Strategy formation in Irish complex organisations
This is a comparative study of strategy formation in Irish complex organisations. Four organisations were chosen for study which are representative of the four main types of organisation to be found in the Irish economy,a state agency,a public limited company,a state-owned entreprise and a producer cooperative. The approach taken in this research is multi-level and contextual,an approach which is still very rare in organisational studies. Insight is sought through intensive, longitudinal study of the four organisations over their whole life histories. The central thrust of the inquiry is the empirical examination of how situational context and autonomous organisational behaviour influence organisational strategy and of how these two elements interact. The context - strategy formation link,in particular, is under-explored in the strategy literature. The small national context facilitates the development of a multi-level perspective on the interaction of situational context and organisational action that includes the national,industry and organisational levels of analysis. It also throws the context-organisation interrelationship into greater relief than would be possible through using a similar research design in a much larger national context. The empirical analysis identifies SITUATIONAL CONTEXT,ORGANISATIONAL LEADERS and ORGANISATIONAL HISTORY as the three main elements in strategy formation. It isolates and empirically analyses FIVE important CONTEXTUAL FACTORS that shape strategy,and provides a greater elaboration of the contextual influences on organisational action than that to be found in much of the organisational literature, where the environment of organisations tends to be viewed as homogeneous and residual. It also reveals that the contextual influences on organisational action often arise from INTER-LINKING PROCESSES OF SOCIAL VOLITION across multiple levels of social and economic structure and it examines the nature of these processes. In this way the study goes beyond the predominant conception of contextual influences as 'impersonal forces', a perspective on situational context that also predominates in the organisational literature. The study also provides a FRESH PERSPECTIVE ON the role of LEADERSHIP in strategy formation. It deflects attention away from the predominant pre-occupation in the leadership literature with the personality and personal attributes of the leader. Leadership effectiveness is also seen to be related to the ongoing processual dynamics of leading(i.e. to ongoing performance and the maintenance of credibility over time) and to the nature of the historical challenge presented to individual leaders by situational context and organisational history. A classification of leaders in terms of their historical roles is developed and offered as a useful way of organising future research into the leadership phenomenon. The study then develops,from the data and the analysis,a model of organisational development,based on the concept of ORGANISATIONAL CAREER,which is more existential and less deterministic than that based on the life cycle analogy. These insights are finally synthesised into A RELATIONAL MODEL OF STRATEGY FORMATION and the study ends with an assessment of the utility of this model,and of the related findings, for future research and practice.