Jun 18, 2018
category: Management


Mobility refers to the various patterns of inter- and intra-organizational transitions over the course of work life of an individual. As organizational restructuring and lay-offs are very popular nowadays, it unsurprising that employees today recognize that lifelong job security might be realistic goal and, as a result, prepare to become mobile in terms of work. In addition, individuals have become more self-directed concerning obtaining various work experiences and knowledge across organizations and job position in order to develop their skills. However, as a social innovation, the increased recognition of mobility has several effects on organizational behavior. Social innovation comprises of various, ambitious, new ideas and models for meeting social challenges. Consequently, employees are using mobility to meet social challenges in their organization. Since social innovation is concerned about transforming institutions, approaches and systems in fundamental, mobility, as part of it, has fundamental impacts on organizational behavior. Current paper discusses the influences of mobility, as a social innovation, on aspects of organizational behavior.

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How Does Mobility Affect All Theme’s / Aspects


Individuals frequently have varying preferences in relation to job mobility. For instance, people frequently give high preference to mobility options involving promotions and show resistance to mobility options involving downward move (Becker-Ritterspach & Dörrenbächer, 2011). Career scholars unfortunately examine the non-occurrence or occurrence of a certain type of job mobility and less often investigate why one form of job mobility occurred instead of others. The impacts of mobility on individuals in an organization are diverse. Becker-Ritterspach & Dörrenbächer (2011) argued that upward mobility in an organization continues compelling employees to undertake career development programs. A significant number of organizations, in the European Union, promote employees based on their merit. Career development programs improve the chances of an employee moving upward the corporate ladder. It has intensified the competition for high positions in organization, which implies that the organization benefits from highly qualified personnel (Chalkiti, 2012).


Groups are formed based on attachment between employees. Chalkiti (2012) defined attachment as the likelihood of humans to make strong bonds to particular people, which results in well-bonded employee groups. The styles of attachments developed during childhood frequently continue being important throughout one’s life and affect one’s emotions, behavior and perceptions (Lam, Ng, & Feldman, 2012). In an organization, individuals can be categorized into four different styles based on two dimensions, which are others-view and self-view. Individuals with positive self-view and positive others-view have secure attachment styles in groups. On the other hand, those with positive self-view and negative others-view have dismissing attachment styles (Kont & Jantson, 2013).

Mobility in organizations has caused employees to develop secure attachment styles in groups. According to Kont & Jantson (2013), such individuals can experience internal-upward job mobility. Lam, Ng, & Feldman (2012) stated that employees with secure group attachment styles are frequently more committed to work and productive than others. As a result, such employees can be candidates of career sponsorship. Their tendency to have a positive view of others might evoke emotional attachment, which, in turn, might increase manager’s evaluation of their promotability. Owing to such success at teamwork, individuals with secure group attachment styles might be more confident in their competence to advance internally.


With respect to organizational behavior, Kont & Jantson (2013) defined motivation as psychological factors that induce workers to pursue work-related goals and tasks. The effects of mobility have not spared the way organizations motivate their employees. Mobility has contributed to the increased use of motivation-oriented policies, such as education and training. Due to the fact that employees are looking for all possibilities to improve their positions in corporation, organizations have aligned their motivation policies to meet employees’ career development needs. For instance, organizational studies have frequently reported education and training as factors determining occupational mobility. Occupational mobility can take two forms, which include vertical and horizontal mobility. Verbruggen (2012) defined horizontal mobility as the movement of labor from one occupation to another in the same grade or level. On the other hand, vertical mobility refers to the movement of an employee from a lower grade to higher status. Organizations have recognized the benefits of targeting such factors in their employee motivation program. According to Webster & Beehr (2013), giving employees an opportunity to develop their skills has been found to motivate employees. Employees with diverse skills and deep knowledge concerning a specific field are likely to experience horizontal or vertical labor mobility in the organization.


