1.Organizational structure refers to the formalized patterns of interactions that link a firm's tasks,technologies, and people.

2.Organizational structure refers to the formalized patterns of the interactions that link a firm's tasks,technologies, and people.

    Do the two sentences have same meanings? In the two sentences,the relative pronounThat represent whom, is it patterns or interactions? I'm confused about the rule- relative pronoun represents the noun/pronoun just before it. I belive, in the first sentence, THAT represent THE FORMALIZED PATTERNS (specifically PATTERNS), and in the second sentence, THAT represents THE INTERACTIONS, is it correct?

Can I rewrite the first sentance in the following way? 

--Organizational structure refers to the interaction's formalized patterns that link a firm's tasks,technologies, and people.

In this sentence,  the relative pronoun that represents the noun patterns, but not instructions, doesn't it?

  • The only difference between your two sentences it the addition of the in the second sentence. I fail to see how you are comparing the two when your focus is on the use of that, which exists in both. In other words, your question isn't represented by the examples you chose. Commented Mar 7, 2019 at 20:20

1 Answer 1


That's actually a hard sentence to parse. That is introducing a restrictive clause, meaning it's important to know the antecedent of that. The second version has, I think, only one parse - where that refers to interactions. Without that definite article, that may refer to interactions, or to formalised patterns of interactions. This is because "formalised patterns of interactions" is a noun phrase in itself, so it can be the antecedent of a relative pronoun.

Your rewrite doesn't work in either case, not least because the genitive -'s can't always be used to substitute for a genitive of. However, the fact that the that changes antecedent is a big part of it - you are now saying it's the patterns that link, which is a complete change of meaning if the antecedent of that was interactions, and still a change of meaning if the antecedent was formalised patterns of interactions.

Plus you changed interactions from plural to singular in that rewrite.

  • If a cricket player =a player of cricket, then why not the formalized patterns of interections=the interections' formalized patterns? why does the second rewriting have the differenet meaning from its original, although first one has not. Commented Mar 8, 2019 at 5:28

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