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Change Management

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Change Management ­MGMT625
VU
Lesson # 23
ORGANIZATIONAL ADAPTATION
The word adaptation is a metaphor that captures the endeavours of organizations to be fitted better to its
environment. Two things remain prominent with organisation in this process:
1) It has an articulated purpose
2) An established mechanism for achieving it.
Most organizations are constantly evaluating their purposes, questioning, verifying and re-defining the
way of interaction with their environments. Effective organisations maintain alignment with its
environment, and ineffective organization fail to maintain the alignment with environment. These
effective organizations also constantly modify and refine the mechanism by which they achieve their
purposes and are re-arranging their structure of roles, relationships and managerial processes. Hence the
essence of management is coping with external environmental change by changing objectives, changing
structures and changing processes
We will discuss here the same as the concept of organisation adaptation frame-work or model as proposed
Miles and Snow. The model contains two major elements:
1. It specifies the major decisions needed by organization to maintain an effective alignment with its
environment.
2. This also highlights an organisational typology which portrays different patterns of adaptive behaviour.
The Adaptive Cycle:
Strategic Choice theorists argue that organization behaviour is only partially ordained by environmental
conditions and the choices made by top managers are the critical determinant of organization structure
and processes. The adaptive cycle is present in all organization, according to Miles & Snow, and it is
more visible in new or growing organizations
Now the question is what is meant by adaptive cycle? This has been defined by the two leading scholars
as under:
The Entrepreneurial problem
An entrepreneur must give a concrete definition of organization domain: a specific good or service and a
target market or market segment, and the entrepreneurial problem is an added dimension. In either a new
or on-going organization the solution to entrepreneur problem is marked by management's acceptance of
a particular product-market domain, and this acceptance becomes evident when management decides to
commit or allocate resources.
Second is to achieve objectives related to the entrepreneur domain. In many companies entrepreneurial
solution is sought by through the development and projection of an organizational image, internally and
externally. Therefore in this phase two important phenomena are the identification of a new opportunity
and the initial impetus for movement toward it. Engineering problem begins to appear at this stage.
The Engineering Problem
The engineering problem involves the creation of a system which operationalizes management's solution
to the entrepreneurial problem. Such a system requires management to select appropriate technology
(input-transformation-output) for producing and distributing the chosen product, and further need new
information, communication and control linkages. (Job-order, batch or flow production) As solution to
the problems are reached through initial implementation of the administrative system but final
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Change Management ­MGMT625
VU
configuration of the organization will be reached as management consolidates relations with the
environment (final shape of the organization will be settled during administrative phase)
The Administrative Problem
Administrative system is to reduce uncertainty within the organizational system. Therefore in this phase
management establishes process for coordinating and controlling internal operations and rationalizing the
system already developed. It also involves formulating and implementing those principles which will
enable the org. to continue to evolve (innovation). This phase is termed pivotal by the author in the cycle
of adaptation owing to the followings:
Rationalization and Articulation
Management must be adept at two conflicting functions: first, to create an administrative system
(structure & processes) for monitoring and controlling current activities and second, at the same time
allowing the system not to jeopardise the future innovation. This has been identified as lagging and
leading variable in the process of adaptation. The lagging variable suggests organization must rationalize
through the development of appropriate structure and processes, strategic decisions made at previous
points in the adjustment process. While the leading variable the administrative system must facilitate the
org. future capacity to adapt by articulating and reinforcing the paths along which innovative capacity can
proceed. Therefore an administrative system is such to deal with past and future. The same dilemma can
be identified in the classical principle of Henri Fayol; especially when he talked of maintaining stability
and initiative in the organization. In terms of marketing management of an organization the same problem
persists as revenues from existing product and at the same time the need to develop new products and
businesses. The dilemma is, how can we get both out of the same structure one needs innovation and
creativity while the other demands tight discipline and regimentation?
Having dealt with adaptive cycle as given by Miles and Snow the question then arises how organisations
move through the cycle. For this we need to understand the typology presented by them in the form of
different set of organizational strategies. The question is what strategies organizations employ in solving
their entrepreneurial, engineering and administrative problems. The research of Miles & Snow shows that
there are essentially three-strategic types of organizations:
1. Defenders
2. Prospectors
3. Analyzers
Each strategy has a distinct way to engage or interact with its environment. Each type has its own unique
strategy for relating to its chosen market. Each has a particular configuration of technology, structure and
process that is consistent with its market strategy. Besides the fourth type of organizations exist known as
Reactor, which is identified by Miles & Snow as a form "Strategic failure" owing to inconsistencies
among its strategy, structure, technology and process.
1. Defenders
The defender deliberately enacts in an environment for which a stable form of organization is appropriate.
Stability is achieved by the defender's definition of, and solution to its entrepreneurial problem. The
defenders define it as " how to seal off a portion of the total market in order to create a stable domain, and
they do so by producing only a limited set of products directed at a narrow segment of the total potential
market. With in this domain defender strives aggressively to prevent competitors entering its turf, but also
ignores developments and trends outside of their domains. Over a time he is successful in carving out its
own niche which is difficult for competitors to penetrate.
The engineering problem for the defender is how to produce and distribute goods as efficiently as
possible? The defender does so by developing a single core technology that is highly cost efficient out put
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Change Management ­MGMT625
VU
on continuous and predictable basis. Some defenders follow vertical integration strategy by incorporating
each stage of production from raw material to distribution of final output.
The defender's Administrative problem is "How to achieve strict control of the organization in order to
ensure efficiency. So this is resolved through structural-process mechanism described as mechanistic
bearing the following features:
i) Top management group heavily dominated by production and cost-control specialist
ii) Little or no scanning of the environment for new avenues.
iii) Functional structure characterized by division of labour, centralized control, communications
through hierarchical channels
Such administrative is suitable for generating and maintaining efficiency but have adaptive or adaptability
problems. Therefore this system operates well for stable industries and is ineffective for turbulent
industries (where market environment changes quickly)
For example this view of strategic adaptation is popular amongst managers in developing countries e.g.
electronic industries in context of Pakistan split air conditioner may be different from traditional
manufacturers of window air conditioning units. The question then is why traditional stable business in
this industry was un-able to realise and adapt quickly in the changed environment. Or it is the
organization who acted like defenders of the Miles & Snow's typology.
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