Title page for ETD etd-11092004-141346

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Choksi, Kashyap Nalin
URN etd-11092004-141346
Title a Strategic Approach to Managing Turbulence in the Normative Environment
Degree PhD
Department Public Administration and Public Affairs
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
White, Orion F. Jr. Committee Chair
Backer, Thomas E. Committee Member
Dudley, Larkin S. Committee Member
Jones, Judith H. Committee Member
Wolf, James F. Committee Member
  • organizational environment
  • defiance
  • strategic
  • nonprofit
  • isomorphism
Date of Defense 2004-09-07
Availability unrestricted
One of the central areas of focus in organizational theory that has been of particular interest is the organization-environment interface. While various theories have made vital contributions to the study of organization-environment relations, their emphasis on organization adaptation is varied. However, research and practice have amply demonstrated that organizations do not exist in a vacuum; that if an organization is to survive and meet its goals, it has to adapt to or somehow make accommodations with its cognitive and normative environment.

This study explores the issue of an organization trying to adapt to its normative environment by deeply examining the situation of a national private nonprofit organization, with ties to the land-grant university and college system, which found itself in the midst of a turbulent environment. Specifically, the study discusses how that nonprofit was affected by this turbulence when it accepted funding from the nation's largest tobacco company to develop and implement a tobacco prevention program. The act of this nonprofit accepting funds from the tobacco corporation caused challenges in internal management, worsened relations with some of its core constituencies, and fomented discord within leading non-profit organizations. The notion of turbulence, the mechanism of isomorphism as espoused by the new institutionalists, and the role of agency was explored, supplemented by a strategic approach that included components of contracting standards that organizations could adapt to attain congruency with elements of their turbulent normative environment. In particular, this strategic approach utilized a framework borrowed from research conducted by Oliver (1991), emphasizing strategies of Defiance, Manipulation and Avoidance. What this study offers is a strategic approach to help non-profit organizations when they partner with a controversial source of funding, especially in cases where they are faced with these kinds of management dilemmas.

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