The Rhythm of Strategic Change: Towards a Comprehensive Research Model

  • Patricia Klarner


The literature review in Chapter II gave an overview of the fundamental theories that help researchers to better understand the phenomenon of repeated change in organizations. It showed that several theories deal with the concept of change patterns. Prior studies on change patterns used existing theories in the fields of evolutionary theory, adaptation theories and organizational learning in combination to explain repeated change patterns. While such studies provided valuable insight into how organizations change over time, they are limited to a general level of analytical depth. Punctuated equilibrium theorists propose that organizations go through longer periods of change followed by short interruptions, but the variety with which organizations can change in such a punctuated pattern has not been explored. The author assumes that it is difficult to predict performance outcomes of different change patterns without analyzing the components of the change path. This relates to organizational learning theory and organizational change theory that highlight the risks of ‘too much’ or ‘too few’ change. Therefore, the length of periods of change and stability has to be studied as the key components of a rhythm of change. An example of the need to study the components of a change rhythm can be provided by the punctuated equilibrium model of change. From this perspective, very long periods of stability cause inertia. To break the grips of inertia, the periods of stability are punctuated by periods of revolutionary change. While the punctuated equilibrium model bears the disadvantage of increasing inertia, other change patterns risk the disadvantages of too much change and overload. Neither of these change patterns captures the variety with which organizations change over time. The combination of change periods and stability periods can vary across organizations and over time. Whether their performance will be good or bad, depends on how well organizations balance the two contrasting forces.


Organizational Learning Organizational Performance Strategic Change Change Rhythm Repeated Change 
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© Gabler Verlag | Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden GmbH 2010

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  • Patricia Klarner

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