Sustaining compassion as central organizational competence

About the Research

In this study, we explore how organizations sustain compassion as a central organizational competence over time. While previous work has primarily focused on actors’ responses to discreet and one-off expressions of peoples’ individual suffering, we suggest that for many organizations conveying compassion is not an optional element, but central to them achieving their organizational goals. Drawing on the case of a reentry organization, we focus on the staff’s daily efforts to proactively convey compassion towards ex-offenders, in order to help them join and remain in the reentry program to ultimately gain employment. Interestingly, we find that the staff utilizes a set of behavioral approaches to convey compassion, which, however, over the course of their casework create challenges for them with individual ex-offenders, hampering their ability and willingness to continue treating them compassionately. This then triggers efforts by reentry staff to rebuild their ability to convey compassion. Based on our analysis we develop theory on how compassion is a much more relational concept than has been previously suggested and propose a more proactive view of compassion in organizational contexts. Given the central aim of actors in our case to help targets, we use our analysis to also make contributions to the literature around helping activities in organizations between help-givers and help-seekers.

About Jan Lodge

Jan Lodge is an Assistant Professor in the Business-Society Management department at the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University. His work uses qualitative data and analysis to study the overarching question of how organizations can work to bring about social change. In this endeavor, he particularly focuses on the topics of negative social evaluations, social innovation, and social movements. Recently, his work has taken him into contexts such as prisons and reentry organizations, social housing organizations, child marriage, and capital punishment. Jan holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge, Judge Business School.

Date: 14 April 2022

Time: 12:00-1:30 pm CEST

Venue: Room A337, emlyon Écully Campus & zoom

Should you want to attend, please register at the link.