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How corporate cultures coevolve with the business environment: The case of firm growth crises and industry evolution

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  • Cordes, Christian
  • Richerson, Peter J.
  • Schwesinger, Georg

Abstract

This paper shows how cognitive human dispositions that take effect at the level of an individual firm's corporate culture have repercussions on an industry's evolution. In our theory, the latter is attributable to evolving corporate cultures coupled with changes in a firm's business environment. With the help of a formal model of evolving corporate cultures, we demonstrate how firms can establish a cooperative cultural regime that yields competitive advantages in an innovative, fast changing environment. Depending on within-firm social learning processes and cognitive constraints of human agents, organizations then reach a critical cognitive firm size in their development beyond which the level of cooperation deteriorates rapidly--they systematically face a growth crisis. Organizations successful in such an environment and reaching a critical technological size may, however, reap economies of scale in a later, mature and stable business environment with altered corporate culture. Furthermore, we relate these findings to empirical evidence on firm survival and performance in different industries, the evolution of organizational structures, and technological advancements in production technologies, and we identify some determinants of market structures.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 76 (2010)
Issue (Month): 3 (December)
Pages: 465-480

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:76:y:2010:i:3:p:465-480

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

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Keywords: Industry evolution Critical firm size Firm growth Corporate culture Human cognition;

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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Christian Cordes & Peter J. Richerson & Georg Schwesinger, 2011. "A Corporation's Culture as an Impetus for Spinoffs and a Driving Force of Industry Evolution," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2011-11, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  2. Witt, Ulrich & Schwesinger, Georg, 2013. "Phylogenetic footprints in organizational behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(S), pages S33-S44.
  3. Johann Peter Murmann & Jenny Korn & Hagen Worch, 2014. "How Fast Can Firms Grow?," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Department of Statistics and Economics, vol. 234(2-3), pages 210-233, April.
  4. Georg Schwesinger, 2013. "Natural and Economic Selection - Lessons from the Evo-Devo and Multilevel Selection Debate," Jena Economic Research Papers 2013-014, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, Max-Planck-Institute of Economics.
  5. Stoelhorst, J.W. & Richerson, Peter J., 2013. "A naturalistic theory of economic organization," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(S), pages S45-S56.
  6. Hiller, Victor & Verdier, Thierry, 2014. "Corporate culture and identity investment in an industry equilibrium," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 93-112.

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