are creating barriers to relational coordination
  • Building a high performance work system to foster consistent relational coordination across all disciplines

The book includes case studies illustrating how some healthcare organizations are already transforming themselves using Gittell’s proven tools. It concludes by identifying industry-level obstacles to high performance healthcare and showing how individual organizations and their leaders can support sweeping change at the highest levels.

Policy changes and increased access to care will not alone answer the healthcare industry’s problems. Timely, accurate, problem-solving communication that crosses all organizational boundaries is a powerful response to business as usual. High Performance Healthcare explains exactly how to achieve this crucial dynamic, providing a long-awaited cure to an industry in crisis.

Up in the Air, Bamber, Gittell, et al.

Up In the Air: How Airlines Can Improve Performance by Engaging Their Employees – Greg J. Bamber, Jody Hoffer Gittell, Thomas A. Kochan, Andrew Von Nordenflycht

When both an industry’s workers and its customers report high and rising frustration with the way they are being treated, something is fundamentally wrong. In response to these conditions, many of the world’s airlines have made ever-deeper cuts in services and their workforces. Is it too much to expect airlines, or any other enterprise, to provide a fair return to investors, high-quality reliable service to their customers, and good jobs for their employees?

Measured against these three expectations, the airline industry is failing. In the first five years of the twenty-first century alone, U.S. airlines lost a total of $30 billion while shedding 100,000 jobs, forcing the remaining workers to give up over $15 billion in wages and benefits. Combined with plummeting employee morale, shortages of air traffic controllers, and increased congestion and flight delays, a total collapse of the industry may be coming. Is this state of affairs inevitable? Or is it possible to design a more sustainable, less volatile industry that better balances the objectives of customers, investors, employees, and the wider society? Does deregulation imply total abrogation of government’s responsibility to oversee an industry showing the clear signs of deterioration and increasing risk of a pending crisis?

Greg J. Bamber, Jody Hoffer Gittell, Thomas A. Kochan, and Andrew von Nordenflycht explore such questions in a well-informed and engaging way, using a mix of quantitative evidence and qualitative studies of airlines from North America, Asia, Australia, and Europe. Up in the Air provides clear and realistic strategies for achieving a better, more equitable balance among the interests of customers, employees, and shareholders. Specifically, the authors recommend that firms learn from the innovations of companies like Southwest and Continental Airlines in order to build a positive workplace culture that fosters coordination and commitment to high-quality service, labor relations policies that avoid long drawn-out conflicts in negotiating new agreements, and business strategies that can sustain investor, employee, and customer support through the ups and downs of business cycles.

The Southwest Airlines Way, Gittell

The Southwest Airlines Way: Using the Power of Relationships to Achieve High Performance – Jody Hoffer Gittell

In an industry with losses in the billions, Southwest Airlines has an unbroken string of 31 consecutive years of profitability. The Southwest Airlines Way examines how the company uses high-performance relationships to create enormous competitive advantage in motivation, teamwork, and coordination among employees. It then goes further to show how any company can foster these powerful cooperative relationships and explains how to: lead with credibility and caring, invest in frontline leaders, hire and train for relational competence, use conflicts to build relationships, make unions its partners, not its adversaries and build relationships with its suppliers.

RCRC Logo