Evolution and Revolution as Organizations Grow

Posted: 17 Nov 2009  

Larry E. Greiner

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business

Date Written: 1972

Abstract

Examines the impact that a firm's history has on the future of the firm. Firms pass through a series of developmental phases as they grow. Each of these phases begins with a period of calm ("evolution") and ends with a management crisis ("revolution"). By considering the history of the firm, i.e. the previous phases, the management of a growing firm can anticipate the next crisis and better prepare to deal with it. Five dimensions are identified as key to the development of this model. They are the age of the organization, the size of the organization, stages of evolution, stages of revolution, and growth rate of the industry. Based on these dimensions, the five phases of development for growing firms are identified. Each of these five phases starts with growth. The management styles which highlight these stages are creativity, direction, delegation, coordination, and collaboration, respectively. The crises that end each phase are leadership, autonomy, control, and red tape, respectively. Based on these phases, several recommendations are made for managers including understanding where the firm is in the developmental sequence and recognizing the limited range of solutions. (SRD)

Keywords: Industry growth, Organizational history, Organizational stages, Organizational structures, Firm growth, Firm management, Growth firms, Organizational change, Evolution model, Firm size, Firm age, Firm control, Management techniques, Coordination, Communication in management, Leadership

Suggested Citation

Greiner, Larry E., Evolution and Revolution as Organizations Grow (1972). Harvard Business Review, Vol. 50, Issue 4, p. 37-46 1972. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1504482

Larry E. Greiner (Contact Author)

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business ( email )

701 Exposition Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

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