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Adapting to Environmental Jolts

Alan D. Meyer
Administrative Science Quarterly
Vol. 27, No. 4 (Dec., 1982), pp. 515-537
DOI: 10.2307/2392528
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2392528
Page Count: 23
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Adapting to Environmental Jolts
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Abstract

This paper examines organizational adaptations to an environmental jolt-a sudden and unprecedented event (in this case, a doctors' strike) - that created a natural experiment within a group of hospitals. Although adaptations were diverse and appeared anomalous, they are elucidated by considering the hospitals' antecedent strategies, structures, ideologies, and stockpiles of slack resources. Assessments of the primacy of the antecedents suggest that ideological and strategic variables are better predictors of adaptations to jolts than are structural variables or measures of organizational slack. Although abrupt changes in environments are commonly thought to jeopardize organizations, environmental jolts are found to be ambiguous events that offer propitious opportunities for organizational learning, administrative drama, and introducing unrelated changes.

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