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  Partner: UNT Libraries
 Decade: 1990-1999
 Degree Discipline: Organizational Theory and Policy
 Collection: UNT Theses and Dissertations
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.
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.