How Environmental Complexity Leads to Structural Complexity

The growth of corporations in contemporary society has prompted a recent surge in endeavors to comprehend them. The development of a systematic, methodical, and integrated plan of events to be undertaken in the case of tragedy or catastrophe endangering a firm’s stability is known as environmental complexity (Williams et al., 2017). Additionally, Williams et al. (2017) insinuate that ecological complexity is the number of components in an organization with interdependence and the number of resources involved in a company’s project. In an intensely challenging and volatile business world, it is vital for companies in principle, particularly those without reference to financial instruments, to consider this context and its sophistication (Williams et al., 2017).

On the other side, a business is structurally complicated when it has many organizational structures, including subsidiaries, multiple shareholders, and suppliers (Lu & Shang, 2017). The organizational sophistication increases in proportion to the number of commodities or services provided, the number of venues, the type of work undertaken, and the proportion of people engaged (Lu & Shang, 2017). This paper aims at discussing how environmental complexity leads to the structural complexity of businesses and firms.

First, the organization’s adaptation to the environment reduces the organization’s risk of falling apart. Therefore, this is a strong point in expanding the organization by having more shareholders and suppliers. Parameters on structure present a different type of problem, which in return leads to modifications in the subsidiaries which brings about this interaction between the environment and the system (Menezes et al., 2021).

Considering this as environmental complexity helps improve the organization’s status in making it stable by increasing the number of components in the organization with their interdependent variables (Menezes et al., 2021). However, environment complexity interactively predicts firms’ and businesses’ unit performance and satisfaction.

Second, the combination of conditions in the general and specific environment of the system is related to unit outcomes. Alves et al. (2017) enumerate that empirical analysis shows this pattern, and results may align with the global clinical assessments, which were the foundation of contingency theory. Alves et al. (2017) suggest that the distinction between general and specific conditions of the environment is essential and not just a methodological dispute. Furthermore, the data also reconfirm the evolution of the environmental literature beyond the assessment of volatility alone (Alves et al., 2017). Their study demonstrated that the interactive combination representing the overall complexity of the environment was significant in predicting performance and satisfaction, thus bringing about the structural complexity.

Third, environmental diversity engenders the notion of dismantling organizations that consolidate and systematize decision-making following sophistication science’s arguments. Organizations are considered evolutionary processes in that the consequences of personnel and consumer interactions are uncertain (Sweetman & Conboy, 2018). As a result, when needless constraints are withdrawn, organizations must conform to their circumstances. Significant to public relations professionals is that the concepts of complex dynamic systems demand the development of a more open model that allows for the unfolding and impact of institutional and stakeholder contributions.

Internal settings are significantly more complicated than more organized and organized structural components. Organic structures are more imaginative than mechanical components, which are more practical (Sweetman & Conboy, 2018). An earlier study on corporate structure revealed that a close match between internal and exterior complexity was necessary (Sweetman & Conboy, 2018).

Using complex systems in times of volatility and technical components in prosperous times was an effective method for business success. However, further analysis by Alves et al. (2017) predicated on the contingency theorem discovered that managers prefer a mechanical system during stormy circumstances and a more organic one during periods of remission. This environmental complexity, therefore, leads to structural complexity as equilibrium is attained.

Fourth, environmental heterogeneity, combined with rigid conceptual frameworks and resource reliance, impairs a company’s ability to adapt to its environment. A complex disaster is a real possibility for huge companies with numerous interconnections (Williams et al., 2017). The more the interdependence, the greater the risk of conflict, limiting the variety of possible solutions. Conflicting limitations make change challenging since a positive adjustment in one section of the network can have a ripple effect and have a negative effect in another.

Highly interdependent structures, such as major software applications, aircraft engine architectures, and international treaties, can occasionally become so complicated that they become impenetrable to modification. Concerning the additional hurdles to flexibility, Williams et al. (2017) discovered that the most established structural architectures perform best in a supportive environment since they depend on senior executives’ expertise. Additionally, Williams et al. (2017) predicted that it is often faster to replace executives than to influence their cognitive structures when ecological conditions evolve and companies become more complicated.

Williams et al. (2017) classified resource-dependent organizations as having fewer maneuverable dimensions of liberty. For instance, a highly technical company comparably endowed in cleaning supplies would have a tough time restructuring itself to capitalize on growth prospects in biotechnology due to budget constraints (Williams et al., 2017). To address environmental heterogeneity, it is recommended that businesses build homogeneous and strongly supporting organizational architecture, both structural and procedural.

Fifth, the interdependence of the stakeholders and the components available in an organization needs strategic activities when faced with a complex operation. In their corporate management and public interactions model, Jabbar and Hussein (2017) opined that identifying and segmenting stakeholders transforms them into proactive and reactive public. According to them, engaging the public is the most significant, meaningful, and impactful constituent of a corporation, and their perspectives must be included in corporate objectives.

Additionally, they recommended businesses conduct cost-benefit analyses when confronted with strategic components that exceed the capacity of corporate assets to suffice. Ndlela (2019) proposed a four-step approach for valuing stakeholders, which begins with distinguishing them according to their link to the company and categorizing them according to their features and connections to the specific circumstance. Finally, Ndlela (2019) suggests that stakeholders be acknowledged by addressing the public in effective communication techniques. As a result, this could mitigate the risk of complex tragedies to some extent.

In conclusion, environmental sophistication, regarded as the total quantity of resources used in a venture, appears to be beneficial to business. It adds to its entrepreneurial orientation and structural diversity, allowing it to adapt to the operating context more effectively. The post-industrial age is characterized by an increase in understanding and abilities, aggressive and technical developments, and environmental complexity. A corporation can withstand market and technological uncertainty if its library of skills and expertise is continuously enlarged, and its capacity to use that diversity is accordingly enhanced. Environmental complexity benefits the organization by assisting it in adapting and adjusting to its evolving landscape, resulting in structural diversity. Many difficulties in a firm’s surroundings should work as motivators to overcome them to the highest standard possible.


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