Change is the only constant! People hear this often in management sessions and executive briefings. Change is continuous or cyclical?
Social change is believed to have a pattern to it, which some believe is one-directional (continuous progress), while others believe social change is a cycle (cyclical change). These are the easiest patterns of social change to be explored, as the third basic idea, “decline or degeneration,” can often have biased interpretations that are not scientifically-backed.
Cyclic change, says that everything happens in a cycle. For instance, how we calculate time and have the cycle of the seasons, or in business, in which it is believed the economy goes through cycles of economic boom and recession. This can be broken up into two ideas:
- Saturation happens when the cycle is “saturated” with too many changes. E.g. when the market is saturated with too many goods, which pushes rates lower.
- Exhaustion happens from too much saturation which is when there’s a down-curve. However, over time, the market will need to be built up again, continuing that cycle.
One-Directional Change says that change happens in one direction and implies a growth or increase of some kind, such as population growth or the growth of a company. As we learn new ideas, those ideas replace former ideas and practices with better ones. These mechanisms can be broken down into three parts:
- Accumulation is collection of ideas, practices, and thoughts.
- Selection of the best, most effective ideas, based on knowledge through trial-and-error.
- Differentiation happens over time when humans would have to specialize and differentiate, or rather “innovate” to deal with new problems as they arise.
Many experts believe in a combined pattern of change, in which one-directional and cyclic changes can happen at the same time.
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