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Dynamics of organizational viability: new perspectives and evidence from China

26 March 2009

PhD ceremony: C. Zhou, 16.15 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Thesis: Dynamics of organizational viability: new perspectives and evidence from China

Promotor(s): prof. A. van Witteloostuijn

Faculty: Economics and Business


The goal of Zhou’s thesis is to theoretically explore issues in organizational ecology by searching for cross-pollination with other (sub)disciplines, and to empirically probe into industries in the Chinese transition economy. It focuses on the impact of shifts in environments on the viability of two distinguished organizational forms: the dominant “generalist”, occupying the market center and being legitimated by the mainstream institutional environment, and the subordinate “specialist”, operating in the market’s peripheries and being constrained by institutional hurdles. It develops propositions based on two sets of arguments. First, environmental and institutional changes affect organizational vital rates by constraining or releasing organizational competitiveness or changing competitive behavior. Second, direct competition is an important driver of ecological processes, complementary to diffuse competition as central in organizational ecology, accounting for much variance in organizational viability. Accordingly, a series of studies bear on the following theoretical and empirical concerns: (a) how do shifts in environments influence the viability of generalist and specialist forms active in the capitalist market system through the channel of direct competition?; (b) how do inter-organizational (direct and indirect) competition and resource constraints affect the viability of privately-owned and state-owned enterprises in China – an economy in transition from the planning system to the market regime?; (c) how are the institutional and ecological processes intertwined to drive the evolution of foreign-owned enterprises in this transition economy?; and (d) what is the performance implication of the ecology-strategy fit if assessed at the firm level in China? The results show that the dynamics of organizational viability relates with a series of features of organizations and their environments that are critical in explaining ecological processes: i.e., resource space, scale advantage, institutional hardship, market concentration, and organizational characteristics.


Last modified:15 September 2017 3.38 p.m.
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