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Article

Donald L. Lester, John A. Parnell and Shawn Carraher

Adapting a concept from the biological sciences, organizational researchers have proposed a life cycle of organizational development from birth to death. Several distinct…

Abstract

Adapting a concept from the biological sciences, organizational researchers have proposed a life cycle of organizational development from birth to death. Several distinct models have been postulated, ranging from three to ten stages. This paper proposes a five‐stage model and tests it empirically to assess the specific stage of the life cycle of any organization. Results of a twenty‐item scale that captures managers' perceptions of their firms' position in the life cycle are discussed. Knowledge of an organization's present position or stage of development can aid top managers in understanding the relationships between organizational life cycle, competitive strategy, and performance.

Details

The International Journal of Organizational Analysis, vol. 11 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1055-3185

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Article

Donald L. Lester, John A. Parnell, William “Rick” Crandall and Michael L. Menefee

This exploratory study seeks to bridge a gap in the literature by exploring the life cycle‐strategy relationship to discover the preferred strategy for high and low…

Abstract

Purpose

This exploratory study seeks to bridge a gap in the literature by exploring the life cycle‐strategy relationship to discover the preferred strategy for high and low performing firms in four of the five stages of the organizational life cycle.

Design/methodology/approach

In total, 600 managers randomly chosen from chamber of commerce membership lists in the southern USA were mailed an extensive scale that included items to measure life cycle stage, generic strategy, industry attractiveness and stability, size, and satisfaction with performance. The instrument included 20 life‐cycle items, four items for each of the five stages.

Findings

Partial support was found for the expected relationship between strategy and performance as firms move through the organizational life cycle. New, high‐performing organizations that were satisfied with their performance preferred first mover strategies, while renewing organizations categorized as high performers also emphasized the first mover strategic approach. Mature high performers preferred a uniqueness strategy over one based on efficiency.

Research limitations/implications

The fifth proposition, concerning declining firms, could not be adequately tested. Other limitations of this study include the limited sample size, the limited size variance of participating firms, and the cross‐industry nature of the sample. Combining the research stream of organizational life cycle with generic strategies and satisfaction with performance complicated the project.

Practical implications

Life cycle and performance research provides managers with a snapshot of high and low performing firms and an understanding of how their situation, decision‐making style, strategy and structure fit. High performers focus on proactive, first mover strategies.

Originality/value

The organizational life cycle is operationalized, demonstrating characteristics for high and low performing firms in each stage except decline.

Details

International Journal of Commerce and Management, vol. 18 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1056-9219

Keywords

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Article

Donald L. Lester and John A. Parnell

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…

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Design/methodology/approach

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

Findings

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.

Originality/value

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.

Details

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, vol. 15 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1462-6004

Keywords

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Case study

Donald L. Lester

This case demonstrates the difficulties encountered by small family businesses when the founder passes away without having properly prepared for succession. AAA…

Abstract

This case demonstrates the difficulties encountered by small family businesses when the founder passes away without having properly prepared for succession. AAA Construction was a company held together for over thirty-six years by a family patriarch, Jack Hudson. His choice of his grandson to succeed him was obvious. However, there were serious questions about whether David Robbins up to the task.

Details

The CASE Journal, vol. 1 no. 2
Type: Case Study
ISSN: 1544-9106

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Case study

John A. Parnell, John E. Spillan, Marlon R. McPhattar and Donald L. Lester

The decade from 2000 until 2010 was a turbulent time for Toyota Motor Company. The carmaker came under significant criticism from the United States government, consumers…

Abstract

The decade from 2000 until 2010 was a turbulent time for Toyota Motor Company. The carmaker came under significant criticism from the United States government, consumers throughout the world, and media critics amid allegations of poor quality control and vehicle safety concerns. Problems with accelerators and brake systems were found on several of its most popular models, a situation initially exacerbated by the slow and somewhat tentative response from top management. Toyota was accused of not addressing early warning signs that appeared several years before the crisis received intense negative publicity. Toyota struggled to retain the confidence of consumers and governmental regulators, eventually recalling approximately eight million automobiles.

Details

The CASE Journal, vol. 7 no. 2
Type: Case Study
ISSN: 1544-9106

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Article

Donald L. Lester, John A. Parnell and Shawn Carraher

This paper aims to present the results of an empirical study identifying desktop managers who spend all of their time engaged with the computer and the effects this has on…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to present the results of an empirical study identifying desktop managers who spend all of their time engaged with the computer and the effects this has on organizations.

