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Corporate Communication

Critical Business Asset for Strategic Global Change

Michael Goodman and Peter B. Hirsch

The communication role in organizations has changed, just as the nature of organizations has changed in response to the explosion of new communication technologies as well as global networks within organizations. Communication is more complex, strategic, and vital to the health of the organization than it used to be, and it will become increasingly important in the information-driven economy. This book builds upon the authors’ 2010 book, Corporate Communication: Strategic Adaptation for Global Practice, which focused on the role of the communicator. This volume examines, analyzes, and illustrates the practice of corporate communication as a critical business asset in a time of global change. It looks at the major communication needs in the lifecycle of organizations: M&A (mergers and acquisitions), structural change, culture change, innovation, new leadership, downsizing, global expansion, competition, ethical decision-making, political action, and employee engagement. These are all significant value-creating, and potentially value-destroying, events in which corporate communication, if used correctly, functions as a critical and strategic business asset.
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Chapter Three: The Lifecycle of Organizations and the Role of Corporate Communication


← 32 | 33 → CHAPTER THREE

The Lifecycle of Organizations and the Role of Corporate Communication

This chapter investigates four phases that corporations experience—birth, growth, decline, and, if they are sustainable, a rebirth—starting the cycle all over again. New corporations in the birth stage make the transition to the growth stage, or their “adolescence.” Chinese companies have elements of the growth stage. Companies in the automobile industry, recently in decline, are now undergoing a rebirth. Companies that can trace their history over a century or more are excellent examples of corporations that are sustainable and have maintained their capacity to be “reborn.”

Rapid changes in technology and in global business practices require creative strategic integration of knowledge to “connect the dots,” to see the patterns and cycles that others with more narrow training and experience do not. A corporation experiences stages of development in its lifetime similar to the lifecycle of animals, plants, and humans—birth, growth, maturity, decline, death. The same sequence holds true for a business during the cycles of its life. The stages are predictable, yet every industry experiences these stages differently. Stages last longer for some and move quickly for others, and companies in the same industry may be at different lifecycle stages. In order to be sustainable in this dynamic environment, executives must focus, monitor, change, and adapt constantly.

A typical business law course at a US university would examine three phases in the lifecycle of a...

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