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Identifying Search Space

<p>This dissertation studies how organizations, when solving a specific problem, identify a set of potential solutions which we call "Search Space." By drawing from evolutionary theory and related literatures on strategic change, scholars have demonstrated differences in search mechanisms that explain how organizations choose solutions. However, we still face unanswered questions in understanding how organizations decide where to search, including how organizations identify a set of potential solutions or Search Space. This dissertation defines the concept of Search Space and identifies three factors - uncertainty, prior top managerial attention, and prior experience -that drive differences in Search Space. Additionally, this dissertation starts to disentangle why some firms' top managers are predisposed to paying more attention to new strategic areas by investigating the relationship between uncertainty and top managerial attention. Hypotheses first testing the effect of uncertainty, prior top managerial attention, and prior experience on size of Search Space, and second testing the effect of uncertainty on changes in top managerial attention are tested using data describing the U.S. renewable electricity sector from 2000 to 2010. We conduct both a cross-sectional analysis using data collected though a multiple respondent survey and a panel data analysis by tracking firms' memberships in renewable electricity trade groups. We find that uncertainty and prior top managerial attention increase size of Search Space, but related prior experience reduces size of Search Space. Additionally, uncertainty positively changes attention of top managers at headquarter units, but not at subsidiary units, towards renewable electricity. These results contribute to our understanding of how organizations start solving problems by deciding where to search; how the boundaries of top managerial attention direct Search Space; and how different types of top managers interpret uncertainty. Empirically, these results have important implications for how renewable policies should be structured and how firms develop new projects in the U.S. renewable electricity sector.</p> / Dissertation
Date January 2013
CreatorsDutt, Nilanjana
ContributorsMitchell, William G, Joseph, John E
Source SetsDuke University
Detected LanguageEnglish

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