Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology

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Volume 61 Issue 1 (March 1988), Pages 1-112

Long wave cycles of sociotechnical change and innovation: A macropsychological perspective (pages 7-23)

Sociotechnical and other interventions in organization design and management have not always survived over time or lived up to expectations. The success rate of these interventions may be decreasing in spite of the spread of the associated paradigms. Lack of success may be due more to evolutionary changes in the economic or socio‐technical macrosystem than to local organizational factors. The concept of long waves or Kondratieff cycles can help explain changes in both societal and organizational behaviour and performance. Several long wave theories are briefly reviewed and contrasted. Particular attention is paid to cycles of psychological, social and technological change and innovation. The mutually causal nature of the evolving macro‐system is stressed, but particular attention is paid to macropsychological factors as a basic driving force of the long waves. A rough synthesis of factors contributing to the four phases of the long wave is made. Characteristics of the present downturn are briefly reviewed. Emphasis is placed on the possible mismanagement of advanced information technology. Several interpretations and recommendations are made with regard to the fit between organizational interventions and the state of the organization during the present recession/depression.

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