Implementing strategic decisions : the implementation of capital investment projects in the U.K. manufacturing industry
This thesis reports an exploratory, quantitative study into the implementation of strategic decisions. Implementation was viewed as a discontinuous organisational activity involving strategic change. The organisational vehicle of change is seen as "the project" and the specific unit of analysis adopted is the capital investment project. Manufacturing organisations were studied because these were shown to most frequently undertake such projects. Adopting a theoretical perspective derived from systems theory and cybernetics a model of implementation was developed which recognises two dimensions of implementation success (modes of organisational change) to be contingent upon a dimension of project uncertainty and two dimensions of information. From this model ten hypotheses were developed. Data on 45 projects was collected from a diversity of manufacturing companies. This was obtained using a structured questionnaire instrument administered to a single informant during a retrospective personal interview. Initially the data was analysed using principal components factor analysis to determine the factorial compositions and reliabilities of scales measuring theoretical constructs. Subsequently, causal modelling and stepwise regression techniques were employed to test the hypotheses. Analysis demonstrated that the essentially structural approach to implementation taken in the study adequately explained many of the observed associations between constructs. Hypothesised associations between organisational structure and implementation success could not, generally, be supported. Finally, the theoretical model adopted was not able to account for a number of empirically observed associations. These associations were explicable in terms of a behavioural or social dimension. The wider implications of the study are also discussed.