Organizational decline and innovation: Turnarounds and downward spirals

William McKinley, Scott Latham, Michael Braun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

180 Scopus citations


We consider four scenarios that can unfold when organizations either innovate or respond rigidly to organizational decline. Two of the scenarios are downward spirals that threaten an organization with possible death, and two of the scenarios are turnarounds. These scenarios are important because they can determine the fate of an organization-survival or death. We explore the conditions under which each of these scenarios is likely to emerge, developing original theory and specifying propositions about those conditions. In developing this theoretical framework, we distinguish between flexible and inflexible innovations as factors in turnaround success or failure. Our model extends current theory on organizational decline to highlight the feedback effects of the consequences of decline and to explain the circumstances in which particular feedback effects are likely to occur.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-110
Number of pages23
JournalAcademy of Management Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014


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