This research—conducted at internationally renowned high-end culinary R&D laboratories including the Fat Duck Experimental Kitchen in Bray, the Noma Test Kitchen in Copenhagen, and the Modernist Cuisine Lab in Bellevue—documents how open-ended member roles allow groups to monitor their environment and adapt their internal structure and goals to accommodate unpredictable environmental change. While open-ended roles support adaptability, they make systematic new member acquisition through conventional selection-based hiring difficult or impossible. I describe negotiated joining, a novel alternative process distinct from selection for acquiring new members into open-ended roles.
Management research to date assumes and prescribes that roles should be pre-defined before new members are acquired to fill them. However, organizations operating in uncertain environments cannot fully pre-define their member roles. This study documents generalizable processes that organizations can use to systematically manage new member acquisition into open-ended, partly undefined roles. It also shows how open-ended roles promote group adaptability by providing both motivation and opportunity for members to modify the organization by negotiating and constructing useful—and potentially novel—roles for themselves.