Handbook of Research on Strategy and Foresight
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Handbook of Research on Strategy and Foresight

Edited by Laura Anna Costanzo and Robert Bradley MacKay

Drawing together a collection of 29 original chapters, the Handbook makes an invaluable contribution to theory and practice by stimulating disciplined, rigorous and imaginative enquiry into the relationship between strategy and foresight. Leading scholars in the field of strategic management are brought together to offer innovative and multi-disciplinary perspectives on the past, present and future of strategy formation and foresight. In so doing, they challenge research in four key areas: strategy and foresight processes; strategy innovation for the future; understanding the future; and strategically responding to the future.
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Chapter 8: Researching the Organization–Environment Relationship

George Burt


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 socially constructed (Berger and Luckmann, 1966;...

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