Generating Corporate Life Cycles from the Paradigm Life Cycle
24 Pages Posted: 7 May 2012 Last revised: 25 Sep 2012
Date Written: November 25, 2011
Purpose – A popular way of understanding the dynamics of organisational change is through the preconfigured sequence of stages in a corporate life cycle, and there are a number of competing models for this. In all of them a sequence of stages is defined that configures the life cycle deterministically. However, little discussion is given for these models of how organisations shift between stages, and none appear to take dominance in the literature. A major criticism of these models is that they do not represent complex organisational processes of change. In this paper an alternative model is proposed called the paradigm life cycle, which is connected to the homeostatic processes that maintain an organisation, and which is in principle capable of generating corporate life cycles under conditions of complexity.
Design/methodology/approach – The idea of the paradigm was made famous by Kuhn (1970), when he discussed the way in which paradigms change from normal to revolutionary mode. Adopting a broader frame of reference for the paradigm life cycle, as created by Funtowicz and Ravetz (1993), four modes of change are proposed that are consistent with those of Kuhn. While Kuhn was interested in the scientific paradigm, our interest lies on the corporate paradigm. The paper considers the nature of the dominant corporate paradigm, its change, failure or survival, and its relationship with the homeostatic organisation.
Findings – A corporate paradigm is a cognitive map of organisational culture, patterns of thinking, and behavioural norms that change with the organisation. The paper shows how this can, in principle, be used to generate a configuration of stages in a corporate life cycle for the complex organisation. An illustration of this is made through reference to a particular pre-configured corporate life cycle.
Research limitations/implications – While in principle a corporate life cycle could be generated from the paradigm life cycle for a given organisational situation and context, no case study is provided to illustrate how this would be undertaken. However, a sketch of how this might be done is provided.
Practical implications – This paper can help managers to understand the dynamics of their own organisation, and has the potential to anticipate new points of crisis.
Originality/value – This paper offers a paradigm life cycle that is based on modern principle of cybernetics that draws on complexity, and has the theoretical capability of generating particular corporate life cycles.
Keywords: corporate paradigms, paradigm change, modes of change, paradigm life cycle, corporate life cycle
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation