Supervisor: Dr Mehdi Safavi
Organizations often struggle to adapt to changes in the environment, displaying paralyzing inertia in the face of substantive threats. For example, technology firms such as Xerox or Polaroid failed to adapt to a dynamically shifting technological environment by continuing to focus attention and resources on developing their core technologies. Similarly, financial firms such as Bear Stearns, Washington Mutual, or Moody’s failed to adapt to changes in the economic environment by continuing to adhere to existing practices in the face of substantial changes in the financial sector. The consequences of such organizational failure to adapt to changes in the environment are significant, often leading to organizational collapse.
Scholars have developed several explanations for organizational inertia associated with organizational structures, resourcing patterns, or cognitive frames of decision makers. All these explanations view inertia as failure to act (inaction) or taking inappropriate actions in response to environmental changes. However, existing theories of inertia do not consider how organizations may still maintain and (re)create inertia while actively responding to the changes in their environment by taking ‘appropriate’ actions. Routine-Level analysis can provide an answer to this line of enquiry.
Possible Research Areas
Mehdi is looking for outstanding doctoral students wishing to pursue an academic career at the intersection of Strategy and Organization Studies. Current doctoral opportunities revolve around the study of change and inertia in organizations. These include studying change and stability of routines in post-merger integration (PMI) processes, gradual changes overtime through the daily enactment of organizational routines resulting in substantial changes in those routines, and mechanisms of inertial at organisational routine level that prevent change implementation in various organizational contexts.
Strong applicants should demonstrate a good grasp of the recent development in the areas of organizational change/inertia/routines as well as a strong qualitative research foundation. Applications that are too broad and lack the necessary relevance and focus would not be considered.