Organizations will be central actors in societal adaptation to climate variability and change. But highly simplified assumptions are often made about the response of organizations to the stimulus of perceived or experienced climate change. This paper reviews recent literature, arguing that three approaches are applied in studies of organizational adaptation: utility-maximizing, behavioral, and institutional approaches. The paper argues that adaptive responses by organizations are conditioned by the processes of perception, evaluation, enactment, and learning by organizations. Organizational adaptation involves adjustments in each of these processes. The extent to which adaptive measures are taken by organizations will be influenced both by endogenous factors, such as the capability to innovate and attitudes to risk, as well as by the external economic and institutional context. Willingness to exercise available adaptation options will vary between organizations. Evidence of organizational adaptation from case studies and meta-analyses is reviewed. WIREs Clim Change 2012, 3:91–106. doi: 10.1002/wcc.154
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