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Title: A study of the effect of contingency on organisational form
Author: Ritchie, Bret Michael
ISNI:       0000 0001 3519 8158
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 2002
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The most pervasive organisations in the global economy today are large chain or multi-unit organisations. They represent over 10% of all business and can often be seen as true global organisations, operating strategic business units both nationally and internationally. This important organisational form is evident within the UK's manufacturing and service sectors. UK multi-unit organisations represent the fastest growing businesses and the largest contributors to the UK economy. However, there has been little research into the way multi-unit organisations behave strategically and structurally. The aim of the research presented in this study is to examine the effect of external contingency on multi-unit organisational form. In particular, to examine the nature of strategy and structure in relation to an organisation's ability to counter uncertainty occurring in the organisation's external environment. This relationship between strategy/structure is analysed by the application of communication behaviour at the level of middle manager. The multi-unit manager sits between head office and unit management and, as such, can be seen as a critical role for the dissemination of strategy down throughout the organisation and the reporting of operational information upward. The measure used to assess strategic-structural character within the study is formalisation. To the effect the study structurally delineates organisations as either 'tight' and relatively formal or 'loose' and relatively informal. The study was applied within five UK multi-unit organisations (two in an exploratory study and three in the main study). To address the research question extensive preliminary research and an exploratory study was conducted. From the analysis of this preliminary work the main study methodology was formulated. The main study was conducted through direct observation of the multi-unit manager role followed by the distribution of self-administered diaries over a five-week period within a population of thirty-four UK multi-unit managers. The diaries measured communication with in the multi-unit manager population across a number of key variables in regard to non-routine (contingent) events at the unit level of the organisation. The results findings showed that when the respondent organisations were delineated by assigning strategic character, 'tight' or 'loose', only tentative association was found. However, when the population was delineated by individual organisation significant difference was found in communication behaviour of the different organisations multi-unit managers. Furthermore, significant difference was found between the individual managers, regardless of organisation, within the population. These findings indicate that the differences in the respondent organisations may not be fully supported by the strategic character classification scheme used within the study. Furthermore, the findings support the idea that the cause of significant difference may be found in the manner in which individual organisations are structured and the levels of human capital contained within the population of managers. The findings also show a significant relationship between the main communication variables used for measurement and analysis. The degree of joint association found within the key variables used to delineate communication behaviour in regard to contingency will also explain the level of variance found in the results.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Large chain organisations