Structuration Theory and EUCRM

Two theories of structure and agency


Figure 1: Structuration Theory (image courtesy University of Twente)

Pierre Bourdieu published Practice Theory in 1970, which in 1979 Anthony Giddens adapted into Structuration Theory.

Both are relevant to EUCRM because they describe how individual agency interacts with group norms.

Practice Theory claims that we will follow group norms unless there is some problem with them, in which case change can be considered.

Stucturation Theory is more general, and says that our actions always recreate group norms (Figure 1). It assumes that unavoidable environmental uncertainty will drive actor’s to make constant micro-adjustments to their behaviour. These are then adopted and inherited into social norms, or structure.

EUCRM doesn’t regard this distinction as important.

EUCRM adaptation

EUCRM suggests there are two pathways for change to be fostered. Both begin with poor performance. Poor group performance first lowers your respect for rules and/or colleagues (performance → respect), while creating a necessity for you to consider different solutions (performance → confidence).


Figure 2: Practice Theory summarised (image courtesy Dec20)

This is reflected in Figure 2, where unintended consequences and monitoring of practice can both reveal poor performance. Each then leads to transformation of practice. Eventually, the adapted norms and rules become routine.

Notice however that transformation of practice does not occur when monitoring shows that performance is adequate, and there are no unintended consequences. Repetition of practice occurs instead.

Confidence and Respect

If its not clear already, structure is equivalent to the respect component, and agency to the confidence component.

It is interesting to note that, while Giddens sees structure and agency as unavoidably intertwined, EUCRM places the two components within a negative, reinforcing feedback loop.


Figure 3: Negative reinforcing feedback

This means that respect and confidence cannot easily both exist at the same time.

This is actually implied in both Practice and Structuration Theory, since agency and structure alternate.

In practical terms, reflecting the truism if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, members of a group that is performing well won’t suggest improvements.

Boiled down to this simple concept, one wonders why these theories seem to be given so much prominence?