The doctoral dissertations of the former Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and Aalto University Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI) published in electronic format are available in the electronic publications archive of Aalto University - Aaltodoc.

The Process of Organisational Adaptation Through Innovations, and Organisational Adaptability

Tommi Tikka

Doctoral dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission of the Faculty of Information and Natural Sciences for public examination and debate in Auditorium TU1 at the Aalto University School of Science and Technology (Espoo, Finland) on the 21st of May 2010 at 12 noon.

Dissertation in PDF format (ISBN 978-952-60-3066-1)   [9792 KB]
Dissertation is also available in print (ISBN 978-952-60-3065-4)


This study is about the process of organisational adaptation and organisational adaptability. The study generates a theoretical framework about organisational adaptation behaviour and conditions that have influence on success of organisational adaptation. The research questions of the study are: How does an organisation adapt through innovations, and which conditions enhance or impede organisational adaptation through innovations?

The data were gathered from five case organisations within one industrial service company. The study applied the case study approach and grounded theory as research methodologies. Primary data were acquired through group and individual interviews. The themes of the interviews were constructed on the basis of outcomes of a pilot study. Other data sources included participant observations, direct observations, discussions, and documents of the organisations.

The theoretical domain covered by the study includes resource dependence theory, contingency theories, evolutionary theories of change, and theories of organisational adaptation, organisational innovation, organisational learning, and organisational creativity.

The study suggests that organisational adaptation behaviour can be conceptualised as a circular phase model consisting of phases of triggering, search, implementation, change, and retention. The triggering phase has sub-phases of scanning, performance monitoring, innovation institutionalisation, and coping. The study suggests that organisational adaptation can take place at multiple levels in the organisational hierarchy and it can be carried out through balanced or unbalanced adaptations. The study recognised 20 categories of conditions that can enhance or impede organisational adaptation through innovations.

The results of the study contribute to the understanding of organisational adaptation behaviour and adaptability and they offer a conceptual framework through which phenomena can be studied further. The results can be utilised in development of organisational adaptability in business organisations.

Keywords: organisational adaptation, organisational adaptability, organisational innovation, organisational learning, organisational memory

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© 2010 Aalto University School of Science and Technology

Last update 2011-05-26