This paper deals with the study of organisational dynamics (epigenetic dynamics, as it is called in this text) that arise from the processes to adapt to unstable and turbulent environments. Unlike the prevailing Darwinist approach, which considers that the adaptation of social organisations to change happens slowly and moderately, our argument suggests fast transformation processes that enable adaptation to unstable environments. The paper thus presents the concept of ‘epigenetic dynamics’, which is defined as dynamics that are generated as a consequence of the adaptation of organisations to changes in their respective environments. The concept of epigenetics comes from the latest breakthroughs in biology in recent years, particularly in the field of molecular biology.
In this paper we draw an analogy between businesses and geographic spaces. Thus, we analyse activities, resources, routines and strategies observed in companies, and how these can determine not only their adaptation to changes in the environment, but also the impact of businesses on the territory. We go from the organisational level to the territorial level, studying how dynamics and the ability to adapt observed in the former influence the dynamics in the latter. Our goal is to establish whether the dynamics observed on both levels can be classed as epigenetic, based on the aforementioned definition, and if so, to study how said dynamics affects organisations and the territory. The reason why we aim to relate the dynamics observed in organisations with those at geographic level is that in the case of business groups that are deeply rooted in their respective territorial spaces (like the three industrial groups we have studied in our paper), the context (and the institutions that are part of it) seems to be much more central when explaining the behaviour and evolutionary dynamics behind said groups.
Specifically, we will place emphasis on a routine that is present in all types of organisations as a way to achieve said adaptation: decision-making. To do this, our focus will be a detailed study of decision-making in three business groups belonging to Mondragón Corporation (MCC).