UCL School of Management

Research project

Open-ended organization


This research—conducted at internationally renowned high-end culinary R&D laboratories including the Fat Duck Experimental Kitchen in Bray, the Noma Test Kitchen in Copenhagen, and the Modernist Cuisine Lab in Bellevue—documents how open-ended member roles allow groups to monitor their environment and adapt their internal structure and goals to accommodate unpredictable environmental change. While open-ended roles support adaptability, they make systematic new member acquisition through conventional selection-based hiring difficult or impossible. I describe negotiated joining, a novel alternative process distinct from selection for acquiring new members into open-ended roles.


Management research to date assumes and prescribes that roles should be pre-defined before new members are acquired to fill them. However, organizations operating in uncertain environments cannot fully pre-define their member roles. This study documents generalizable processes that organizations can use to systematically manage new member acquisition into open-ended, partly undefined roles. It also shows how open-ended roles promote group adaptability by providing both motivation and opportunity for members to modify the organization by negotiating and constructing useful—and potentially novel—roles for themselves. 

Selected publications

Tan, V. Y. H. (2015). Using Negotiated Joining to Construct and Fill Open-ended Roles in Elite Culinary Groups. Administrative Science Quarterly, 60 (1), 103-132. doi:10.1177/0001839214557638 [link]
Last updated Monday, 7 September 2015


Research groups

Strategy & Entrepreneurship

Research areas

Organization theory; Social psychology of organizations; Strategic management

Research topics

Absorptive capacity; Adaptability; Adaptation; Group dynamics; Group processes; Group structure; Management of innovation; Organisational adaptation; Organisational design; R&D management