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Edited by Laura Anna Costanzo and Robert Bradley MacKay
Chapter 8: Researching the Organization–Environment Relationship
8 Researching the organization–environment relationship George Burt Introduction What is the environment, and would we recognize it if we saw it? Simple questions, yet they have profound implications for those interested in researching the organization– environment (and environment–organization) relationship. These questions have been and are increasingly being posed by researchers as they continue to develop contemporary theoretical explanations of the organization and environment relationship (and the environment and organization relationship) (Emery and Trist, 1965; Child, 1972; Boyd et al., 1993; Weick, 1995; Scott, 2003; Burt et al., 2006). However, there are two diﬀering (and dichotomous) perspectives about how to understand the organization–environment relationship, which have important implications for any research in this domain. In the ﬁrst perspective, the environment is traditionally understood as exogenous, that is, external to and detached from managers and organizations (Hatch, 1997), and it is continually imposing opportunities and constraints upon an organization. Under these circumstances, managers are challenged to respond quickly to such opportunities and constraints in an attempt to ensure survival and adaptation in the ﬁrst instance (Boisot and Child, 1999) and competitive advantage in the second instance (Lawrence and Lorsch, 1967; Porter, 1985; March, 1991). The ability of management to adapt their organization to the drivers of change in the environment has been the focal concern for researchers (Burt et al., 2006). In the second perspective, the environment is understood as being endogenous (Dill, 1958; Duncan, 1972), that is, subjective and internal in the mind of the managers and...
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