"who can tell you how to engage in general, becuase as far as I know there has been little work on systematically analysing engagement either qualitatively and quantitaivley"I'm considering literature that addresses different articulations of engagement:
- collaboration and
- employee engagement with work (Saks, 2006, Schaufeli et al., 2006),
- student engagement with learning (Handley et al., 2007, Robinson and Hullinger, 2008, Arbaugh, 2000),
- client engagement with child welfare services (Yatchmenoff, 2005)
- customer engagement with a brand (Mollen, 2010).
However, consultancy practitioner literature advises consultants how to engage to with clients to get and share information. Axelrod (2002) suggested four underlying principles that would produce an engaged organisation:
- widening the circle of involvement through people and ideas,
- connecting people to each other,
- creating communities for action and
- embracing democratic principles.
How does engagement differ from involvement?
Barki et al suggested involvement is a separate construct from participation and refers to a psychological state, although they do not elaborate on what that state might be. For Saks, job involvement relates to self-image, and to how employees perform their jobs (Saks, 2006 p. 602). Axelrod, (2004) states that involvement is “working with others to get things done” thus implying that involvement and engagement may be similar phenomena (Axelrod et al., 2004 p. iv). In conclusion, in the sense that involvement is working with other people, it is highly relevant to engagement.
The term engagement has the sense of 'engagement with' someone, so implies some form of relationship that might require commitment. Commitment may affect sense making and the social structure (Weick, 1995). An organisational context with visibility (behaviour is public), volition (with an element of choice) and irrevocability (behaviour cannot be undone) “should generate stronger commitment” (Weick, 1995 p. 159). Nevertheless, commitment is “also a liability because it reduces flexibility, learning and adaption”. However McCormick, who developed a survey tool to measure the impact that participation in large-group intervention had on attitudes and beliefs of participants, found engagement increased commitment (McCormick, 1999) suggesting engagement leads to commitment. Perhaps we can collect data on commitment as a measure of engagement.
Collaboration may also be related to engagement. Collaboration is what organisations do together and is closely related to cooperation (Huxham, 1993). Cooperation and collaboration both mean “something to do with working together,” (Huxham, 1993 p. 5) which is similar to Axelrod’s involvement being the art of bringing people together (Axelrod, 2001). Huxham uses the concept of “collaborative advantage” (Kanter, 1994) to solve problems together (Huxham and Vangen, 2005). Collaborative advantage, meaning being a good partner, arises from organisations pooling resources and expertise for a common aim, creating synergy. A reason to discard Huxham’s collaborative model is that it focuses on cooperative relationships that have complementary rather than shared goals.
And it depends whether we're researching engagement between individuals or between organisations. If the stakeholders for this research project are individuals, then data from a collaborative model of organisations is not relevant.
Marcum, comparing motivation with engagement, points out that people choose to be engaged. He reviews literature on engagement from learning theory, information management and philosophy, concluding that “An engagement mindset offers a more useful model for cultivating mutually beneficial working relationships with staff and colleagues ... engagement is based on learning and involvement” (Marcum, 1999 p. 46). Marcum’s perspective concurs with Hartwick and Barki’s findings that participation and involvement depend on whether IT system use is mandatory or voluntary (Hartwick and Barki, 1994). Previous discussion explored different constructions of engagement, but did not identify an existing conceptual framework for the phenomenon. We still do not understand the quality of the engagement, what produces it, how and whose engagement leads to effectiveness.
Participation I look at participation in a separate posting because it merits special attention.
We need research that looks at the process of engagement and how interaction between people builds commitment
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