Organizational adaptation is a ubiquitous concept in management and organization research. Discussed in many theories, sometimes under different labels, the notion of adaptation is related to organizations being congruent to the environments within which they operate. Research traditions including behavioral theory (see A Behavioral Theory of the Firm), contingency theory as explained in Differentiation and Integration in Complex Organizations, population ecology (see The Population Ecology of Organizations), institutional theory elaborated upon in both Institutionalized Organizations: Formal Structure as Myth and Ceremony and The Iron Cage Revisited: Institutional Isomorphism and Collective Rationality in Organizational Fields, resource dependence (see The External Control of Organizations: A Resource Dependence Perspective), and evolutionary economics (see An Evolutionary Theory of Economic Change) all address organizational adaptation—though they emphasize different mechanisms. Adaptation, regarded as the strategic choice that organizations make, is often contrasted with the notion of selection driven by the determinism imposed by environments (see Organizational Adaptation: Strategic Choice and Environmental Determinism). Adaptive organizations are those able to obtain congruence both within organizations, reflected as congruence in internal functions and strategies, and across organizations, reflected as congruence with the needs of the external environment. The form of adaptation is also particularly relevant. Organizational theory has viewed adaptation as a state, an ability, and as a process. States of adaptation discuss stability and adaptation at points in time. From states of adaptation, adaptive abilities determine the impetus of adaptation and the locus of adaptation within organizations. Finally, the adaptation processes describe the means by which organizations adapt the challenges they face in negotiating new positions within environments. Research has covered each of these areas and this bibliography is organized primarily around forms of adaptation to elaborate on the ways in which it has been viewed by organizational theory and strategy scholars. The variety of research traditions examining organizational adaptation have not always aligned, however. Each research tradition seeks to explain different outcomes, from survival to performance to change. Thus, across theoretical traditions, the adaptation construct has been measured in many different ways—and often not as congruence with the external environment. In fact, this represents one of the challenges that recent research has identified as holding back progression of the adaptation research agenda. As such, this bibliography concludes with a section on issues in adaptation research in order to assist researchers in pursuing research in this area.
Organizational adaptation is not discussed by any one particular journal, but is represented in the most prominent journals of management, strategy, and organizational theory. Current research continues to elaborate on organizational adaptation as a theoretical concept, notably in leading management journals such as Academy of Management Review, Administrative Science Quarterly, Organization Science, and Strategic Management Journal. Each of the aforementioned journals, with the exception of the Academy of Management Review also publish empirical studies on organizational adaptation. Scholars seeking to discover further empirical studies that evaluate organizational adaptation should also consult the Academy of Management Journal and Management Science as outlets for high-impact research. A strong lineage of organizational adaptation can also be traced to prominent journals in sociology. Although articles on organizational adaptation occur less frequently in the American Sociological Review and the American Journal of Sociology, some of the most influential articles have emanated from authorship in these journals historically.
Academy of Management Journal. 1958–.
A flagship journal of management research, Academy of Management Journal is the primary outlet for empirical research published by the Academy of Management. Organizational adaptation has been reflected in this journal through a wide range of studies that leveraged processual approaches, mixed methods, and quantitative methods.
Academy of Management Review. 1976–.
Academy of Management Review is the primary outlet of theoretical research published by the Academy of Management. Research has been published in this journal to reflect conceptual models and theoretical mechanisms associated with organizational adaptation.
Administrative Science Quarterly. 1956–.
A flagship journal of management research that publishes research to advance management theory and report empirical studies on organizations.
American Journal of Sociology. 1895–.
A flagship journal of sociological research that includes studies of management and economic sociology. Studies on organizational adaptation are less frequent in this journal; however, historical roots of both institutional theory and population ecology emanate from sociological roots and were important theories that shaped the literature on organizational adaptation.
American Sociological Review. 1936–.
A flagship journal of sociological research published by the American Sociological Association. Research published in this journal focuses on advancing the understanding of social processes, which includes research on industrial and organizational sociology. Research on institutional theory that has influenced organizational adaptation has been reflected in this journal.
Management Science. 1954–.
A management journal that focuses on the practice of management and covers a broad range of management topics including strategy, decision-making, organizational theory, and entrepreneurship. Organizational adaptation has been well reflected in this journal through methodological advances that simulate the adaptive behavior of organizations.
Organization Science. 1990–.
A management journal that publishes theoretical and empirical research on a broad range of management topics including strategy, organizational behavior, and organizational theory. Research on organizational adaptation has been prominently featured in this journal and studied from a variety of perspectives that includes cognition and learning in the process of adaptation.
