Operationalising Organisational and Environmental Complexity Coalignment of the Pakistani Mobile Telecommunications Industry

  • Saadia Shafeeq-Uddin

Student thesis: Master of Philosophy


Organisational theorists have traditionally positioned their research questions towards organisations controlling and reducing the level of complexity faced by them (Stacy, 1995). However this approach has recently been challenged by complexity theorists, who believe that organisations that increase their internal complexities, as they face turbulent external complexities, will have superior performance than those with more complexity reductionist strategies (Ashmos and Duchon, 2000; Boisot and Child, 1999; Ashby, 1958). Yet one of the main problems in complexity research is that the concept has various different definitions and not a lot of empirical data supporting it. Literature has also presented evidence that alignment of organisations with their environment enables them to be competitive (De Wit and Meyer, 2010), innovative (Lawrence and Dyer, 1983; Fiol and Lyles, 1985), improves performance (Snow and Miles, 2001; Prieto and de Carvalho, 2010) and ensures their survival (Thompson, 1967). The aim of the present thesis is to operationalise the organisational and environmental complexity in the context of the mobile telecommunications industry of Pakistan, which will explore the constructs of complexity and the relationships between them. Semi‚Äźstructured interview questions are designed on the basis of a preliminary framework, that is formulated from literature. 24 industrial participants are interviewed, and a thematic analysis is conducted on the transcripts in order to identify complexity constructs and the coalignment between them. This thesis will also present a final framework that identifies 8 main constructs and their 13 subconstructs of internal organisational complexity, and 8 main constructs and their 9 subconstructs of external organisational complexity and various linkages between them. The results also show that management of organisations in the context researched, do not perceive their organisations and their environment from the view of complexity, and in order to do so should employ complexity leadership (McKelvey, 2010; Lichenstein, et al, 2006). This thesis will contribute towards a better understanding of the concept of complexity, as well as formulate a model that will have practical uses for the improvement of organisational adaption for Pakistani telecommunications operators. Future implications of this model is that it can be used as a preliminary framework for research in telecommunications industry in other contexts.
Date of Award1 Aug 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorPaul Jackson (Supervisor) & Thomas Kirchmaier (Supervisor)


  • Organisational Complexity
  • Environmental Complexity
  • Mobile Telecommunications
  • Pakistan
  • Complexity Coalignment

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