Monday, October 15, 2007

Concept of the Day: Organizational Ecology

Using the particular example of sexual harassment law to illuminate:

•Organizational ecology helps explain how organizations change in terms of the material and cultural features of its organizational environment.

•Thus, in order to effectively respond to the problem of sexual harassment—to create a formal grievance procedure, to redress a particular case of harassment—the organization needs to change and adapt its form and structure.

•Organizational ecology holds that the core features of organizations change slowly due to strong inertial pressures (Hannan and Freeman, 1989). This poses a problem for arguments that organizations must radically change in structure and managerial composition as a means of affecting the power conditions for sexual harassment, or to create formal organizational structures and positions (for example, HR departments) to handle complaints .

•Factors affecting inertial resistance to change:

–Internal Constraints
•Investment in plant, equipment, and specialized personnel
•Limits on the internal information received by decision makers
•Internal political constraints supportive of vested interests
•Organizational history, which justifies past action and prevents consideration of alternative strategies.

–External Constraints
•Legal and economic barriers to entry into and out of various areas of activity
•Constraints on the external information gathered by decision-makers
•Legitimacy considerations
•Collective Rationality and general equilibrium: favor stability, not change

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