Van de Ven and Poole (1995) group the main theories of change to four groups:
- Life cycle
The most interesting of these is #4, evolution. Viewed correctly, it actually encompasses all the others.
Other ways of describing how change unfolds:
- punctuated equilibrium
- social movement
However, change may be all of these things at the same time. It’s a fact that a dynamic system can produce both equilibrium and punctuations to the equilibrium; and we actually can’t know (in most cases) whether a system that’s outwardly stable will stay stable or wander off from the equilibrium point.
In other words: change, even radical change, may not require any changes in the system itself; only in its behavior. Complex systems are quite capable of producing complex behavior endogenously.