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Exploring Organizational Resilience from an Inter-organizational Perspective: Relational Resilience based on Business Ecosystems in China

YOU, JING (2021) Exploring Organizational Resilience from an Inter-organizational Perspective: Relational Resilience based on Business Ecosystems in China. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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Author-imposed embargo until 30 January 2024.


Resilience in organizations has been viewed as a strategy to manage risk and uncertainty. It is generally defined as the ability of an organization to positively adjust and maintain functioning before, during and following adversity. Prior research has largely focused on cognitive and behavioral aspects of organizational resilience highlighting how an organization coordinates its members to make sense of and respond to adversity. A consensus has emerged from prior studies that relational connections within and outside of an organization provide a context in which resilience is activated. There is an emerging research stream that explicitly explores the concept of relational resilience. These studies, however, focus on intra-organizational collaborations, rather than inter-organizational collaborations, which are equally important for organizational resilience but remain largely unexplored.
Rooted in System Theory, organizations have been conceptualized as open systems that constantly interact with the environment in order to acquire critical resources and capabilities needed for their function and survival. In the field of strategy and management, organizational environment constitutes a variety of economic actors (e.g., suppliers, customers, regulators, competitors) and technology with which an organization has to define and manage its relationships in order to pursue its goal (e.g., profit-seeking or non-profit activity). In the face of a globalized and digitalized world economy, the environment in which organizations operate has become more complex and turbulent than ever before due to an increasing number of diverse external factors on which organizations depend as well as the intensity of changes exhibited by these factors. The survival of organization is critically determined by how well an organization manages its relationships with the environment in order to sustain the continuous flow of resources and information.
Drawing upon the perspective of inter-organizational relationships (IORs), this thesis employs an inductive qualitative approach to investigate how an organization copes with disruption through its external relationships with other organizations in its business ecosystem. Through a two-staged data collection process, this thesis completes four empirical studies including (1) investigating key activities conducted at the boundaries between organizations in twenty-two business ecosystems, (2) identifying fourteen IOR attributes and six distinct dynamic patterns of IOR, (3) identifying one hundred and thirty-seven events that have been categorized into four types of organizational disruption (e.g., mounting-narrow, mounting-broad, sudden-narrow, sudden-broad) and (4) synthesizing the findings from these three studies using a Fuzzy Cognitive Mapping technique in a second-round data collection, leading to a typology of relational resilience. By shifting research attention from intra-organizational collaboration to inter-organizational collaboration in the context of Chinese business environment, this study provides fresh theoretical and empirical insights of relational resilience and contributes to the emerging literature of resilience activation in organizations.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Organizational Resilience; Inter-organizational Relationships; Disruption; Uncertainty; Business Ecosystems; China
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Business > Management and Marketing, Department of
Thesis Date:2021
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:01 Feb 2021 13:51

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