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Dr. Steve HermanDr Steve Herman gave an excellent talk this week at the University of Hertfordshire. Ground-breaking work on Organisational Adaptability, Stability, Innovation and Survival.

Key stats:

  • 99.3% of firms in the UK have fewer than 50 employees
  • 0.6% of firms in the UK have 51-249 employees
  • Only 0.1% of firms in the UK have 250+ employees

Dr Herman studied the adaptability of the 99.9% – the small and medium sized enterprises of <250 employees. His sample covered 909 SMEs’ adaptability in the face of change – particularly what was the influence of the strategies, structures and procedures within the firm.

The study extended over a 2 year period, allowing him to rate companies’ ‘adaptability’, then to observe survival 18 months later.

  • Older firms tended to be rated as more adaptable than younger firms
  • Higher adaptability was associated with higher internal congruence – or alignment – of routines
  • Higher adaptability was associated with the ability to implement innovations


  • No relationship was found between being ‘highly adaptable’ and having higher revenues, profits or employees
  • No relationship was found between how formal procedures were within the firm and whether they were ‘highly adaptable’


  • In the depths of a tough recession, the Darwinian forces of selection operated strongly – along with the Lamarckian ability to adapt.

Dr Herman offers companies the opportunity to benchmark their corporate adaptability by answering the question set about themselves online.    To read more, visit: