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An Autecological Theory of the Firm and its Environment

Colin Jones, School of Management, Queensland University of Technology and Gimme Walter, School of Biological Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
The process of firm-level adaptation and survival have historically been of great interest to researchers of firms. However, these researchers have previously been denied an ecological framework within which to study the processes through which individual firms respond to and indeed, modify their individual environments. This book remedies this situation, providing the first comprehensive introduction to organisational autecology, or, the study of individual firms and the environments they interact with and typically modify to ensure their survival. In addition to establishing the theoretical and philosophical foundations of organisational autecology, the empirical application of this new approach is demonstrated and its future application to the domain of organisational studies is contemplated.
Extent: 240 pp
Hardback Price: $125.00 Web: $112.50
Publication Date: 2017
ISBN: 978 1 78471 100 9
Availability: In Stock

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  • Business and Management
  • Organisation Studies
  • Economics and Finance
  • Evolutionary Economics
The ecological study of firms has often been restricted by the approaches commonly used in organizational ecology. Uniquely, Colin Jones and Gimme Walter use autecology to explain the selective survival of all manner of firms that researchers, customers and resource providers encounter daily. It is the first work to unite views on the topic previously considered ‘alternative’, while remaining compatible with most theories of the firm.

Autecology encourages researchers to contextualize ecological processes of firms, namely, their adaptive behaviors, the structure and dynamics of the environment, and their environmental interactions. This book emancipates the firm and its actors from a host of environmental assumptions that they are thought to share with others. In doing so, the authors explain how and why firms can and should be investigated on an ecological level. Drawing upon the historical and contemporary renaissance of autecological thought, this book elevates the ecological independence of the firm and its actors’ agency to solve problems in its environment. This study provides the means to consolidate the ecological study of firms and, more broadly, other forms of ecological study beyond the domain of social studies.

This book will appeal to organizational and managerial researchers, sociologists, and anthropologists, given the manner in which human agency is promoted in an ecological context. Researchers interested in critical realism will also find this an engaging work.
‘An Autecological Theory of the Firm and its Environment posits many important challenges to how social scientists can properly understand organizational adaptation, evolution, and survival. The impressive autecological approach proposed in this book can shed new light on how both scholars and practitioners can interpret a number of phenomena associated with the current practice of business, especially in terms of firm–environment co-evolving relationships.’
– Gianpaolo Abatecola, University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, Italy

‘Jones and Walter present an alternative view for studying organizations as ecologies, namely the autecological approach. This novel approach to studying organizations centres on the co-evolving relationship between the individual firm and its operational environment. The adaptation of firms is viewed within the context of how they experience and modify their unique operational environments. This firm-centred approach highlights the importance of ecological scale and environment heterogeneity, and the unique relationship between different environmental variables and the firm.’
– Dermot Breslin, Sheffield University Management School, UK
Contents: PART I AN ALTERNATIVE THEORY OF THE FIRM 1. An alternative ecological theory of the firm and its environment PART II THE FIRM AND ITS ENVIRONMENT 2. What is a firm? 3. What is an environment? 4. Modification and matching PART III EXPLAINING ADAPTATION 5. A model of transferred demand PART IV TOWARDS AN AUTECOLOGICAL APPROACH 6. Methodological issues 7. Opportunities and future directions Index