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Co-evolutionary Dynamics Within and Between Firms: From Evolution to Co-evolution


  • Henk W. Volberda
  • Arie Y. Lewin


The extensive selection-adaptation literature spans diverse theoretical perspectives, but is inconclusive on the role of managerial intentionality in organizational adaptation. Indeed this voluminous literature has more to say about selection and sources and causes of structural inertia than about self-renewing organizations that might counteract such inertia. In this introductory essay, we identify four co-evolutionary generative mechanisms (engines) - naïve selection, managed selection, hierarchical renewal and holistic renewal - which illustrate the extensive range of evolutionary paths that can take place in a population of organizations. In particular, the managed selection engine provides the foundations of the underlying principles of co-evolving self-renewing organizations: managing internal rates of change, optimizing self-organization, and balancing concurrent exploration and exploitation. However, it is altogether clear that empirical co-evolution research represents the next frontier for empirically resolving the adaptation selection debate. The essay concludes with a discussion of requirements for co-evolutionary empirical research and introduces the empirical papers in this Special Research Symposium. Copyright 2003 Blackwell Publishing Ltd..

Suggested Citation

  • Henk W. Volberda & Arie Y. Lewin, 2003. "Co-evolutionary Dynamics Within and Between Firms: From Evolution to Co-evolution," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(8), pages 2111-2136, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jomstd:v:40:y:2003:i:8:p:2111-2136

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