A new contingency view of the organization: mananging complexity and uncertainty through cognition

This paper proposes a new contingency view of the organization and it contributes to the theme through two complementary perspectives. First, it proposes cognition as a function which acts as the main mediator between the organization and the environment. Second, it introduces cognition as the core organizational ability which supports individuals, groups and organizations with intelligence, autonomy, learning and knowledge management, whereas, in such a perspective, cognition is viewed as the core resource in the service of the organization. Both perspectives, the mediation and the core organizational resource views, imply that cognition contributes toward managing environmental complexity and uncertainty. From this picture, this work analyzes the organization in the pursuit of high degrees of organizational cognition in order to manage high levels of environmental complexity and uncertainty. Grounded in these views, this paper presents a model of the organization as a set of fuzzy abilities. From all these backgrounds, this research opens new directions for future research on organizational abilities which subsume cognition, intelligence, autonomy, learning and knowledge management as important elements of organizational analysis.

organizational ability; cognition; environmental uncertainty; complex systems


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