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Studying Changes in Organizational Design and Effectiveness: Retrospective Event Histories and Periodic Assessments


  • William H. Glick

    (Graduate School of Business, University of Texas, Austin, Texas 78712)

  • George P. Huber

    (Graduate School of Business, University of Texas, Austin, Texas 78712)

  • C. Chet Miller

    (Hankamer School of Business, Baylor University, Waco, Texas 76798)

  • D. Harold Doty

    (Department of Management, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas 72701)

  • Kathleen M. Sutcliffe

    (Graduate School of Business, University of Texas, Austin, Texas 78712)


This paper describes assumptions, rationale, and track-offs involved in designing the research methodology used in a longitudinal study of the relationships among changes in organizational contexts, designs, and effectiveness. The basic research question concerns when how, and why do different types of organizational change occur. Given this research question and a desire to develop and test generalizable theory about changes in organizational design and effectiveness, we conducted a longitudinal study of over 100 organizations. Data concerning the changes were obtained through four interviews spaced six months apart with the top manager in each organization. Each interview provided a short-term retrospective event history over the preceding 6-month interval in aggregate, the four interviews provided a 24-month event history for each organization. Additionally, periodic assessments of the state of the organization's context, design, and effectiveness were collected with two questionnaires spaced one year apart. Finally, in each organization, the top manager's personal characteristics were assessed after all other data were obtained. This paper examines the alternatives, advantages, and disadvantages of the research design decisions. With some hindsight, we also offer some suggestions for future researchers with similar goals of developing and testing generalizable explanations of change processes in organizations.

Suggested Citation

  • William H. Glick & George P. Huber & C. Chet Miller & D. Harold Doty & Kathleen M. Sutcliffe, 1990. "Studying Changes in Organizational Design and Effectiveness: Retrospective Event Histories and Periodic Assessments," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 1(3), pages 293-312, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ororsc:v:1:y:1990:i:3:p:293-312
    DOI: 10.1287/orsc.1.3.293

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    9. Shérazade Gatfaoui, 2005. "Quelles Conceptions 1 De La Confiance Au Cours De La Relation Bancaire (Client/Banque) ? : Une Approche Par Les Etudes De Cas Retrospectives," Post-Print hal-01539947, HAL.
    10. Koryak, Oksana & Lockett, Andy & Hayton, James & Nicolaou, Nicos & Mole, Kevin, 2018. "Disentangling the antecedents of ambidexterity: Exploration and exploitation," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 47(2), pages 413-427.
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    20. Franz W. Kellermanns & Kimberly A. Eddleston, 2006. "Corporate Entrepreneurship in Family Firms: A Family Perspective," Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, , vol. 30(6), pages 809-830, November.
    21. Marc Gruber & Ian C. MacMillan & James D. Thompson, 2013. "Escaping the Prior Knowledge Corridor: What Shapes the Number and Variety of Market Opportunities Identified Before Market Entry of Technology Start-ups?," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 24(1), pages 280-300, February.
    22. Anna Cabigiosu & Diego Campagnolo, 2016. "The economic performance of innovations in a collaborative setting: the case of KIBS firms," Working Papers 22, Department of Management, Università Ca' Foscari Venezia.
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