Strategic Management Journal. 1980–2018.
A management journal that publishes theoretical and empirical research focused on improving the theory and practice of management. This journal is designed to appeal more broadly to practicing managers and covers topics related to strategic decision-making, resource allocation, competitive advantage, and organizational capabilities. Research on organizational adaptation has been published to reflect the adaptive abilities or organizations and the competitive advantages and disadvantages associated with adaptation and inertia.
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.
How to Subscribe
Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here.
- Abusive Supervision
- Adverse Impact and Equal Employment Opportunity Analytics
- Applied Political Risk Analysis
- Approaches to Social Responsibility
- Assessment Centers: Theory, Practice and Research
- Authentic Leadership
- Bayesian Statistics
- Behavior, Organizational
- Behavioral Approach to Leadership
- Behavioral Theory of the Firm
- Between Organizations, Social Networks in and
- Brokerage in Networks
- Career Studies
- Charismatic and Innovative Team Leadership By and For Mill...
- Computational Modeling
- Conflict Management
- Corporate Social Performance
- Counterproductive Work Behavior (CWB)
- Cross-Cultural Communication
- Cross-Cultural Management
- Cultural Intelligence
- Culture, Organization
- Data Analytic Methods
- Decision Making
- Emotional Labor
- Employee Aging
- Employee Engagement
- Employee Voice
- Empowerment, Psychological
- Entrepreneurship, Corporate
- Entrepreneurship, Women's
- Equal Employment Opportunity
- Faking in Personnel Selection
- Family Business, Managing
- Financial Markets in Organization Theory and Economic Soci...
- Findings, Reporting Research
- Fit, Person-Environment
- Goal Setting
- Hofstedes Cultural Dimensions
- Human Capital Pipelines
- Human Resource Management
- Human Resource Management, Strategic
- Human Resources, Global
- Human Rights
- Humanitarian Work Psychology
- Humility in Management
- Impression Management at Work
- Innovative Behavior
- Intelligence, Emotional
- International Economic Development and SMEs
- International Economic Systems
- International Strategic Alliances
- Job Analysis and Competency Modeling
- Job Crafting
- Job Design
- Job Satisfaction
- Leader-Member Exchange
- Leadership Development
- Leadership Development and Organizational Change, Coaching...
- Leadership, Ethical
- Leadership, Global and Comparative
- Leadership, Strategic
- Management History
- Management In Antiquity
- Meaningful Work
- Multinational Corporations and Emerging Markets
- Neo-institutional Theory
- Neuroscience, Organizational
- Organization Design, Global
- Organization Development and Change
- Organization Theory
- Organizational Adaptation
- Organizational Behavior, Emotions in
- Organizational Citizenship Behaviors (OCBs)
- Organizational Corruption
- Organizational Identity
- Organizational Justice
- Organizational Legitimacy
- Organizational Networks
- Organizational Performance, Personality Theory and
- Organizational Responsibility
- Organizational Surveys, Driving Change Through
- Organizations, Big Data in
- Organizations, Political Ideology in
- Organizations, Social Identity Processes in
- Pay for Skills, Knowledge, and Competencies
- People Analytics
- Performance Appraisal
- Planning And Goal Setting
- Psychological Contracts
- Regional Entrepreneurship
- Reputation, Organizational Image and
- Research, Ethics in
- Research, Longitudinal
- Research Methods
- Research Methods, Qualitative
- Resource-Dependence Theory
- Response Surface Analysis, Polynomial Regression and
- Role of Time in Organizational Studies
- Safety, Work Place
- Selection, Applicant Reactions to
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecy In Management
- Self-Management and Personal Agency
- Service Management
- Shared Team Leadership
- Status in Organizations
- Strategic Human Capital
- Strategy and Cognition
- Structural Contingency Theory/Information Processing Theor...
- Team Conflict
- Team Newcomers
- Teams, Global
- Technology and Innovation Management
- Technology, Organizational Assessment and
- the Workplace, Millennials in
- Theory X and Theory Y
- Time and Motion Studies
- Training and Development
- Training Evaluation
- Unobtrusive Measures
- Virtual Teams
- Work and Family: An Organizational Science Overview
- Work Contexts, Nonverbal Communication in
- Work, Mindfulness at
- Workplace Commitment
- Workplace Gossip
- Workplace Meetings
- Workplace, Spiritual Leadership in the
- World War II, Management Research during