The second perspective to emerge in the late seventies is labeled population ecology. Borrowing principles from biology concerning the process of natural selection, theorists in this area have attempted to explain why some organizations survive and others fail based on conditions in the environment. In the population ecology framework, luck, chance, and randomness play an important role in explaining the survival or failure of an organization. This is the similar to the way biologists have accounted for the survival or failure of animal and plant species throughout time. New organizations are continually being formed by entrepreneurs with a new idea for a product or service.
Theorists of the population ecology perspective argue that survival or success is more dependent on luck or chance than on the quality of the idea. Many new products and services are offered in the marketplace, but it may take a chance discovery by another person or organization to see their usefulness. The implication of this perspective is that managerial abilities and talents in the initial stages of organizational development have very little to do with organizational success. Rather, success is more dependent on the environment and the various changes that are going on in the environment. As such, the perspective offers important insight into the relationships of organizations to a changing environment and how organizations either adapt to that change or experience failure. Hence, population ecologists would be in agreement with the old adage that success can be largely attributed to "being in the right place at the right time."