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How Employees and Organizations Manage Uncertainty: Norms, Implications, and Future Research
Unformatted Document Text:  11 tended to result in more desirable employee experiences than did the Status Quo and Stifling climates. For example, employees in the Dynamic (M = 6.05) and Unsettling (M = 5.92) climates expressed greater job satisfaction on a single-item (strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (7) scale) than those in the Status Quo (M = 5.17) and Stifling (M = 5.17) climates, F (3, 1042) = 30.85, p <.000. The survey includes similar single-item scales to measure employee commitment to their organization, whether they identify with organizational values and their degree of cynicism about their organization. As seen in Tables 2 and 3, all these items fit a similar pattern. Employees in the Dynamic and Unsettling climates are more committed to their organizations, F(3, 1042) = 30.83, p < .000; identify more strongly with their organizations, F (3, 1042) = 42.75, p < .000; and are less cynical, F (3, 1042) = 47.98, p < .000, than their counterparts in the Status Quo and Stifling climates. Some intriguing trends emerged around two other single-item scales. In response to the item, “I’m a highly productive member of my organization,” employees in the Dynamic (M = 6.41) climate expressed a greater degree of agreement than those in the Unsettling (M = 6.06), Status Quo (M = 6.04) and Stifling (M = 6.12) climates, F (3, 1042) = 9.20, p < .000. Another survey item stated “Many employees in my organization feel overwhelmed by the degree of change”. In this case, employees in the Dynamic (M = 3.99) and Unsettling (M = 4.05) climates expressed a lesser degree of agreement than those in the Status Quo (M = 4.53) and Stifling (M = 4.82) climates, F (3, 1042) = 14.70, p < .000. These findings suggest that employees in the Dynamic climate believe they are more productive than those in other climates, and employees in the Dynamic and Unsettling climates believe organizational members are better equipped to manage change than those in the Status Quo or Stifling climates. Limitations All surveys that use perceptual data are subject to limitations. This is particularly true of self-reports about productivity. Supervisors, for instance, might have very different views of the workers’ productivity. Also while the database is large, males and senior executives may be underrepresented. Even though the single-item scales are strongly correlated with more comprehensive measures, some scholars may question their use to measure “end-product” variables. Despite these limitations, the analyses suggest some intriguing implications worthy of further discussion and exploration. Discussion and Future Research The Uncertainty Management Matrix juxtaposes the uncertainty management strategies of employees and their organizations, resulting in four distinct climates. The Working Climate Survey allows researchers and practitioners to objectively classify an employee’s working experience into one of the four climates. The analyses suggest a number of important implications reviewed below. First, the data suggest that an organization’s management of uncertainty is more important than individual employee uncertainty coping skills. Organizations that embrace uncertainty tend to foster more employee commitment, greater job satisfaction, and less cynicism than those that avoid or suppress uncertainty (see Tables 2 and 3). This pattern emerged regardless of how employees rated their own uncertainty management skills. Specifically, the more positive

Authors: Williams, M.. and Clampitt, Phillip.
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11
tended to result in more desirable employee experiences than did the Status Quo and Stifling
climates. For example, employees in the Dynamic (M = 6.05) and Unsettling (M = 5.92) climates
expressed greater job satisfaction on a single-item (strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (7)
scale) than those in the Status Quo (M = 5.17) and Stifling (M = 5.17) climates, F (3, 1042) =
30.85, p <.000. The survey includes similar single-item scales to measure employee commitment
to their organization, whether they identify with organizational values and their degree of
cynicism about their organization. As seen in Tables 2 and 3, all these items fit a similar pattern.
Employees in the Dynamic and Unsettling climates are more committed to their organizations, F
(3, 1042) = 30.83, p < .000; identify more strongly with their organizations, F (3, 1042) = 42.75,
p < .000; and are less cynical, F (3, 1042) = 47.98, p < .000, than their counterparts in the Status
Quo and Stifling climates.

Some intriguing trends emerged around two other single-item scales. In response to the item,
“I’m a highly productive member of my organization,” employees in the Dynamic (M = 6.41)
climate expressed a greater degree of agreement than those in the Unsettling (M = 6.06), Status
Quo (M = 6.04) and Stifling (M = 6.12) climates, F (3, 1042) = 9.20, p < .000. Another survey
item stated “Many employees in my organization feel overwhelmed by the degree of change”. In
this case, employees in the Dynamic (M = 3.99) and Unsettling (M = 4.05) climates expressed a
lesser degree of agreement than those in the Status Quo (M = 4.53) and Stifling (M = 4.82)
climates, F (3, 1042) = 14.70, p < .000. These findings suggest that employees in the Dynamic
climate believe they are more productive than those in other climates, and employees in the
Dynamic and Unsettling climates believe organizational members are better equipped to manage
change than those in the Status Quo or Stifling climates.
Limitations
All surveys that use perceptual data are subject to limitations. This is particularly true of self-
reports about productivity. Supervisors, for instance, might have very different views of the
workers’ productivity. Also while the database is large, males and senior executives may be
underrepresented. Even though the single-item scales are strongly correlated with more
comprehensive measures, some scholars may question their use to measure “end-product”
variables. Despite these limitations, the analyses suggest some intriguing implications worthy of
further discussion and exploration.
Discussion and Future Research
The Uncertainty Management Matrix juxtaposes the uncertainty management strategies of
employees and their organizations, resulting in four distinct climates. The Working Climate
Survey
allows researchers and practitioners to objectively classify an employee’s working
experience into one of the four climates. The analyses suggest a number of important
implications reviewed below.

First, the data suggest that an organization’s management of uncertainty is more important than
individual employee uncertainty coping skills.
Organizations that embrace uncertainty tend to
foster more employee commitment, greater job satisfaction, and less cynicism than those that
avoid or suppress uncertainty (see Tables 2 and 3). This pattern emerged regardless of how
employees rated their own uncertainty management skills. Specifically, the more positive


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