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Title: An empirical investigation of the relationship between the formal and the informal firm in a retail context
Author: Miller, Jill
ISNI:       0000 0004 2717 318X
Awarding Body: University of Reading
Current Institution: University of Reading
Date of Award: 2008
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To understand how an organisation functions effectively it is necessary to look at both the formal firm and the informal firm. It is widely acknowledged that the formal and informal aspects of an organisation interact. However, little empirical work has investigated the nature of this interaction. This study aims to conceptualise the relationship between the formal and the informal firms and the effect of the informal firm on employee performance. The formal firm is defined as the explicitly documented policies and procedures which dictate how the firm should operate. The informal firm is defined as the socially derived ways of performing tasks. A social capital framework is employed to study the formal and informal firms as it is through their connections with others that employees develop the informal firm. A highly standardised, major retail organisation was the population for this study. The formal firm was therefore a constant across stores, facilitating study of the informal firm. Data collection was both quantitative and qualitative, by means of questionnaires presented to employees within semi-structured interviews, interviews with managers and in-store observations. Data analysis involved multiple linear regressions, content analysis and case studies. This thesis makes a contribution in the following four respects. First, three relationships between the formal and informal firms are conceptualised. Second, empirical evidence is provided for the importance of the informal firm in both determining how employees perform their job tasks and affecting the implementation of formal policy. Third, even in such a standardised organisation the dual role of the departmental manager was highlighted. Fourth, it is proposed that social capital and the informal firm be included in the HR-performance chain to contribute to 'unlocking the black box' (Purcell et al, 2003). The informal firm is a fact of life in any organisation. Understanding its interaction with the formal firm as well as its effect on formal policy success provides a source of internal competitive advantage to managers. Social relationships among the workforce affect how tasks are completed within an organisation and the attainment of organisational goals.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available