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Organizational decline: A yet largely neglected topic in organizational studies


  • Fernando A. Ribeiro Serra

    () (Universidade Nove de Julho e HSM Educação)

  • Martinho Ribeiro Almeida

    () (Universidade de São Paulo)

  • Manuel Portugal Ferreira

    () (Instituto Politécnico de Leiria)


Well known and reputable corporations, not only the small entrepreneurial firms, also face organizational decline and failure. Albeit organizational decline is a reality, there is a notable scarcity of research on the topic. Organizational decline is more often studied in small companies and attributed to the liability of newness and a lack of a variety of physical, technological, financial and social resources. In this review paper we examine the extant research on organizational decline. Empirically, we conduct a bibliometric study involving citations and co-citations analyses to uncover the connections between authors and theories used. We conclude that evolutionary theories support a considerable number of works, namely on the effects of inertia, isomorphism and adaptation. Sociological approaches have examined the adjustment of the internal structures and actions to enhance positioning. Other research on decline has taken a learning and decision making perspective or focused on turnaround strategies. Noteworthy is also the scarcity of research using a resource-based view (RBV), perhaps because the emergence of the RBV in the 1990s coincided with strategy scholars? decreased interest on organizational decline. Notwithstanding, organizational decline is still one of the core areas of research for organizational ecologists.

Suggested Citation

  • Fernando A. Ribeiro Serra & Martinho Ribeiro Almeida & Manuel Portugal Ferreira, 2012. "Organizational decline: A yet largely neglected topic in organizational studies," Working Papers 88, globADVANTAGE, Polytechnic Institute of Leiria.
  • Handle: RePEc:pil:wpaper:88

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Alexandre Pavan Torres & Emílio Araujo Menezes & Fernando A. Ribeiro Serra & Manuel Portugal Ferreira, 2010. "The Decline of Large Brazilian Companies," Working Papers 57, globADVANTAGE, Polytechnic Institute of Leiria.
    2. Manuel Portugal Ferreira & Dan Li & Yong Suk Jang, 2007. "Foreign Entry Strategies: Strategic Adaptation To Various Facets Of The Institutional Environment," Working Papers 3, globADVANTAGE, Polytechnic Institute of Leiria.
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    More about this item


    bibliometric study; organizational decline; turnaround; organizational failure;

    JEL classification:

    • M0 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - General
    • M1 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration

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