Societal problems and industry reorientation: Elaborating the Dialectic Issue LifeCycle (DILC) model and a case study of car safety in the USA (1900-1995)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Addressing societal problems requires the reorientation of firms-in-industries, including changes in technology, belief systems, and mission. The paper aims to make two contributions to the Dialectic Issue LifeCycle (DILC) model, which captures the dynamics of socio-political mobilization around societal problems and industry responses. First, the five phases in the DILC-model are elaborated with insights from social movement theory, political science, public attention, issue management, corporate political strategy, and innovation management. Second, a ‘cyclical’ lifecycle pattern is explored, in which a social problem does not linearly progress through successive phases, but can also move ‘backwards’ if public attention or political will decrease. We explore these contributions with a longitudinal study of the car-safety problem and responses from American automakers (1900-1995). We use a combined quantitative-qualitative method that employs coupled time-series analyses as support for an in-depth case study. The case study showed that the industry long denied the influence of car design on fatalities, and reluctantly changed its position in the mid-1960s (under pressure from public opinion and policymakers). In the late-1980s, when markets emerged because safety became part of consumer preferences, the industry implemented comprehensive changes in technology, beliefs and mission.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-82
Number of pages15
JournalResearch Policy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Related information


View all