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Strategic Decision Making Processes: Cases from an English University Free essay! Download now

Home > University > Business studies > Strategic Decision Making Processes: Cases from an English University

Strategic Decision Making Processes: Cases from an English University

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How management decisions are made and how can theories help support these ideas..

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Strategic Decision Making Processes: Extending Theory to an English University

Strategic Decision Making Processes: Cases from an English University

Abstract

A wide variety of factors influence the quality of strategic decisions. This research
considers one such influence, the Strategic Decision Making process. It explores
whether previous theoretical propositions hold in quite different organisations in a
very different business environment, namely a University in England.

The research examines how a strategic problem was addressed. Interviews with the
Top Management Team, supported by documentary evidence, are content analysed
for the relevance of the propositions in this new environment.

Two cases of decision making, relating to the same problem, in a single university
suggest that the propositions are indeed relevant.

Key Words: Strategic Decision Making; Universities; Case Study



1. Introduction
Researchers have identified a large number of factors influencing the quality of
strategic decisions. Environment, organisational structures and culture, team and
individual characteristics, and the characteristics of strategic problems themselves
have all been identified as influences on quality. There is a growing recognition
among researchers that process – the way in which decision making is approached by
management teams – is also an important factor. This research addresses this latter
area.

2. Relevant Literature
2.1 Definitions of Strategic Decisions
A strategic decision is defined as being “important, in terms of the actions taken, the
resources committed, or the precedents set” (Mintzberg, Raisinghani and Theoret
1976 p.246). Eisenhardt (1989) suggests they “(1) involve strategic positioning, (2)
have high stakes, (3) involve many of the firm’s functions, and (4) [are] considered
representative of the process by which major decisions are made at the firm”(p546).
Eisenhardt & Zbaracki (1992) add that strategic decisions are “those infrequent
decisions made by the top leaders of an organization that critically affect
organizational health and survival” (p.17).

Complexity theorists (e.g. Stacey 1995) have argued that organisations are systems in
which long term outcomes are the result of the entire history of an organisation, not of
a single action or decision. This view is echoed by Hamel and Prahalad’s (1989)
suggestion that firms should establish “strategic intent”, and Eisenhardt’s (1997) that
“improvisation”, as in jazz or drama, is a relevant metaphor to describe strategic
management. Despite this, Dean and Sharfman (1996) note that in their research,
managers had no trouble in identifying strategic decisions, and a key objective of
Strategic Decision Making research remains to establish generalisable rules of how to
make successful decisions.



2.2 Characteristics of Successful Strategic Decision Making Processes
Given the importance of these types of decisions, researchers have examined ...

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