Contingency theory
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Contingency theory. SoS Liu Spring 2014 Per Åman. The price – performance trade-off. Fit and adaptation – structure and process. “It is not the strongest o f the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one that is most responsive to change” Charles Darwin.

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Contingency theory

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Contingency theory

SoS Liu

Spring 2014

Per Åman

The price – performance trade-off

Per Åman

Fit and adaptation – structure and process

“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one that is most responsive to change”

Charles Darwin

Two qualities: Structural fit – ability to adapt

Per Åman

Organizations are purposeful entities

Success is dependent upon

1. formulation of purpose (objective)

2. and delivery of the purpose (implementation)


Strategies are contingent/ dependent upon their context

Contingent upon what?

Per Åman

The search for ‘contingency factors’

What determines strategy and structure?

Task environment?

Environmental uncertainty

Stable (little change) – unstable (dynamic, fast changing)

‘Turbulence levels’ (Ansoff 1967), Burns and Stalker (1961)

Moderately dynamic – highly dynamic (Eisenhart, 1995, 2000)

2. Technology - Diversity of task environments

3. Size

Per Åman

Per Åman

Per Åman

Per Åman

Per Åman

Fit, alignment, congruency, consistency







After sales





Marketing and


Per Åman

Contingency theory, summary

  • Organizations are open systems

  • Structure, and therefore performance, is dependent upon the particular circumstances, situational factors, faced by each organization

  • There is no best way for all organizations but there is a one best way for each organization

Per Åman

The early strategy/ control paradigm

Environment – Strategy - Structure

Analysis – Formulation - Implementation

Contingency – congruency – consistency (external and internal fit)

Efficiency and effectiveness

Per Åman

A reflection on the early theories/ propositions

A teleological perspective

A machine metaphor

A utilitarian perspective – Darwin/2

A structural perspective – Darwin/2

Per Åman

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