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Implementing strategic decisions : an analysis of decision content, organisational context and managerial strategy

The management of strategic change has come to be viewed as a complex and difficult area of organisational analysis, both from a theoretical academic and practical management point of view. However, much of the literature on the subject is typically characterised by high levels of normativism and a general lack of analytical depth or sophistication. Empirical studies attempting to capture the complex, dynamic and contextually-embedded character of strategic decision implementation are rare. Those that exist are typically long on description and short on analytical insight. Comparative studies in this field, guided by coherent conceptual frameworks, remain largely unexplored. In recognising these problems, the research presented in this thesis sets out to examine and compare strategies and processes of decision implementation across a diverse range of organisational contexts. The theoretical framework adopted for the study is predicated on the idea that the nature and form of processes of implementation is critically influenced by the interrelationship between three central determining factors - the managerial strategies employed to effect change, the nature or content of the decision issue being implemented, and the wider institutional setting within which the process occurs. The essence of this interrelationship is captured in the concept of implementation system congruence, which identifies the extent to which strategies of implementation adequately address the requirement for staff and employees not only to understand the decision issue, but also to demonstrate sufficient levels of commitment to ensure it is translated into action. The programme of research is conducted using a qualitative case study method within eight British organisations, examining the process of implementation relevant to one decision in each case. All eight decisions are strategic in nature in that they are perceived to be important or consequential by the organisations concerned. Two of the organisations are in the motor component manufacturing industry; the others are a financial institution, a charity, a power station, a printing company, a telemarketing agency and a grammar school. Each detailed study is analysed in a comparative manner alongside the other seven in an effort to derive valid analytical generalisations on the process of strategic decision implementation. The concept of implementation system congruence is found to be extremely useful in understanding relationships between the strategies, content and context of change, and their association with ultimate process outcomes. The research also underscores the nonlinear and dynamic nature of change and the critical need for change managers to assimilate and respond to unforeseen contingencies as processes of implementation unfold over time. In this respect, the notion that the implementation of consequential business decisions seems to require strong commitment, patience, perseverance and repetition fits well with the empirical fmdings of this study. Finally, the broader context in and around the organisation is also revealed to have an important influence in creating a social backdrop against which implementation activities and decision issues are shaped, interpreted and evaluated by others. Levels of trust between sponsors and recipients are singled out as an especially prominent element of an organisation's social context influencing the former's capacity to effect change. 22 No portion of the work referred to in the thesis has been submitted in support of an application for another degree or qualification of this or any other university or other institute of learning. 1. Copyright in text of this thesis rests with the Author. Copies (by any process) either in full, or of extracts, may be made only in accordance with instructions given by the Author and lodged in the John Rylands University Library of Manchester. Details may be obtained from the Librarian. This page must form part of any such copies made. Further copies (by any process) of copies made in accordance with such instructions may not be made without the permission (in writing) of the Author. 2. The ownership of any intellectual property rights which may be described in this thesis is vested in the University of Manchester, subject to any prior agreement to the contrary, and may not be made available for use by third parties without the written permission of the University, which will prescribe the terms and conditions of any such agreement. Further information on the conditions under which disclosures and exploitation may take place is available from the Head of the Faculty of Business Administration, Manchester Business School.
Date January 1997
CreatorsRichards, Jonathan David
PublisherUniversity of Manchester
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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