The strategic and the stratigraphic: a working paper on the dynamics of organisational evolution.

PRICE, Ilfryn (2012). The strategic and the stratigraphic: a working paper on the dynamics of organisational evolution. In: EURAM 2012, Rotterdam, June 2012.


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Despite large debates over fundamental issues a broadly evolutionary paradigm of organisations is growing in legitimacy. It may though be preferable to replace the metaphor of the organisation as an organism with the literal assertion that both social organisations are ecologies (Weeks and Galunic, 2003). They are still classes of complex systems maintained, and specified by, replicators (or schemata Gell Mann 1994) but the interactor is not necessarily the individual organisation, or population of organisations. Conceptual evolution has been argued as a post-Kuhnian analysis of the scientific process (Hull 1988), a rival economic paradigm (references in Hodgson 1993), a view of strategy (e.g. Lloyd 1990) and an explanation of organisational transformation and learning (Price and Evans 1993, Price 1994, 1995).My concern in this paper is to compare strategic extinction and speciation events in both systems. The stratigraphic record shows a dominant pattern of extinctions and radiative speciations which then settle to stabilised ecosystems. The historical and commercial (or strategigraphic?) record illustrates a similar pattern (Rothschild 1990, Tylecote 1993, Arthur 1994). The causes of extinction events may be genuinely external to the system affected (e.g. asteroid impacts interrupting a reptilian dominated system cannot plausibly be traced to feedback processes in any coupled eco/ lithosphere) or they may be internal when the success of a particular replicator system disturbs a wider systemic balance (e.g. ice-house glaciations terminating plant dominated episodes of earth history). Strategic scale parallels of both forms of extinction event can be seen in commercial and technological history. Keywords Organisational evolution, Punctuated equilibrium, Narrative ecology, memetics,

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sheffield Business School Research Institute > Service Sector Management
Depositing User: Ilfryn Price
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2013 15:55
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2016 21:26

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