When do generalists change more than specialists? Problem-driven and slack-driven change in labor allocation

Yeojin Kim, Mooweon Rhee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The existing literature has reached contradictory empirical conclusions regarding the tendency for generalist and specialist organizations to change their status quo. Some have posited that generalists are less likely to change than specialists, while others have posited the opposite. This article explores when generalists and specialists change their allocations of labor resources by delving into two different mechanisms: (1) how they perform (problem-driven mechanism) and (2) how much extra resources they possess (slack-driven mechanism). Based on empirical evidence collected in the agricultural industry in South Korea, we find that specialists are more likely to change in accordance with a problem-driven mechanism, whereas generalists are more prone to react to a slack-driven mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270-292
Number of pages23
JournalStrategic Organization
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2022 May

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Martin Ruef, Timothy Ott, Chris Bingham, Rich Bettis, Kelly Patterson, Chris Bail, Elena Kulchina, and the session participants at the 2016 Academy of Management annual meeting for their invaluable comments on prior versions of the paper. They also thank agricultural economists Jeongho Kim and Hyejeong Kang for helping with data collection and sharing their insights into the industry, as well as Glen Dowell (coeditor) and three anonymous reviewers for providing excellent guidance and constructive feedback that substantially improved the manuscript. This work was supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea(NRF-2020S1A5A2A01045000) The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2020.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Education
  • Industrial relations
  • Strategy and Management


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