Design/methodology/approach

A survey was administered to 30 organizations in a southwestern US state to determine the presence of desktop managers.

Findings

The paper finds that desktop managers in an organization negatively impacted job satisfaction, organizational commitment, organizational citizenship, and the zest and vitality of subordinates.

Research limitations/implications

Only employees from 30 organizations were surveyed, and all were located in a specific geographic area of the USA.

Practical implications

The negative impact of desktop managers on organizational members points to a disturbing trend, that knowledge workers are not having their interactive communication needs with managers met.

Originality/value

The original scale developed for the study shows promise in identifying the presence of desktop managers in organizations.

Details

Journal of Management Development, vol. 29 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0262-1711

Keywords

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Article

John A. Parnell, Donald L. Lester, Zhang Long and Mehmet Ali Köseoglu

This study aimed to examine the prospective role played by perceived environmental uncertainty in the strategy‐performance linkage among SMEs in China, Turkey, and the USA.

Abstract

Purpose

This study aimed to examine the prospective role played by perceived environmental uncertainty in the strategy‐performance linkage among SMEs in China, Turkey, and the USA.

Design/methodology/approach

The strategic group level of analysis was employed. Generic strategy, environmental uncertainty, and performance were measured by previously validated scales.

Findings

The combination strategy‐performance linkage was supported in Turkey and the USA. In China, the highest performing strategic group emphasized a focus orientation accompanied by neither cost leadership nor differentiation, and the lowest performing group was comprised of low cost businesses.

Research limitations/implications

This study supported the combination strategy thesis in the USA and Turkey. In China, conceptualizations of strategy appear to be more complex. High performing businesses emphasized a focus strategy, but not necessarily in concert with either cost leadership or differentiation.

Practical implications

Firms in the USA place a great deal of emphasis on uniqueness and individuality, translating into approaches based on differentiation and innovation. However, attempting to control costs and differentiate without a defined niche leaves a firm vulnerable to larger, more experienced competition.

Originality/value

This study addresses the death of strategy‐performance investigations in developing nations. Findings presented run counter to the notion that successful businesses in emerging economies emphasize cost leadership vis‐à‐vis differentiation. Conventional wisdom suggests that high performers tend to perceive greater certainty about their environments. The present analysis not only rejected this finding, but suggests that the opposite might be true.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 50 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

Keywords

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Article

Donald L. Lester and John A. Parnell

Organizations struggling to compete can do nothing while revenues and profits decline, putting their very survival at risk. Or they can recreate themselves by altering…

Abstract

Organizations struggling to compete can do nothing while revenues and profits decline, putting their very survival at risk. Or they can recreate themselves by altering their situation, strategy, structure, or decision‐making style. The second choice, organizational renewal, is the focus of this study of five diverse businesses that renewed themselves through the proactive alteration of one or more of these four factors. Four research questions were explored using extensive qualitative methodology. Results highlight the need for alignment among situation, strategy, structure, and decision‐making style, as well as the importance of timing in the process.

Details

Leadership & Organization Development Journal, vol. 23 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-7739

Keywords

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Article

John A. Parnell, Donald L. Lester and Michael L. Menefee

Much of the literature suggests that strategies are formulated in light of perceived environmental conditions and internal capabilities. This study supports the notion…

Abstract

Much of the literature suggests that strategies are formulated in light of perceived environmental conditions and internal capabilities. This study supports the notion that strategy is formulated in part as a response to management uncertainties about competitors, customers, and the environment. Responses from 137 wholesale grocers demonstrate that uncertainty varies by generic strategy, suggesting that businesses consider both the type and degree of uncertainty when crafting a competitive strategy. Specifically, the data suggest that viable strategic options may be limited more by the cognitive and perceptual abilities of an organization’s managers than by objective measures of factors such as organizational resources and industry competitiveness. The premise that strategy must “fit” with organizational or environmental factors to be effective may be incomplete. Rather, a strategy – to be successful – should also fit with the psychological characteristics and constraints of the managers responsible for its formulation and implementation.

Details

Management Decision, vol. 38 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0025-1747

Keywords

Content available
Article

Abstract

Details

Journal of Management Development, vol. 26 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0262-1711

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