What we call a "fashionable business technique" is a belief that this business technique is new and at the leading edge of improvements in business techniques. Theories of the market for such fashionable business techniques highlight the functioning of the market's supply side, populated by fashion-market suppliers, such as consulting firms. They also highlight the functioning of the market's demand side, populated by fashion-market consumers, such as for-profit and nonprofit organizations. Researchers have found that supply-side organizations provide a succession of fashionable business techniques that demand-side organizations consume in repeated, wave-like patterns. They have proposed that these recurrent fashion waves show up as a coevolutionary process that causes both the supply and consumption of fashionable techniques to increase during waves' upswings and to decrease during their downswings, triggering the next fashion wave. This coevolutionary hypothesis remains largely untested. Most researchers have studied either supply-side organizations' dissemination of fashionable business techniques or — independently — demand-side organizations' consumption of these techniques. Only a few studies have examined production and consumption interdependently. When they have, some have found evidence of a coevolutionary process whereas others have not. This study advances possible explanations for these divergent findings, derives hypotheses, and tests them.
Academy of Management Review. Forthcoming.