Phase IV: The stage of Decline: keeping up appearances

Phase four organizations try to hang on to the glories of the past. The fact that their windfalls are fewer than their setbacks is attributed to external circumstances and lack of understanding in the outside world. They point out how vast their experience is in their field of expertise, cling to their old certainties and demand protective measures (government funding). The organizational climate can be characterized as ‘defensive’.

Competition is seen as unfair. The present negative situation is defined as temporary, and profusely explained many times over. There may be quite a bit of dissension at the top. People tend to hang on to privileges and acquired rights “I had to wait a long time for that…”

Decision-making is slow, new ideas are seldom implemented. Innovation is mainly cosmetic, one is, as Moss Kanter says ‘just putting lipstick on a bulldog’ (2001).

The focus is on organizational respectability and decency on the one hand, on the other hand the atmosphere is rife with suspicion; for instance, the director failed to greet someone: “What does it mean?”


Phase I: The pioneering stage: high energy, wild growth

Phase II: The stage of Growth: think first, act flexibly

Phase III: The stage of Consolidation: solid survival and success