Collaboration refers to the action of working together with another individual in order to reach positive results. According to Webster & Beehr (2013), collaboration is at the core of organizational success. Organizations comprise of individuals, teams, groups and departments working collectively and collaborating in order to achieve common organizational goals. As an aspect of organizational behavior, collaboration is bound to be affected by labor mobility in the organization. Lam, Ng, & Feldman (2012) argued that labor mobility has negatively affected collaboration. Since every individual in the organization strives to get higher position, employees have focused more on developing and improving their individual skills, which reduces the chances of collaboration (Becker-Ritterspach & Dörrenbächer, 2011). According to Becker-Ritterspach & Dörrenbächer (2011), beneficial collaboration takes place when the parties involved engage in constant communication. Since every employee is in the competition of getting the highest organizational position possible, he or she is less likely to share ideas and collaborate; it is what Lam, Ng, & Feldman (2012) referred to as every-one-for-himself scenario. As such, some employees view collaboration as giving the opponent a chance to show himself from a better side. Consequently, from the perspective of collaboration, Lam, Ng, & Feldman (2012) argued that competition might not be good despite resulting in highly qualified members of the organization.


Generally, communication refers to the purposeful action of exchanging information and meaning between the participants. In organizational studies, communication encompasses the way in which organization gives employees and the public information concerning its objectives (Lam, Ng, & Feldman, 2012). Elements of effective communication include the message, channel, destination and source. Essentially, organization communication involves the exchange of organizational mission, vision and aims to the employees. Certain aspects of organizational communication might be affected by labor mobility. As employees become mobile in the organization, they might change their horizontal and vertical position in the organizational structure (Becker-Ritterspach & Dörrenbächer, 2011). Consequently, the targets for such messages also change. For instance, to an employee who graduates to a departmental head, the addressing in the communication might change. In addition, the channels of communication are also vulnerable to change as an individual undergoes upward mobility in the organization. For typical employees, channel of communication might not guarantee confidentiality as in case of executives who hold business secrets (Becker-Ritterspach & Dörrenbächer, 2011). As one undertakes upward mobility, the message might change. For instance, the subordinates, unlike the managers, are likely to receive instructional messages and appraisals from the management. On the other hand, managers receive complaints and feedback from employees.


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Leadership refers to the act of offering guidance to people in order to achieve a common objective; the position or state of being a leader (Webster & Beehr, 2013). Leaders assist themselves and others in doing the right things. There are different leadership styles: autocratic leadership, democratic leadership, laissez leadership and transformational leadership. In autocratic leadership, the leader makes decision devoid of making consultations with their team members even if their input would be useful (Webster & Beehr, 2013). In democratic leadership, the leaders make final decision after consulting their team members. In laissez faire, leaders equip their team members with much freedom of how they set deadlines and of how they perform their duties. Some of such styles accommodate mobility in the organizations, whereas others can be viewed to suppress employee mobility.

Organizational Structure and Culture

Organizational structure refers to the implicit and explicit institutional policies and rules offering a structure where responsibilities and roles are delegated, controlled and coordinated. Chalkiti (2012) also defined it as a system utilized in defining the hierarchy within the organization. On the other hand, organizational culture refers to the behavior of individuals in the organization and the meaning that they attach to such behaviors. According to Kont & Jantson (2013), organizational culture encompasses organizational views, values, norms, symbols, language, beliefs and assumptions. Lam, Ng, & Feldman (2012) argued that mobility only affects organizational structure if no replacement is made to fill the gap left. For instance, if one subordinate rises to a management position, the number of managers might increase by one and the number of subordinate decrease by one. Eventually, though not very practical, if the organization does not balance the number of people joining administrative positions and the number of subordinates, it might have more administrators than subordinate (Webster & Beehr, 2013). The same might also occur if individuals change their departments. One department might be understaffed, while others might be overstuffed.


