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Abstract

This paper examines some of the organizational and behavioural consequences of uncertainty through consideration of a case study. An industrial firm and its problems are described and an attempt is made to understand the origins of the situation using a systems analysis which draws on constructs from the structural, the behavioural and the ‘bureaucratic’ traditions within organization theory. The analysis demonstrates: that the problems are interrelated and stem from the structural arrangements in the firm which are unable to cope with the prevailing uncertainties; that the behavioural difficulties may be seen as manifestations of the underlying structural/environmental mismatch; and, that the problems are exacerbated by apparently logical but paradoxically inappropriate managerial choices and responses. The implications of this study for theory, practice and method are discussed.