The emergent organisation
: the case of public sector private enterprise

  • Stuart Wigham

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis is concerned with organisation design (OD) and a specific case study relating to the emerging worlds of a wholly owned company (WOC) of a public sector organisation. In particular, the researcher investigates the nature of conditions for organising, utilising the information processing view - IPV (Galbraith, 1974) along with Parrish’s (2010) perspective on purpose driven enterprises. This is nested in bounded rationality within a whole systems theoretical framework of thinking (Lewin & Volberda,1999; Tushman, Newman & Romanelli, 1986). The research draws on previous discussions in the literature related to implicit theories of organising (Brief, 1983), and framing them within the structural design of the organisation (Chandler, 1962). In doing so, the researcher demonstrates the contradictory and reinforcing mechanisms of former organisational realities connected to organisational culture (Schein, 1983, 1990) as part of the design narrative and implications on explicit managerial intention of the organisation (Hinrichs, 2009; Lewin & Volberda, 1999; Rashman, Withers, & Hartley, 2009).

The research draws out wider issues of interest related to public sector OD and the current and emerging contexts (Butler & Allen, 2008), particularly, the nature of organising in the post 2008 world. Ultimately this research makes contributions towards the fields of OD and IPV within a UK public sector context (Galbraith, 1974) and provides a new OD model reflective of these issues. These contributions relate specifically to the nature of organisation purpose as well as the sub-constructs of slack resource,self-contained tasks, vertical systems and lateral relationships of IPV. In addition, the work builds towards adding habitation realities to the OD debate as well as drawing out dual realities of organising, which has not been previously noted in the OD academic literature.

The study adopts a qualitative design using a combination of 32 two hour long semi-structured interviews, documentation review and observations for data collection. This design enables investigation of meaning creation and reality making of the participants with conflicting realities of the past, present and possible futures adding to understanding of the design of the organisation. The analysis adopts a modified grounded theory in conjunction with organisational transactional analysis producing findings along three institutional levels of macro, meso and micro relationship dynamics (Berne, 2010; Bowen & Nath, 1975).

The findings relate to bounded rationality and psychological frames of theoretical thinking, for example organisation structure and the IPV perspective as well as how managerial intentionality is exercised against organisational cultural memory, OD system incongruence (drawing out the TRODM - Tripartite Realities OD Model, from this research) and the implications of this on organising. The final outcome of this research is the development of a new OD model for viewing/investigating organisational design issues.
Date of Award13 Mar 2019
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorPawan Budhwar (Supervisor) & Judith W Scully (Supervisor)


  • organisation design
  • information processing view
  • public sector

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