Population Ecology Paradigm in Organizational Environments Video

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  • 0:05 Marketplace Ventures
  • 1:12 Population Ecology
  • 2:11 Organizational Environments
  • 4:34 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Scott Tuning

Scott has been a faculty member in higher education for over 10 years. He holds an MBA in Management, an MA in counseling, and an M.Div. in Academic Biblical Studies.

Population ecology is a model that can help describe certain aspects of organizational behavior. Its most significant contribution is that it has predictive value in determining the chances of organizational survival.

Marketplace Ventures

Walk into any college classroom in America and ask the students to raise their hand if they're familiar with Chances are, no hands go up. Next, ask the same group of millennials how many times they visited the website Again, it's highly likely the response will be flat. As a final question, ask how many times they've received a discount at a retailer because of something they pulled from Most likely, the score is 0 for 3.

A small change to the question has a dramatic impact on response. The question could be asked again, replacing with the name Facebook, AskJeeves with Google, and with Groupon. It is quite likely that the score is now 3 - 0. It might be surprising, but in each example the unknown name came first, and the second and more well-known company produced a product nearly identical to its predecessor. This supports an assertion that multiple factors influence the success or failure of a venture, and these influences come mainly from an organization's environment rather than talent or creativity.

Although AskJeeves was an innovator in the plain English search engine, Google enjoyed a friendlier environment and surpassed its predecessor.

Population Ecology

A significant group of scholars believes there's critical information to be discovered by comparing factors that made one venture successful and the other unsuccessful. One of the models frequently used to describe an organization's life cycle is called population ecology. This model uses terms like birth, growth, transformation, and mortality to describe causes of organizational success or failure.

Some of the earliest researchers associated with population ecology published a study in 1994 examining the causes of failure and success in the automobile industry. Their findings found that only 11 attempts were successful at reaching the production stage, and the remaining 3,845 attempts never got off the ground. Although not all experts are satisfied with the model, the great strength of the population ecology framework is its ability to consider multiple connected factors. The examples at the beginning of this lesson are proof that it's simply not enough to have a great product.

Organizational Environments

The relationship between AskJeeves and Google is an excellent example of what experts call the Red Queen Theory. In ecology, this theory states there is an inverse relationship between favorable and unfavorable conditions in the environment. In other words, it's impossible for the environment of individual A to improve unless the environment of individual B is degraded. In a study done by the University of California San Diego, researchers followed more than 150 companies producing computer hard drives. Their research led them to conclude that the businesses with the best chance of survival were not the ones who developed isolated from their challengers. On the contrary, an organization's ability to survive early competition correlated with success.

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