HCBE Faculty Articles

Title

Upward Defiance in Organizations: Management Lessons from the Battle of Blair Mountain

Document Type

Article

Date

1-1-2013

Publication Title

Journal of Management History

ISSN or ISBN

1751-1348

Volume

19

Issue

3

First Page

304

Last Page

327

Description

Purpose – Based upon an analysis of 30 historic narrative accounts of mutinies, Coye, Murphy, and Spencer recently extended voice theory to clarify the ontological status of the concept of upward defiance. The purpose of this article is to extend the framework of Coye et al. and illustrate the process of escalation towards hostility to offer practicing managers guidance on appropriate steps to interrupt the extreme escalation of member resistance. Design/methodology/approach – The authors examined the significant historical insurrection within the 1921 Battle of Blair Mountain. With the case of the Blair Mountain War, the historical record provides ample narrative data for a textual, interpretive, pseudo‐ethnographical analysis. Findings – The examination of the Battle of Blair Mountain provides additional support for the upward organizational defiance framework proposed by Coye, Murphy, and Spencer. In addition, the authors have extended the theoretical upward defiance framework to account for the escalation of constructive to destructive forms of voice towards mutiny to reveal managerial actions and attitudes to mitigate follower defiance. Research limitations/implications – The common limitation to any historic case study is one of generalizability, although it often useful to accept the trade‐off between limited generalizability and the potential discernment associated with the methodology. Originality/value – The paper investigates a mutiny outside of a maritime setting to offer support for Coye et al.’s conceptual framework, extend that framework in a manner more consistent with organizational practice, and offer guidance to practitioners.

DOI

10.1108/JMH-05-2012-0039

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