External Factors on Organizations

Scott, W. R., & Davis, G. F. (2007). Organization of the environment. Organizations and organizing: rational, natural, and open system perspectives. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson Prentice Hall.


Scott & Davis (2007) in  Organizations and Organizing: Rational, Natural, and Open System Perspectives describes how an organization is a product of its environment. They draw the analogy to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, stating that only the strongest or most adaptable organizations survive. Chapter 5, “Organization of the Environment”,  describes how organizations are developed, how new organizational populations are created, how organizations are shaped by political and social influences, how organizations take on different forms by the demands of their populations, and how organizations strategically respond to all given demands.

In creating organizations, there is usually a meeting of minds. Often times these minds are of similar cultures, ideologies and ethnic backgrounds (Scott and Davis, 2007). Along with these individuals, it is highly likely that an external organization will take part in the birthing and nurturing of a new organization through different tips for success or through financial backing (Scott and Davis, 2007).

Most developing organizations use an existing target population as similar business. They have similar products and similar marketing strategies to their competitors and market to the same audiences. A great example of this would be a large grocery or department store. In targeting populations, new organizations often use current “imprinting”, which refers to a given set of noms and conditions that a population is already used to – for weeding out certain sections of a given population (Scott and Davis, 2007).

Once an organization is established, it fights for the limited resources in is subject specific arena. From populations to products, organizations are constantly shifting and molding to different external forces. According to Scott and Davis (2007), organizations have three types of frameworks for dealing with the social, political, and cultural strains on an organizations. These frameworks are regulative, normative, and cultural cognitive. The regulative framework is the most visible and easy to change element of an organization. It is often able to respond quickly to the demands of external factors. Normative is the day-to-day operations of the organization. This sections is slightly slower to respond to demands and often takes some getting used to by both the public and internal employees. Finally there is the cultural cognitive framework. This framework usually lies at the heart of the institution and is usually the hardest and slowest element to alter. It is traditionally made of the values and beliefs of the given organization. Often, the only way of changing this framework is through a complete reorganization of the institution, the disassembly of the organization, or through a merger where interests shift (Scott and Davis, 2007).

Finally, organizations often have to give into specific demands of their environment. For example, organizations will often respect the given cultural celebrations and customs of it given environment. By appeasing these customs, an organization shows that it is integrated into its given community. Scott and Davis (2007) also describe that organizations are bound by political factors and regulations outside of their control. For example, there are specific rules and regulations that all business have to abide by for public safety and social cohesion. If organizations do not follow these policies they risk being fined, sued, or shut down. Finally, Scott and Davis (2007) depict organizations as servants to the given resources and economic factors. Organizations will often times have to change strategies quickly to keep populations interested, purchasing, and happy. For example, with the economic downturn, many organizations had to lower their prices, lay off employees, or create new products in order to stay afloat.

Strengths and Critiques

The book chapter is clearly organized. The chapter opens with a brief introduction about organizations and their environments. It then discusses organizations from their conception, to their struggles, and concludes with their demise or triumph. This makes it easy for the reader to follow the theory and almost provides a visual about the life of an organization.

The contribution to the field is not very strong as it provides little information on how to build an organization, however, the article does provide insight into the initial success of organizations and provides a glimpse of why certain organizations fail or succeed. By providing a brief look at the stages of an organization, one is able to use this structure to reflect upon their specific institution to begin to understand the shortfalls and successes  of the organization due to its external environment.

Scott and Davis (2007) do not have strong data collection methods. Most of the information is built upon other research theorists within the given field. The strength of their theory relies upon  controlled situations and explanations of how basic commonalities are often seen in common organizational history.

Scott and Davis’ (2007) findings seem convincing as they use logical examples to explain and describe their theoretical ideals. It seems like their findings could be used as a reflective tool for both researchers and administration in an organization.

Personal Use

Compared to other readings that I have observed about organizational theory and development, Scott and Davis (2007) focus on the influences of external factors on an organizational environment rather than looking at the specific structure of the organization. This chapter developed a new research perspective that I can look at when developing a growth plan for the Academic Affairs Department at the College of Medicine – Phoenix. When looking at external factors, I need to consider the cultural, political and social impacts on the department and the university as a whole. I need to think of the budgetary factors involved as the main investor in the university are external persons. Although the budget is allocated by upper management at the university, the budget is determined by state legislators. This political factor could potentially affect a growth plan that I develop.

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