Population Ecology Theory

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KENYATTA UNIVERSITY

COURSE : MASTER OF BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION

UNIT : STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT SEMINAR

UNIT CODE : BBA 611

LECTURER : DR. KILIKA

TASK : POPULATION ECOLOGY THEORY

GROUP MEMBERS REGISTRATION NUMBER

1. KUTIRI MUCHUMA ANTHONY D53/CTY/PT/20839/2010

2. JAMES KWERI D53/CTY/PT/20805/2010

3. STELLA MARETE D53/CTY/PT/21088/2010

POPULATION ECOLOGY THEORY

1. Background information:

In the late 1700s, Reverend Thomas Malthus published, “An Essay on the principle of population,” where he argued that unchecked population increases exponentially whereas the food supply grows only arithmetically; thus inevitable limitations of vital resources would have demographic implications, leading to a, “Struggle for existence.” In the 18th century also a political economist, Adam Smith, in his book, “The wealth of nations,” identified a regulating mechanism in free markets which he referred to as the “invisible hand,” which suggests that prices self-adjust according to supplies and demand.

Charles Darwin was influenced by both Smith and Malthus, and thus Darwin, continued the conversation on the, “Struggle for existence,” in nature. Darwin determined that as population outgrew resources, “favourable variations would tend to be preserved and infavourable ones to be destroyed.” Darwin thus theorized that the result of this would be the formation of new species, more fit to survive due to this concept of natural selection.

Darwin set out his theory of evolution by natural selection as an explanation for adaptation and speciation. He defined natural selection as, “the principle by which each slight variation (of a trait), if useful, is preserved.” The concept was simple but powerful; individuals best adapted to their environments are more likely to survive and reproduce.

Fast forward over a hundred years, and we can see that other theorists have developed ideas that human societies and culture evolve by mechanisms that are analogous to those that apply to evolution of species. In Michael T. Hannan and John H. Freeman’s 1977, American Journal of Sociology, their article “The population Ecology of organizations,” and later refined in their 1989 book, “Organizational Ecology,” they concluded that organizations ecology examines the environment in which organizations compete and a process like natural selection occurs.

Population ecology theory incorporated the individual population and community as units of analysis to look at the death of organizations (firm mortality) and the birth of new organizations (organizational founding), as well as organizational growth and change. In effect, Hannan and Freeman theorize about “complete life-cycle” for an organization.

2. The formal conceptual definition of organizational population ecology theory: ✓ Population Ecology theory is a theoretical and empirical approach that uses insight from biology, economics and sociology and employs statistical analysis to try and understand the conditions under which organizations emerge, grow and die. ✓ It is the analysis of an organization using human life cycle terms and principles. ✓ It is the idea that environment affects organization structure, failure and success. ✓ This concept is borrowed from the life sciences. It is a Darwinist – type approach that focuses on how organizations adapt and evolve in order to survive within the general population of organizations to which they belong. (Bernard Barnes, 2009)

3. Population Ecology : Assumptions and Theoretical Streams ✓ Population ecology challenges the view that individual organizations effectively and without consequence adapt to changes in the environment (Hanna and Freeman,...
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