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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.

Suggested Citation

  • Cordes, Christian & Richerson, Peter J. & Schwesinger, Georg, 2010. "How corporate cultures coevolve with the business environment: The case of firm growth crises and industry evolution," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 76(3), pages 465-480, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:76:y:2010:i:3:p:465-480
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    Cited by:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Schwesinger, Georg & Müller, Stephan & Lundan, Sarianna M., 2016. "Governance Structures, Cultural Distance, and Socialization Dynamics: Further Challenges for the Modern Corporation," Annual Conference 2016 (Augsburg): Demographic Change 145907, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    4. Stefan Krabel & Alexander Schacht, 2014. "Follow the leader? How leadership behavior influences scientists' commercialization behavior (or not)," Economics of Innovation and New Technology, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(2), pages 134-160, March.
    5. Fabrizio Panebianco, 2016. "The role of persuasion in cultural evolution dynamics," International Review of Economics, Springer;Happiness Economics and Interpersonal Relations (HEIRS), vol. 63(3), pages 233-258, September.
    6. Murmann Johann Peter & Korn Jenny & Worch Hagen, 2014. "How Fast Can Firms Grow?," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 234(2-3), pages 210-233, April.
    7. Christian Cordes & Peter Richerson & Georg Schwesinger, 2014. "A corporation’s culture as an impetus for spinoffs and a driving force of industry evolution," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 24(3), pages 689-712, July.
    8. Witt, Ulrich & Schwesinger, Georg, 2013. "Phylogenetic footprints in organizational behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(S), pages 33-44.
    9. Christian Cordes & Tong-Yaa Su & Pontus Strimling, 2015. "Going Through a Crisis: Firm Devekopment and Firm SIze Distributions," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2015-06, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    10. Christian Cordes, 2014. "There are several ways to incorporate evolutionary concepts into economic thinking," Papers on Economics and Evolution 2014-02, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
    11. Stoelhorst, J.W. & Richerson, Peter J., 2013. "A naturalistic theory of economic organization," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 90(S), pages 45-56.

    More about this item

    Keywords

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

    JEL classification:

    • D21 - Microeconomics - - Production and Organizations - - - Firm Behavior: Theory
    • L10 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - General
    • M13 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - New Firms; Startups
    • M14 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Corporate Culture; Diversity; Social Responsibility
    • C61 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Optimization Techniques; Programming Models; Dynamic Analysis

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