This essay was prompted by a concern that business success or failure was becoming increasingly externally induced and at the worst, often beyond the control of management. A literature search for the answers to a set of questions concerning the environments of organisation confirmed that others shared this concern and that a better understanding of the interrelations was important for continuing success.
Management was defined as "deliberate acts aimed at maintaining a 'system's viability". Environments are described in various ways. These include the proximal or task environment which can be distinguished from the distal environment which is the sources of future influences. Turbulence and complexity are also characteristics of the distal environments of most organisations and therefore management techniques that are familiar within a firm in a stable or competitive environment are often inappropriate for long term survival. For example, a particular organisation structure was observed as ideal for innovation but a disadvantage for implementation.
However, another study observed several firms in a similar environment each surviving with different strategies. These and other complexities faced by managers are discussed the importance of perception and accurate environmental modelling noted. There are ways to reduce uncertainty. It is suggested that the starting points and evidence of future change can be found in the past and present and that appropriate scanning procedures and techniques exist to identify them. There are instances where survival is beyond management. However, the professional manager (defined) should only be concerned with two such types of failures that are beyond his influence, viz. natural disasters and the firm which has outlived its usefulness and should not survive. It could be good management to allow such a firm to die despite the definition adopted for this essay.
The essay concludes with a list of answers to the questions initially proposed. These should provide a guide for the manager to improve the chances of his firm's continued survival.