Hi Ginny Belden,
The four stage model you refer to was first proposed in ecology by C.S.
Holling in "The resilience of terrestial ecosystems: Local surprise and
global change" in Sustainable Development of the Biosphere, edited by W.C.
Clark and R.E. Munn, 1986, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England.
Together with a colleague I applied it to human organizations in D.K.
Hurst and B.J. Zimmerman, ""From life cycle to ecocycle: A new perspective
on the growth, maturity, destruction and renewal of complex systems",
Journal of Management Inquiry 3, no.4 (December):339-354.
In my recently published book "Crisis & Renewal: Meeting the Challenge of
Organizational Change" Harvard Business School Press, 1995 I take the
model one step further to allow for the fact that humans (unlike trees)
have the capacity to be rational actors. The resulting 8 stage model
integrates three perspectives on management action, which have usually
been thought of as mutually exclusive:
1. Emergent Action: managers are free to act but ignorant -- their
problems are unanalysable: the classical entrepreneurial situation.(Forest
equivalent: the open patch)
2. Rational Action: managers understand cause-and-effect relationships and
are free to act on that knowledge: the business schools' favourite
assumption.(No forest equivalent)
Constrained Action: managers know what to do, but are constrained by the
system and unable to act: the population ecologists' point of view.(Forest
equivalent: the mature forest)
The resulting model is an "infinity loop", which adds a cycle of renewal
to the familiar life cycle. It also bears a striking systemic resemblance
to the Taoist Tai Chi symbol.
-- David Hurst (firstname.lastname@example.org) Speaker, Consultant and Writer on Management