Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

An fsQCA analysis of Cognitive Organization Theory (COT): organization inertia and change cascades in Police Forces across the EU

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Karen ElliottORCiD


Full text for this publication is not currently held within this repository. Alternative links are provided below where available.


This paper brings together the notion of organizational inertia, a central concept within organizational ecology literature and Cognitive Organization Theory (COT) (Hannan et al., 2004, 2007). The latter emerging from the premise that organizational change affects the core aspects (routines) of an organization increases the likelihood of organizational mortality (Hannan and Freeman, 1984, Barnett and Carroll, 1995, Carroll and Hannan, 2000). COT explores the ‘black box’ of organizational inertia by investigating the factors that contribute to change cascades. That is, by initiating change in complex organizations, the alteration of core features of an organization may trigger unexpected cascades of change to features which were not the intended target of the change (Hannan et al., 2007: 234). The key concepts of this theory are organizational intricacy (i.e., complexity), organizational opacity (i.e., transparency), and cultural asperity (i.e., restrictiveness). The logic employed states that change cascades (i.e., the duration of change) increase(s) with an increase in organizational intricacy, opacity and cultural asperity. In this paper we test this logic using interview data from a large scale EU project (COMPOSITE) using data from over 165 interviews focusing on 180 change project (316 evaluations) conducted within 15 police forces across 10 European countries. We empirically investigate organization-change configurations using fuzzy-set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA). Our findings demonstrate support for COT, and the configurations identify how code violations in relation to organizational and change features influence the success or failure of organizational change projects and investigate the causal linkages between these core concepts.

Publication metadata

Author(s): van den Oord A, Elliott K, van Witteloostuijn A

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: Institute of Work Psychology International Conference

Year of Conference: 2014

Print publication date: 03/10/2014

Online publication date: 16/10/2014

Acceptance date: 09/01/2014

Publisher: Institue of Work Psychology