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- Customer Induced Uncertainty and Its Impact on Organizational Design
- How firms facing environmental uncertainty should organize their activities remains an important and challenging question for today's managers and organizational researchers. Proponents of contingency theory have argued that organizations must adjust their activities to fit the level of environmental uncertainty to ensure long-term survival. Although much work has been done on contingency theory, it is clear that our understanding of uncertainty is far from complete. One important aspect of today's organizations is their focus on service, mass customization, and continuous innovation. This focus often results in the customer being brought either into the organization or at least into closer contact with it. Even though the literature provides numerous evidences of the increasing customer focus, it is yet to empirically explain how the complications of customer-organizational interactions might create uncertainty for contemporary organizations. The traditional measure of uncertainty still considers customers as an environmental factor causing demand uncertainty while ignoring the complex nature of customer and organizational encounters. Seeking to further refine the concept of uncertainty and focusing on the contemporary business phenomena, this study develops measures aspects of customer induced uncertainty and examines their relationships with three organizational design variables. Specifically, this study explains the complicated nature of customer - organizational encounters that creates organizational uncertainty. Also, this study develops three operational measurement instruments for the three aspects of customer induced uncertainty. Finally, this study shows specific relationships between aspects of customer induced uncertainty and specific organizational design variables. This study conducted a mail survey of middle level managers. With a sample size of 118 the measurement instruments were shown to have validity and reliability using factor analysis and Cronbach's alpha. Regression analyses indicate the presence of specific rather than general relationship between customer induced uncertainty variables and organizational design variables. Regression results suggested that the relationships between customer induced uncertainty variable and design variables were depended on the specific combination. For example, Customer acquisitiveness was negatively related to formalization where as Customer importance was positively related to professionalism. Results also suggested a possible positive relationship between decentralization and customer induced ambiguity. Although not without limitations, this study improves our understanding of contemporary environmental uncertainty. Moreover, it provides preliminary measurement instruments of customer induced uncertainty variables for numerous future studies. Overall, this study is a preliminary step toward further understanding of the uncertainty-design contingencies of contemporary and future organizations.
- The Effects of Intergroup Competition and Noncompetition on the Decision Quality of Culturally Diverse and Culturally Non-Diverse Groups
- The primary purpose of this study was to explore the challenges and benefits associated with cultural diversity within groups. The research hypotheses were proposed to test the effects of cultural diversity on group performance and group processes by comparing culturally diverse and culturally homogeneous groups under conditions of intergroup competition and noncompetition. This experiment was conducted using 500 upper-level undergraduates enrolled in the principles of management course for the fall semester.
- The Influence of Change in Organizational Size, Level of Integration, and Investment in Technology on Task Specialization
- Major changes in organizational structural paradigms have been occurring. Recent journal articles propose that the older philosophies of expanding organizations and increasing internal specialization are no longer viable means to enhance competitiveness as espoused in earlier journal articles. Downsizing, rightsizing, and business process reengineering have all been used as methods of accomplishing organizational work force reduction (OWFR) and enhancing organizational posture. It has been established that as organizations grow, specialization increases. Causes for OWFR have not been established nor have effects upon structure been studied. Previous structural factor studies have focused upon organizations engaged in end-game strategies done during periods of internal and economic growth. This study evaluates the impacts of OWFR and its relationship to the structural factor of specialization during a non-munificent economic period. Three independent variables, dis-integration, change in the number of employees, and change in technology, were used as measures to determine whether specialization decreased when organizations downsized. The dependent variable, specialization, was obtained through a pre-tested questionnaire. The three independent variables were obtained using the Compustat data base as a secondary source of information. The Compustat data was verified using data from Compact Disclosure. Questionnaires were mailed to fifty-one fully integrated oil companies. Forty were returned after three mailings yielding a response rate of seventy-eight percent. The unit of analysis for the data collected was the firm. The data were analyzed using multiple regression to determine the strength of the relationship between the variables. Results indicate a significant relationship between two of the independent variables and the dependent variable: dis-integration and specialization and change in the number of employees and specialization. Findings were insignificant for the third independent variable and the dependent variable: change in technology and specialization. Analysis of the quantitative results and the qualitative responses of the participants show that dis-integration and a change in the number of employees are both useful for measuring structural change for organizations engaged in organizational work force reduction.
- Structural Holes and Simmelian Ties: Exploring Social Capital, Task Interdependence, and Individual Effectiveness
- Two contrasting notions have been put forward on how social capital may influence individual effectiveness in organizations. Burt (1992) sets forth the informational and control advantages that are possible by building an open network characterized by large numbers of structural holes. In contrast, Coleman (1990) and Simmel (1950) have suggested that network closure, exemplified by large numbers of Simmelian ties, enables actors to develop trust, cohesiveness, and norms which contribute to effectiveness. Simmelian ties are strong, reciprocal ties shared by three actors. It is proposed that an actor's network cannot be dominated by both structural holes and Simmelian ties. Thus, this study examines whether a moderating variable is at work. It is proposed that the actor's task interdependence in the workplace influences the relationship between network closure and individual effectiveness. Actors in less task interdependent environments will benefit especially from the information and control benefits afforded by a network characterized by structural holes. Conversely, actors in highly interdependent environments will benefit especially from the creation of trust and cooperation that result from large numbers of Simmelian ties. Data was collected on 113 subjects in three organizations. Subjects were asked to rate the strength of their relationship with all organization members and their own level of task interdependence. Contrary to expectations, nearly all subjects reported high levels of task interdependence. Raters in each organization provided individual effectiveness measures for all subjects. Hypotheses were tested using hierarchical set regression and bivariate correlation. The results indicated support for the hypothesized relationship of Simmelian ties with task interdependence. When examining all cases, no support was found for the hypothesized relationship of structural holes and Simmelian ties with individual effectiveness and of structural holes with task interdependence. Nonetheless, additional analyses provided some indication of an association between Simmelian ties and individual effectiveness. Task interdependence did not moderate the relationships between either Simmelian ties or structural holes and individual effectiveness.