Decision-making is a responsibility of the management level of any organization. Becker-Ritterspach & Dörrenbächer (2011) highlighted the three critical factors influencing organizational decision making as policies and procedures, organizational hierarchy (organizational structure) and organizational politics. Organizations have formalized procedures and policies that have been created to resolve common problems and to guide the management when making decisions (Webster & Beehr, 2013). In relation to organizational hierarchy, different management levels have different levels of authority. Organizational politics refer to the behavior displayed by groups and persons designed to influence others. Due to the fact that mobility controls the number of people joining the management level, it indirectly influences organizational decision-making (Webster & Beehr, 2013).

Stress and Conflict

Organizational conflict refers to a state of discord caused by the perceived or actual opposition of needs, values and interests between people working together. In organization, conflict can take several forms (Lam, Ng, & Feldman, 2012). There is an unavoidable conflict between formal authority and power and the affected groups. The two common forms of conflict in the organization include personal and role conflicts. Personal conflict is essentially a conflict between two members of the organization, most frequently from mutual dislike or personality class. Role conflict arises when there is no clarity in the roles designated to teams. Labor mobility can cause both personal and role conflicts (Lam, Ng, & Feldman, 2012). The manner in which individuals are promoted to join the management level might result in personal conflict. For instance, if there is no fair mechanism of promoting persons, conflicts may occur. In the event that a subordinate is promoted to the management, without any replacement to perform his or her roles, other subordinates might develop role conflict concerning who should perform his or her roles (Lam, Ng, & Feldman, 2012).

Organizational Change

Organizational change refers to a structured way of transitioning, teams, individuals and organization to a desired future state. Similar to decision-making, organizational change management is frequently considered as the responsibility of the management. Lam, Ng, & Feldman (2012) argued that there are three forms of organizational change, which include structural change, process-oriented change and people-centered change. Structural change compels the organization to redesign the company structure. Process-oriented changes compel organization to redesign their processes in order to attain optimal productivity and workflow. People-centered change frequently interferes with the behaviors, attitudes, skills or performance of employees in the company (Kont & Jantson, 2013). Some of people-centered changes arise from communication, leadership, motivation and group interaction. Labor mobility in the organization can cause any of such changes. With regard to a process-oriented change, in manufacturing companies, labor mobility might lead to the removal or introduction of a key person in the production process which interferes with product quality. By moving individuals to the management and back to the subordinate, the structure of the organization undergoes changes (Webster & Beehr, 2013).

How to Adjust the Aspects to Optimize Mobility in the European Union (EU)

The motivation aspect can be adjusted in order to optimize mobility in the EU by augmenting other motivation techniques instead of training and education programs. Organizations in the EU should consider other techniques, such as compensation to motivate their employees. Most people pursue upward mobility in order to improve their financial position. By using compensation, organizations may receive committed employees who do not change from one department to another, thereby preventing the creation of vacant positions (Kont & Jantson, 2013). Training and education are good motivation techniques but they might lead to unnecessary mobility that creates vacant positions.

The collaboration aspect can also be modified to optimize mobility (Kont & Jantson, 2013). The competitions involved in attaining high organizational positions are interfering with collaboration. Consequently, organizations should develop policies that require employees to collaborate despite competing for high managerial positions (Chalkiti, 2012). Through the intense workplace competition, mobility interferes with collaboration among employees, which can decrease the quality of goods and services. Generally, competition and collaboration should be allowed to exist (Lam, Ng, & Feldman, 2012).

Communication is another aspect that can be modified to optimize intra-organizational mobility in the EU countries (Lam, Ng, & Feldman, 2012). Organizations can implement necessary communication technology that can reflect changes in the organizational structure as employees change their positions in the organization. Such technologies should automatically assign employees their status whenever they change their organizational position (Lam, Ng, & Feldman, 2012). It implies that such technology should direct messages appropriately based on the organizational position of an individual. It will ensure that all messages are communicated to the right person using the right channel (Verbruggen, 2012).

