Customer Induced Uncertainty and Its Impact on Organizational Design

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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 ... continued below

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Chowdhury, Sanjib Kumar August 1999.

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  • Chowdhury, Sanjib Kumar

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Description

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.

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  • August 1999

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  • Sept. 20, 2007, 4:16 p.m.

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  • April 8, 2016, 6:54 p.m.

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Chowdhury, Sanjib Kumar. Customer Induced Uncertainty and Its Impact on Organizational Design, dissertation, August 1999; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc2214/: accessed November 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .