Crowdfunding finished
More than 500 companies around the globe are working with Holacracy®, a new way of how work can be done in organizations. As organizational psychologists, we would like to know more about Holacracy® from a neutral and scientific perspective. Systematically. Empirically. Internationally. Longitudinally. And across multiple companies.
6,430 €

About this project

Funding period 7/4/17 12:02 AM - 8/21/17 11:59 PM
Realisation Fall '17 - at least Summer '18
Start level 40,000 €
Category Science
City Olten

Project description show hide

What is this project all about?

Holacracy® is a new way of how organizations can be structured - based on self-regulation. Therefore, it is often mentioned as belonging to „responsive“ or „teal“ organizations.

Holacracy® is a trademark of HolacracyOne®, LLC and has existed for over 10 years now. More than 500 organizations around the globe run with it (e.g. Switzerland, Germany, France, Austria, UK, USA, Australia).

"Holacracy® is a radical new way of working. It completely replaces the conventional management hierarchy with a tested, customizable self-management practice that empowers people throughout an organization to make meaningful decisions and drive change."

To this date, there is no scientific research on Holacracy® on a large, international, longitudinal and cross-company scale.

We want to close this research gap. Our project is about gaining empirical insights into Holacracy® and to understand its elements and consequences.

And since organizational change is a longterm-term commitment, we want to do research on a longterm scale for at least 4 years. Therefore, the Crowdfunding needs to cover the research expenses for the next 4 years.

What is the project goal and who is the project for?

Our aim is to answer the following research questions :

(1) How can we explain Holacracy® psychologically? How does Holacracy® affect psychological factors (such as employee satisfaction, commitment, engagement, productivity, employer attractiveness, well-being)?

(2) Which stakeholders have what kinds of expectations regarding Holacracy®? And (to what extent) do they get fulfilled?

(3) Which problems and limits does Holacracy® entail?

Each big research question can include several “small” questions, such as: Is Holacracy® only valid for certain phases of an organization such as a Start-Up? Is it valid for large companies with more than 1'000 employees? What does hiring and firing look like when there is no traditional HR? How do people decide on the salary? How do people who were used to having positional power deal with the loss of power and control? What are the biggest personal challenges of Holacracy® practitioners?

We have 2 target groups of our funding campaign and our research:
#1 Your organization!
#2 You personally! Meaning any employee or individual in general.

You or / and your organization can already work with Holacracy®, are soon about to do so or are simply interested in knowing more about and experimenting with new ways of work (such as self-organization, distributed power and leadership, agility driven structures and processes).

Especially, if you are driven by one or more of the following thoughs, you belong to our target groups :-)

  • Digitalization, globalization and demographic changes affect our way to work. Traditional organizational structures and processes reach their limits. We need recipes to be responsive and brave enough to experiment.
  • I am / We are curious how self-organization and a network structure can work in real life.
  • How can we be successful as an organization and be a great place to work at the same time?
  • Especially if organizations change their current structure to Holacracy® – how do they solve typical business cases? What does it look like in 1, 2, 3, 4 years?
  • I, personally, doubt that positional power is the optimal solution. Why am I kept small within my organizations framework?
  • All those unproductive and never-ending meetings. Aren’t there any alternatives?
Why would you support this project?

Why invest into research?
Because the differentiation of subjective opinions and evidence-based facts matters. Impactful decisions, especially if they are about organizational change, should be based on large scaled facts, not on single blog posts.

Why invest into research on Holacracy®?
At the moment, there is a huge hype around Holacracy® including a controversial discussion about it. To some, Holacracy® is handled like the new solution of how organizations are structured. To others, Holacracy® is just old wine in new bottles. We want to know the truth based on clear systematic and empirical facts.

Why invest in research on Holacracy® by organizational psychologists?
As working people, we spend several hours a day for an organization – it may be for our own organization, or that of our employer. The way these organizations are structured and built, the way they influence our behavior and well-being. To work nowadays means to be productive AND stay healthy AND find a purpose, do meaningful work, participate, be creative etc.. How this can be achieved is our mission to find out. Organizational psychology supplies us with appropriate instruments and methods to do that.

How will we use the money if the project is successfully funded? 

The minimum scale is a study for at least 1 year with at least 100 people working in at least 5 companies. This could lead to a budget of 40'000€ - based on similar studies at our institute.

But actually, we like to think big. Therefore, our goal is to do a longitudinal study over 4 years with as much people in as much companies as possible. This could sum up into ... as much money as possible. But we assume, that 160'000€ can be a target.
Remember: More money --> more aspects we can do research on --> more detailed answers --> more useful for companies working with Holacracy or are thinking about implementing it.

Most of the money covers the personnell expenses of Johann and Anne executing the usual steps within a research study:

  • doing an extense literature research
  • recruiting the sample AND keeping its motivation to participate high
  • developing appropriate methods to collect data
  • evaluate and interpret data (regularly)
  • providing you the results open access

A little part of the funded money will cover potential travel costs in case we need to visit Holacracy® organizations to collect observational data or do workshops. In general, we aim to keep the study virtual as far as possible and reasonable.

During the study we will be open for your feedback, ideas, comments. Our goal is to keep the discussion about Holacracy® alive and provide you with information on a regular base.

Who are the people behind the project?

Johann and Anne are both organizational psychologists at the Institute for Research and Development of Collaborative Processes ifk at the School for Applied Psychology FHNW in Olten, Switzerland.

Some personal notes:

Since my PhD in Work and Organizational Psychology, I am interested in how organizations function - and how work is changing. In the past, I laid my focus mainly on mobile and flexible work (e.g., telecommuting), but now we are studying other forms of „new work“ in our team as well. Regarding Holacracy®, I am curious to find out if it can keep its promise (a „new operating system“) and how people can orient themselves in this new system.

Since my Master thesis about team effectiveness and leadership in Scrum teams, I am interested in "new work". Now, I am fascinated by Holacracy® and want to make a deep dive into it. To collect any experiences made with Holacracy®, structure it and make it transparent and public - that is what I am passionate about. I am convinced that we can understand and create (responsive) organizations of the future with this research.

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Holacracy® - what's all the fuss about?