A Theory of the Emergence of Organizational Form: The Dynamics of Cross-border Knowledge Production by Indian Firms

Gita Surie, Adelphi University, and Harbir Singh, Management, The Wharton School

Emergence: Complexity and Organization, Volume 15, Number 4, Oct 2013, pp. 37-75

Abstract: This paper uses a complex systems perspective to develop a theory of how human interaction dynamics (HID)-strategic decision processes and organizational mechanisms-for knowledge production under uncertainty give rise to a new organizational form. Our theoretical framework is derived from an inductive study of the international expansion of 14 Indian biotechnology and software firms. It suggests that to manage the knowledge production cycle dynamically under uncertainty firms must: (1) use a decision process driven by entrepreneurial aspirations and opportunity seeking; (2) adopt a variety of organizational mechanisms to acquire, exchange and appropriate knowledge. Over time, adopting these mechanisms leads to the emergence of a complex organizational system and a new organizational form-heteromorphic organizational form (H-form). Coupling evolving aspirations with mechanisms associated with H-form organization to manage knowledge production provides new insights into how fine-grained interactions during international expansion give rise to the emergence of coarse-grained properties, regularities and structure.

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