For centuries philosophers have struggled with definitions of “change”, …To the ancient Greeks… tampering with the basic character of things – was, if not actually blasphemy, a sure path to disaster … In modern Western culture, “change” is a more malleable notion, a means to bend fate to one’s ends… (Kanter et al., 1992).
Critical determinants of organizational success and failure
The features of organizations that make for success are not always the same ones that lead to failure. Based on reports generated by professional consultants, it is possible to identify the speciﬁc factors that contribute most to success and failure. It is also possible to classify these factors as primarily environmental, structural, or management-oriented (Vecchio and Appelbaum, 1995). Although a successful organization need not possess all of the positive attributes, most successful organizations show more positive than negative attributes. Successful organizations tend to focus on customers and their needs. They invest in ways to improve sales and provide superior service to clients, and they do not forget that their customers and their customers’ needs underlie their organization’s existence. Successful organizations also adapt their structures to the needs of their missions. At the department level, controls may be simultaneously loose, in that managers have autonomy, and tight, insofar as speciﬁc performance goals may be set. Highly successful organizations often maintain a simple but appropriate structure that employs an adequate number of staff; they avoid empire building and padding with surplus staff. Also, entrepreneurship is encouraged within the divisions of the organization by rewarding successful innovation and encouraging risk taking (Vecchio and Appelbaum, 1995). A major management feature that can lead to success is a deliberate bias toward implementing solutions to problems. Management discourages “paralysis through analysis” of alternatives, and, instead, emphasizes satisﬁcing action that ensures goal attainment. Another management feature in successful ﬁrms is a commitment to the organization’s original arena of expertise. This is called “sticking to one’s knitting”. It involves staying close to what the organization knows how
Management Decision 36/5  289–301 © MCB University Press [ISSN 0025-1747]