Fit, Failure, and the Hall of Fame

by Raymond Miles, Charles Snow



There is currently a convergence of attention and concern among managers and management scholars across basic issues of organizational success and failure. Whether attention is focused on the very survival of organizations in aging industries, the pursuit of excellence in mature industries, or the preparation of organizations for the rapidly approaching challenges of the 21st century, the concern is real and highly motivated. The U. S. managers and organizations have been indicted for low productivity, and management scholars have recognized the fragmentation of their literature and called for a new synthesis. The United States is in a period of economic challenge and organizational upheaval. There are myriad prescriptions for industrial and organizational renewal, and many of the factors linked to organizational success are being rediscovered today after a thirty-year hiatus. Sociologists own analysis, however, indicates that these characteristics, while important, are merely manifestations of a more fundamental, dynamic process called fit-the search for an organization form that is both internally and externally consistent. Sociologists have argued that minimal fit is necessary for survival, tight fit is associated with corporate excellence, and early fit provides a competitive advantage that can lead to the organization Hall of Fame. Tomorrow's Hall of Fame companies are working on new organization forms today.

California Management Review

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