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Firm size and environmental scanning pursuits across organizational life cycle stages

Donald L. Lester (Jennings Jones College of Business, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, USA)
John A. Parnell (School of Business Administration, University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Pembroke, North Carolina, USA)

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Article publication date: 8 August 2008



This paper aims to present the results of an exploratory study of the organizational life cycle. Rather than approaching the construct from a small‐ or large‐ firm perspective, a model appropriate for all organizations is employed.


A survey was administered to 107 practicing managers to determine life cycle stage of their organizations and environmental scanning pursuits.


The study revealed that small firms are not only found in the first two life cycle stages – existence and survival – but also in the decline stage. In addition, support was not found for environmental scanning patterns previously postulated in the literature.

Practical implications

Managers of SMEs who wish to grow their organizations must understand the Gestalt changes necessary for successful progression to a large organization.


One life cycle model is appropriate for all organizations and can be utilized as a transition guide for strategic managers who recognize that their decisions are the real determinants of life cycle stage.



Lester, D.L. and Parnell, J.A. (2008), "Firm size and environmental scanning pursuits across organizational life cycle stages", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 15 No. 3, pp. 540-554.



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