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date: 22 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article examines the Aston Studies, a series of comparative investigations into the sources of organizational structure carried out over the 1960s and 1970s. They were essentially designed to test the notion that organizational structure must in some way fit its operational context, and that these contingent conditions could be ascertained in a universally determinative fashion. The question of ‘fit’ in the Aston exposition of contingency theory has been challenged at a number of levels. The article suggests that the assumption that statistical correlation offers a performative meaning to a relationship, while of evident heuristic value, has come to be questioned in the ideographic critique of some Aston researchers. In this sense, the Aston mission to establish a science of organizational design has been overtaken by applied research in organizational strategy, often driven by relatively limited measures of realized performance and with little concern for its wider social systemic implications.

Keywords: Aston research, contingency theory, organizational strategy, organizational structure

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