Big & bad? A sociological perspective on the Icarus Paradox

Barnett, Michael L. (2006) Big & bad? A sociological perspective on the Icarus Paradox. In: International Association for Business & Society Conference, March 2006, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico.

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One of the more interesting counter-intuitive findings in organizational research is that success breeds failure. This counter-intuitive has been described in terms of core rigidities, core incompetencies, and even the Icarus Paradox. The literature on these topics has concluded that success yields overconfidence and myopia in firms and their managers, and this eventually causes failure. We augment this literature by suggesting that success breeds not only internal pathologies that cause firms to misuse their established resources over time, but also external pathologies that cause firms to lose access to new resources. In particular, success influences stakeholders’ perceptions of firms, causing firms to lose the benefits of underdog status and gain the problems of overlord status. We term this notion that success warps images of the successful, leading to their decline over time, the Helios Paradox, and suggest that dominant firms must counter natural tendencies to succumb to both the Icarus and Helios Paradoxes if they are to remain successful over time.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Keywords: Reputation; Icarus Paradox; Helios Paradox; organizational change
Subject(s): Strategy; Entrepreneurship & Global business
Centre: Faculty of Strategy, Entrepreneurship and International Business
Date Deposited: 12 Mar 2012 20:19
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2015 14:06

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