A comparative and longitudinal analysis of the evolving relationship between the environment and the strategy, structure and performance of selected organisations in the British carpet industry 1959-1986
: a firms in sector perspective of organisational adaptation

  • Shirley A. Probert

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Orthodox contingency theory links effective organisational performance to compatible relationships between the environment and organisation strategy and structure and assumes that organisations have the capacity to adapt as the environment changes. Recent contributions to the literature on organisation theory claim that the key to effective performance is effective adaptation which in turn requires the simultaneous reconciliation of efficiency and innovation which is afforded by an unique environment-organisation configuration. The literature on organisation theory recognises the continuing confusion caused by the fragmented and often conflicting results from cross-sectional studies. Although the case is made for longitudinal studies which comprehensively describe the evolving relationship between the environment and the organisation there is little to suggest how such studies should be executed in practice. Typically the choice is between the approaches of the historicised case study and statistical analysis of large populations which examine the relationship between environment and organisation strategy and/or structure and ignore the product-process relationship. This study combines the historicised case study and the multi-variable and ordinal scale approach of statistical analysis to construct an analytical framework which tracks and exposes the environment-organisation-performance relationship over time. The framework examines changes in the environment, strategy and structure and uniquely includes an assessment of the organisation's product-process relationship and its contribution to organisational efficiency and innovation. The analytical framework is applied to examine the evolving environment-organisation relationship of two organisations in the same industry over the same twenty-five year period to provide a sector perspective of organisational adaptation. The findings demonstrate the significance of the environment-organisation configuration to the scope and frequency of adaptation and suggest that the level of sector homogeneity may be linked to the level of product-process standardisation.
Date of AwardDec 1989
Original languageEnglish


  • environment
  • strategy
  • structure
  • performance
  • organisational adaptation
  • British carpet industry 1959-1986

Cite this