Robert E. Quinn and Kim Cameron’s article Organizational Life Cycles and Shifting Criteria of Effectiveness: Some Preliminary Evidence describes the cycle of changes that often takes place for businesses as they look to grow and acquire market share. The authors of this article focus on a number of different theoretical frameworks which have been developed to understand the various changes that businesses undergo as they are morphing into what they will be. One of the things that the authors of this article constantly noted was the learning curve of companies in the beginning. During the early stages of development, many companies are just learning how to conduct business overall. Some do not even have operating structures, and they are all figuring out their place within the market.
The article describes the ways in which companies effectively grow up. They learn who they are in the first part of development, and after they learn these critical things, these companies make progress by gaining knowledge and seeking out research about their future direction. It is during the middle stages of development that they learn their strengths, and they begin to focus their resources on these things. The authors describe the momentum that companies get when they are in this stage, and those companies use that momentum to attain the resources necessary for further development.

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The authors describe the later stages for fully evolved companies. When those companies reach later stages, they lose control to some extent, as they begin to delegate in order to really grow their market share. After they develop in this way, different sub-groups within the company have independent goals, and those goals can often undermine the overall operating objectives of the company. This can cause fracturing and ensure that the business’s whole is not nearly as much as the sum of its parts.

This topic is important because it helps businesses and directors deal with the challenges that they will face. By being aware of what companies have gone through, companies can put into place structures that will help them navigate these different stages. They can learn to grow in the early going and survive deep fracturing after achieving certain growth objectives.

  • Quinn, R. E., & Cameron, K. (1983). Organizational life cycles and shifting criteria of effectiveness: Some preliminary evidence. Management science, 29(1), 33-51.