Purpose – The purpose of the article is to contribute to the debate on organizational adaptation by providing both scholars and practitioners with reasoned observations as to where this research domain is and, perhaps, could be going, and as to what important questions and gaps still exist in this research area. Design/methodology/approach – The article tries to inform the conversation through updating the lenses of the “determinism versus voluntarism” approach seminally used by Astley and Ven de Ven for commenting on the state of the art in the 1980s. In particular, the article aims at enhancing the debate through a timely critical discussion of the extant literature, whose comparative analysis starts from the 1960s. Findings – The analysis mainly indicates that, since Astley and Van de Ven's milestone, the dichotomy between determinism and voluntarism has been reduced, although it still exists. The co‐evolutionary approach can constitute a promising tool for the further reducing of the dichotomy, but more research seems to be needed to improve its utility. Originality/value – The key contribution of this article is that it tries to shed light on how and why the discussed schools of thought have been theoretically and empirically evolving, what issues they have mainly addressed and if some visible or invisible colleges can be found among them. Moreover, the article analyses what scholarly positions still remain dichotomous to date and what positions scholars have reconciled, either totally or partially. Finally, it also proposes some possible avenues for further investigations within this research domain.
International Journal of Organizational Analysis – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jul 20, 2012
Keywords: Organizational adaptation; Co‐evolution; Darwinism; Organizational change; Evolution
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