Leadership is another aspect that can be adjusted. Due to the significance associated with employee mobility, which is improved performance, organizations should move towards leadership styles that enable employee to develop their careers (Lam, Ng, & Feldman, 2012). Autocratic leadership cannot allow upward mobility of labor; it is caused by the fact that the decision depends on the leaders. With increasing stress on labor mobility and its significance, such styles are diminishing.

Organizational structure is also an aspect that can be modified. Lam, Ng, & Feldman (2012) proposed that individuals should only be allowed to move horizontally or vertically in the organizational if there is a vacancy. It has always been the traditional viewpoint concerning labor mobility. Such efforts, as advocated by the traditional causes of mobility, are likely to create balance in the organizational structure. Organizational leaders have a greater influence on their subordinates (Lam, Ng, & Feldman, 2012). It implies that they can influence the organizational culture based on their behavior and the meanings they attach to their behaviors. As an individual moves vertically in organizational structure to become a leader, he or she is likely to create a new organizational culture based on personal beliefs.

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Aspects to be Further Investigated

The two aspects to be studies further include individuals and groups. With respect to individuals, studies should investigate the desirability for mobility (Lam, Ng, & Feldman, 2012). The attractiveness of the available mobility options is critical determinant of whether individuals will take necessary steps towards changing their job. The desirability of mobility construction is similar to the attitude towards behavior component of the theory of planned action behavior in that the more favorable an individual’s attitude towards behavior is, the stronger the individual’s intention to practice that behavior (Lam, Ng, & Feldman, 2012). The individual aspect of organizational behavior should be investigated further in relation to the planned behavior theory (Becker-Ritterspach & Dörrenbächer, 2011).

With regard to groups, it is important to investigate cross-occupation mobility. Particularly, unique factors that contribute to the decision of groups to change occupation are still not fully comprehended (Lam, Ng, & Feldman, 2012). The group aspects discussed above might act as an important starting point. For instance, studies can investigate the forms of structural factors that promote or prevent cross-occupational mobility in groups.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Current paper has discussed the influences of mobility on organizational behavior aspects. The aspects included individuals, groups, communication, leadership, organizational structure and culture, decision-making, collaboration, organizational change and motivation. In relation to individuals, people frequently give high preference to mobility options involving promotions and resist to such options involving downward move. With regard to individuals, employees with secure group attachment styles are frequently more committed to work and productive than others. In relation to motivation aspect, employees with diverse skills and deep knowledge obtained though organizational motivation concerning a specific field are likely to experience horizontal or vertical labor mobility in the organization. In terms of communication, some aspects of organizational communication might be affected by labor mobility. Regarding the organizational structure, the mobility may affect such structure only if it is not replaced to fill the gap. The following recommendations were made:

  1. Firstly, it is important to comprehend the transforming nature of work and its effects on training. As noted by organization literature, the traditional anticipation for lifelong employment with a single employer is no longer feasible as in the past. Generally, employees are not displaced more in modern times than in the past. However, certain employees are witnessing permanent job displacement as the organizational structures continue to change in the EU countries. Some employees are extensively moving between management levels and departments in the EU nations. There are different explanations for the increased rate of mobility. The positive mobility might be taking place due to the increasing transferability of skills that enable workers to move to new positions within the same organization. In any case, employees can no longer presume or complacently acknowledge the tradition phasing of education ensued by entry into the workforce. On contrary, education, training and work need to be redefined in cyclical terms. The responsibility for reacting to such changes in the nature of the organizations in the EU is put on employee, employer, schools, workers’ union and job training programs.
  1. Secondly, well-planned restructuring can help in the optimization of mobility in the EU nations. With and without job restructuring, majority of workplaces are engaged in wider organizational restructuring. The restructuring is often anticipated to enhance productivity, efficiency and profits by creating a high performance workplace or by decreasing the production costs. Organizational studies affirm that positive results can be achieved if the restructuring process is well-planned and implemented. Well-planned restructuring will ensure that all vacant positions are filled, and that people changing their jobs will move to positions declared vacant.

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