chapter  1
15 Pages

The State of the Art

The twin topics of company strategy and organizational design which are the foci of attention in this book have already been the subject of a very substantial body of literature. This has been aimed both at providing advice and guidance for practising managers, and also at enhancing our theoretical understanding of the phenomena. There can be little doubt that there is a great deal of wisdom incorporated in it. However, it is also clear that our knowledge is still grossly inadequate, and that a great deal remains to be done to improve this state of affairs. One of the factors, which both causes and reflects this inadequacy, is the lack of a cumulative impact in much of the work. This is at least partly a consequence of the failure to develop over-arching theoretical frameworks within which it is possible to synthesize the many and various theoretical ideas and empirical findings. The main purpose of the present work is to attempt to establish one such framework which may provide a useful way of integrating at least part of what we currently know or think we know in this area. The framework suggested will be based on the combination of the general approach used in ecology with a variety of ideas from systems theory. The main thrust of the present work relates to business firms. However, as much of the previous work and many of the arguments to be advanced would seem to be applicable to organizations generally, the discussion wherever possible will relate to all or most employing organizations, although some sections will refer specifically to companies, which in the present context refers largely to privately owned commercial and industrial concerns. However, before embarking on the main exercise it should prove useful to start with a consideration of the present state of the art.