TitleDelaying Change: Examining How Industry and Managerial Turbulence Impact Structural Realignment
Publication TypeJournal Articles
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsCarroll, T, Karim, S, Long, CP
JournalAcademy of Management Journal
Date Published2016

This paper examines when firms pursue structural realignment through business unit reconfiguration, specifically by recombining business units. Our results refine and extend contingency theory and studies of organization design by drawing on theories of decision avoidance and delay to describe environmental conditions when firms pursue or postpone structural realignment. Our empirical analysis of 46 firms from 1978 to 1997, operating within the U.S. medical device and pharmaceutical sectors, demonstrates that while decision makers initiate structural recombination during periods of industry growth (i.e., munificence), they reduce their recombination efforts during periods of industry turbulence (i.e., dynamism), and managerial turbulence (i.e., growth in top management team size). We also find evidence that firms delay realignment and bide their time for better environmental conditions of declining turbulence and industry growth before pursuing more structural realignment. Together, these findings suggest that decision makers often delay initiating structural recombination until they can effectively process information and assess how structural changes will help them realign the organization to the environment.