Misfits in Organization Design: Information Processing as a Compensatory Mechanism

Ben Nanfeng Luo, Lex Donaldsen


We propose a compensatory misfits theory which holds that an “over-fitting” organization structure can compensate for an “under-fitting” structure, thereby reducing the total misfit. In organizations, over-fit occurs when structural features misfit the core contingencies because the structural level is too high to fit the contingencies. An under-fit occurs when structural features misfit the contingencies because the structural level is too low. When an under-fit is compensated by an over-fit, the combination can produce performance outcomes that approximate those from fit. The reason inheres in information processing being a higher level factor that cuts across different contingencies and structural features that are mis-fitted to each other, so that compensation is possible. We identify the specific conditions that must be fulfilled for compensation to occur, and we discuss implications for organization design theory and practice.


Over-fit; under-fit; misfit; fit; compensatory misfits; compensatory effect; contingency theory; information processing

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7146/jod.7359

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ISSN: 2245-408X

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