Given how frequently (and often painfully, toward the end) companies seem to founder in the face of structural changes that they can't do much about (short of essentially re-founding as something else, just carrying over the campus and the capital), I have to wonder if there has been any work done outside of the barbaric corporate raider sector on building companies with clean exit strategies...
After all, there isn't any reason why a company needs to struggle to perpetuate its existence forever (any more than a company would struggle to perpetuate the existence of a given product line forever). Sure, the process that companies who do fight and then die go through is pretty grim; but that is, at least in part, because they keep struggling even after the situation is hopeless, and just bleed and bleed and bleed.
Is there a process where you just quit before you are behind, wind down neatly, rather than the corporate equivalent of spending a few years stuck full of tubes and unresponsive in the ICU?
It is possible for a company to cease operations without lots of pain. All it requires is a management willing to face facts. Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, used to tell the story of a corner barbershop that knew its finances very well. When their landlord increased the lease on their parking lot, they immediately closed: they knew that with the increased cost they could not survive.
Some years ago, I owned and operated a store which sold and serviced the Commodore Amiga. When Commodore folded, I had two choices: convert to an IBM PC store, or close. There were already several IBM PC stores in town, better established than I would have been, so I decided to close.
I decided that December 31 would be my last day. I told my technician to go home, but I would continue his health benefits through the end of the year. I paid my rent and hired kids off the street to help me clean out the store. Most of the stuff in the store was trashed, but I took a few items home. I kept the store name for my personal consulting business.
No pain, no tears, just the orderly end of a retail business that had lost its manufacturer.