Organizational Contexts for Environmental Construction and Objectification Activity


William McKinley, Department of Management, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Carbondale, IL 62901, USA (


This paper argues that organizations are the source of an adaptation–construction cycle. In that cycle, the consequences of organizational adaptations to current environmental states are constructed by the organization's managers into new environmental states. Therefore organizational action in response to environmental conditions has both an adaptive component and an unintended environmental enactment component. The paper identifies attributes of adapting organizations that increase the level of managerial activity devoted to environmental construction and objectification. The theoretical logic of delineating these organizational attributes moves the paper beyond present versions of enactment theory, ‘social construction of reality’ theory, and structuration theory to focus on predictors of variation in concrete activity resulting in environmental construction and objectification. Based on the discussion of the organizational predictors, propositions to be tested in future empirical research are offered. Also, the propositions are used to suggest extensions to enactment theory, social construction of reality theory, structuration theory, and contemporary versions of neo-institutional theory. These extensions are detailed in the discussion section.