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Organizations in Changing Environments: The Case of East German Symphony Orchestras

Jutta Allmendinger and J. Richard Hackman
Administrative Science Quarterly
Vol. 41, No. 3 (Sep., 1996), pp. 337-369
DOI: 10.2307/2393935
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2393935
Page Count: 33
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Organizations in Changing Environments: The Case of East German Symphony Orchestras
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Abstract

Two periods of radical political-economic change in the former East Germany illuminate dynamics of organization-environment relationships that generally are hidden from view. Historical, qualitative, and survey data from a longitudinal comparative study of 78 orchestras in four nations show that the contexts of East German orchestras changed significantly when the socialist regime took power after World War II, and then again in 1990 when that regime fell. Socialist rule only modestly affected orchestras' institutional features, however; they continued to reflect centuries-old German musical traditions. The collapse of socialism in 1990, by contrast, provoked differentiation among orchestras--some adapted successfully to the new political-economic context, but others floundered. Successful adaptation was found to be a joint function of an orchestra's prior strength as an organization and the kinds of leadership initiatives taken by orchestra leaders and players. Overall, the findings suggest that the size and character of environmental effects depend on the degree to which contextual changes alter (a) the strength of the link between organizational actions and resources obtained (resource contingency) and (b) organizations' latitude to manage their own affairs (operational autonomy).

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