Chapter 2. The Corporate Life Cycle: Why Can’t Businesses Grow Forever?


“Businesses get big, grow old, and die, and there is nothing as a CEO that I can do to change it.”

 --Fortune 500 CEO speaking to Harvard Business School Class, April 2000

Is Corporate Death Inevitable?

Big businesses grow, mature, and decline, but is there anything that management can do to help change this trend? Generally speaking, it is difficult to keep companies vibrant. Despite significant economic advantages that large, public companies appear to have over other organizational entities, the eventual decline in operations appears inevitable. Moreover, so long as incentive systems remain in place as they currently exist, there is no compelling reason why this pattern ...

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