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The Adoption of the M-Form Organizational Structure: A Test of Imitation Hypothesis


  • Vijay Mahajan

    (Edwin L. Cox School of Business, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas 75275)

  • Subhash Sharma

    (College of Business Administration, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina 29208)

  • Richard A. Bettis

    (Edwin L. Cox School of Business, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas 75275)


The study of organizational adoption of administrative innovations has been generally guided by the imitation hypothesis. This hypothesis states that, within a relevant population of firms, an innovation is first adopted by a select few innovators who communicate and influence others to adopt it resulting in a predictable diffusion pattern. Using data on the adoption of the M-form organizational structure, this paper reexamines this hypothesis. Based on the reported results, we cannot reject the null hypothesis that organizational adoption of administrative innovations is characterized by a white-noise process. This result brings into question the appropriateness of the imitation hypothesis. Limitations and implications of the results are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Vijay Mahajan & Subhash Sharma & Richard A. Bettis, 1988. "The Adoption of the M-Form Organizational Structure: A Test of Imitation Hypothesis," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 34(10), pages 1188-1201, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:34:y:1988:i:10:p:1188-1201
    DOI: 10.1287/mnsc.34.10.1188

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    Cited by:

    1. Sang-Gun Lee & Byeonghwa Park & Si-Hyeon Kim & Hong-Hee Lee, 2012. "Innovation and imitation effects in the mobile telecommunication service market," Service Business, Springer;Pan-Pacific Business Association, vol. 6(3), pages 265-278, September.
    2. Lee, Sang-Gun & Trimi, Silvana & Kim, Changsoo, 2013. "The impact of cultural differences on technology adoption," Journal of World Business, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 20-29.
    3. Sumit Majumdar, 1996. "Bandwagon Influences And Installed-Base Conversion In U.S. Telecommunications," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(2), pages 113-122.
    4. Bo-Seong Yun & Sang-Gun Lee & Yaichi Aoshima, 2019. "An analysis of the trilemma phenomenon for Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy," Service Business, Springer;Pan-Pacific Business Association, vol. 13(4), pages 779-812, December.
    5. Laurens Cherchye & Thomas Demuynck & Bram Rock & Kristof Witte, 2014. "Non‐parametric Analysis of Multi‐output Production with Joint Inputs," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 124(577), pages 735-775, June.
    6. Doong, Her-Sen & Wang, Hui-Chih & Law, Rob, 2008. "An initial investigation of the effect of advertisement and word-of-month on first-time visitors to Hong Kong," Journal of Air Transport Management, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 159-161.
    7. Mahoney, Joseph T., 1995. "The management of resources and the resource of management," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 91-101, June.


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