Implications for Strategic Change
Each theory has important implications for strategic change in organizations. For instance, the notion of teleology has been central to the field of strategy as it offers a way of building theories that celebrate human agency (Child, 1972). In such theories, strategic choice is a key motor driving change with humans possessing an ability to plan and the power to shape economic, social and technological systems. Human agency becomes progressively circumscribed as we begin introducing other change motors. For instance, strategic initiatives may need to be conditioned by life cycle dynamics. Or, change processes could be circumscribed and shaped by a multitude of conflicting social forces that deny planners an ability to unambiguously navigate a stream of unfolding events. Or, change can unfold within an even larger evolutionary process of variation, selection and retention.
Strategic change processes are fundamentally different within each of these theories. Change driven by teleology is planned and deliberate, based on an assessment of the possibilities involved. Change driven by life cycle dynamics represent transitions from one stage to another as an organization progresses along a prescribed sequence and adapts to forces. With dialectical theories, change as adaptation gives way to political processes of partisan conflicts and mutual adjustments among opposing parties. Finally, evolutionary theory examines processes of variation, selection, and retention of alternative organizational forms as generated by competition for scarce resources among competition for processes, adaptation and adoption occur as organizations cycle between periods of exploration and exploitation within an overall punctuated equilibrium process.
We delve deeper into these motors in the rest of this section .
Our objective is to provide readers with a way of thinking about strategic change based on the kinds of motors that one might encounter in different settings. In doing so, we also offer readers with an illustrative survey of the literature on strategic change.