Strategic Choice and Change

It is well established that organizations must adapt and change in order to survive. There are many different ways to think about what drives strategic change. Change can come about due to scarcity, status anxiety, small emergent and continuous processes, and based on the structural holes of your network. Given the large number of reasons an organization can choose to change, a number of theories have been used including Resource Dependency Theory, Contingency Theory, and complexity theory to name a few. As well as several concepts from Institutional Theory including legitimacy, and Social Network Theory, including structural closure.

The following papers were discussed in class:

  • Sherer and Lee 2002: Defines industries and organizations most likely to result in innovative change; uses scarcity concept of RBV, institutional concept of legitimacy in adoption by prestigious law firms
  • Jensen 2006: Choice to abandon affiliations in audit firms (Arthur Anderson after Enron scandal); legitimacy and accountability in the social network, acceptability heuristics, social comparison
  • Plowman et al 2007: The authors use complexity theory and change theory to argue how and why a single decision (offering hot breakfast to nearby homeless) ultimately led to a radical change in an organization and its environment (changing the church demographics, mission, and surrounding environment).
  • Battilana and Casciaro 2012: Contingency theory for how structural closure in a network (defined as the extent to which an actor’s network contacts are connected to one another) affect the initiation of adoption in an organization.
(Adapted from course notes)
(Flashcards and other resources here)

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