Organisational receptivity for change
: combining context and capability to explain competitive advantage

  • Azni Taha

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis explores efforts to conjoin organisational contexts and capabilities in explaining sustainable competitive advantage. Oliver (1997) argued organisations need to balance the need to conform to industry’s requirements to attain legitimization (e.g. DiMaggio & Powell, 1983), and the need for resource optimization (e.g. Barney, 1991). The author hypothesized that such balance can be viewed as movements along the homogeneity-heterogeneity continuum. An organisation in a homogenous industry possesses similar characteristics as its competitors, as opposed to a heterogeneous industry in which organisations within are differentiated and competitively positioned (Oliver, 1997). The movement is influenced by the dynamic environmental conditions that an organisation is experiencing.
The author extended Oliver’s (1997) propositions of combining RBV’s focus on capabilities with institutional theory’s focus on organisational context, as well as redefining organisational receptivity towards change (ORC) factors from Butler and Allen’s (2008) findings. The authors contributed to the theoretical development of ORC theory to explain the attainment of sustainable competitive advantage. ORC adopts the assumptions from both institutional and RBV theories, where the receptivity factors include both organisational contexts and capabilities.
The thesis employed a mixed method approach in which sequential qualitative quantitative studies were deployed to establish a robust, reliable, and valid ORC scale. The adoption of Hinkin’s (1995) three-phase scale development process was updated, thus items generated from interviews and literature reviews went through numerous exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to achieve convergent, discriminant, and nomological validities.
Samples in the first phase (semi structured interviews) were hotel owners and managers. In the second phase, samples were MBA students, and employees of private and public sectors. In the third phase, samples were hotel managers.
The final ORC scale is a parsimonious second higher-order latent construct. The first-order constructs comprises four latent receptivity factors which are ideological vision (4 items), leading change (4 items), implementation capacity (4 items), and change orientation (7 items). Hypotheses testing revealed that high levels of perceived environmental uncertainty leads to high levels of receptivity factor. Furthermore, the study found a strong positive correlation between receptivity factors and competitive advantage, and between receptivity factors and organisation performance. Mediation analyses revealed that receptivity factors partially mediate the relationship between perceived environmental uncertainty, competitive advantage and organisational performance.
Date of Award23 Jan 2014
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorSamuel N Aryee (Supervisor), Michael J Butler (Supervisor) & Jeremy F Dawson (Supervisor)


  • organisational receptivity for change
  • institutional theory
  • resource-based view theory
  • environment
  • competitive advantage
  • organisational performance
  • scale development

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