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Chapter 26: Adaptation, Inertia and the Flexible Organization: A Study of the Determinants of Organizational Flexibility in an Emerging Economy
26 Adaptation, inertia and the ﬂexible organization: a study of the determinants of organizational ﬂexibility in an emerging economy* Andrés Hatum and Andrew M. Pettigrew Introduction The business literature on organizational change is replete with prescriptions regarding the management and design that organizations require to confront highly competitive and changeable environments (Miles and Snow, 1986; Pettigrew and Fenton, 2000). But in spite of all the business literature oﬀering these signposts for ﬂexibility, there is little theory on the determinants of organizational ﬂexibility as a way of adapting under environmental turmoil. In particular, we shall focus our attention on the determinants of organizational ﬂexibility that made it possible for some ﬁrms to adapt rapidly in uncertain contexts. Argentina was the selected country due to the competitive environment prevailing there in the 1990s. We shall study the transformation process in four ﬁrms – two of which are considered ﬂexible and two less ﬂexible in two diﬀerent industries: pharmaceuticals and edible oils. Our analysis draws upon longitudinal data collected from the ﬁrms by means of interviews, archive material and statistical data. Using an innovative analysis, we combine coding analysis from interview transcripts, statistical analysis and the use of original display charts, to show the determinants of organizational ﬂexibility as a set of organizational capabilities that enabled some ﬁrms to adapt rapidly in the changing and highly competitive business environment that prevailed in Argentina in the 1990s. By means of our analysis we were able to identify a set of ﬁve determinants...
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