NYU Stern

When Plans Change:
Examining How People Evaluate Timing Changes in Work Organizations


The successful timing of organizational activities depends not only on effective planning and coordination, but also temporal responsiveness – the ability of organizational actors to adapt the timing of their activities to unanticipated events. In this paper, we examine the individual-level dynamics underlying temporal responsiveness: we examine how organizational actors evaluate timing changes; e.g., changes from existing organizational schedules, routines, expectations, and plans. We review a broad body of psychological, economic, sociological, anthropological and organizational research on time to introduce a reference point model of how people perceive and evaluate time in organizations. We extend these findings to examine the psychology of how changes in timing are valued. Several propositions are presented about personal schedule changes and how individual actors evaluate them.