Date of Award

12-2011

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Business Administration

Major Professor

Donde A. Plowman

Committee Members

Anne D. Smith, Stephanie Bohon, T. Russell Crook

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to develop the construct of organizational hardiness which is thought to distinguish organizations that thrive under conditions of turbulence and uncertainty from organizations that whither under these same conditions. This new construct is based on individual hardiness which is a constellation of personality dispositions that a large body of empirical work has suggested supports individual performance under conditions of turbulence and uncertainty. Paralleling the individual hardiness dispositions of challenge, commitment, and control, organizational hardiness is posited to consist of the organizational level constructs of sensemaking, organizational identification, and enactment. The development of organizational hardiness is supported by literature reviews of individual hardiness, organizational stress, sensemaking, organizational identification, and enactment.

To support the theoretical development of this construct, this study includes a content analysis of the CEO letters to shareholders for the 20 largest commercial banks in the United States during the years 2000-2009. Using generalized least squares estimation techniques, the current study demonstrates a positive relationship between organizational hardiness, sensemaking, organizational identification, and enactment and multiple measures of organizational performance. Furthermore, organizations demonstrating higher levels of organizational hardiness demonstrate higher levels of organizational performance on three out of four measures. The study concludes with a discussion of theoretical and managerial implications concerning the development of this new construct.

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