Analysing strategic decision-making in an environment with high rates of change : a model for leaders of organisations

Weilert, Heinz Maria (2011-03)

Thesis (MPhil (Information Science))--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The thesis deals with the context, content (being concepts) and process of model development. They are combined to propose a model for analysing strategic decision-making in an environment characterised by high rates of change. Over the last 230 years, society has been re-categorised from ‘agricultural’ to ‘industrial’ and, more recently to ‘post-industrial’. Naturally, organisations are part of such society, and strategy formation, as a process which is located within organisations, can only be discussed within the context of the current society. By necessity therefore, the model for analysing strategic decision-making would seek to reflect on the development of organisational strategies in the current environment. This rapidly changing environment is characterised by uncertainty which impacts on organisational decision-making. Chapter 2 describes how the effects of uncertainty influences decisions and outcomes, particularly when considering the decision-maker’s ability to manage risks emanating from the environment, as well as organisational risks within own work domains. The loose coupling of cause and effect leads to a conceptual problem when linear rationality is used to frame meaning. Decision-makers experience demand to change such meaning (and structure) based on the reality they are experiencing, presenting them with perceived dichotomies. In order to overcome such dichotomies, ‘Constructivism’, as a methodology, is used to provide form, acknowledging assumptions about behaviour and structure. The assumptions are discussed using conceptual continuums (presenting the perceived dichotomies), posed as a ‘framework’ intended to assist leaders in dealing with uncertainty. Order, for example, is temporarily established through standards that give an organisation stability. Innovation as a concept, on the other hand, is associated with the flexibility required to succeed in dynamic environments. Strategy formation in this thesis deals with the concepts ‘organising’, ‘standardising’, ‘rationalising’, ‘emergence’, ‘complexification’ and ‘innovation’ that form part of such framework. Chapter 3 provides insight to organisational order, which emerges from the interplay between ‘strategy formation’ as a deliberate process, and the emergent and varied organisational and contextual forces at play over time. The process forms a narrative – and provides some of the organisational stability. Strategies emerge, as would the institution created by the interplay. The interplay results from continuous interaction between the intentional strategic intervention and its actual interpretation or sensemaking throughout the organisation and its context by those - including the leadership - who are operationalising the strategies. The process of strategy formation provides opportunity for self-reflection by the decision-makers (the I), the team members (the We), and the organisation - embodied in the social constructs created through communication, processes and actions. Chapter 4 connects the individual concepts in an iterative process of strategy formation, using a morphological approach, to create structure from relationships. This enables the creation of a normative model, which can be used in the process of analysing strategic decision-making as a whole, that is, incorporating both the intention and its implementation. The interplay and change of form provide the insight and the impetus for change to the leader’s understanding of the schemata employed, the schemata embodied in organisational strategy formation, as well as in decision-making.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die tesis handel met die konteks, inhoud (konseptueel) en proses van model ontwikkeling. Hierdie dimensies word gekombineer om ‘n model voor te stel waarmee strategiese besluitneming in ‘n omgewing met hoë ‘n veranderingstempo ge-analiseer kan word. Gedurende die afgelope 230 jaar is ons sosiale omstandighede geherklassifiseer van ‘agraries’ na ‘industriëel’ en meer onlangs, na ‘post-industriëel’. Natuurlik is organisasies deel van die totale sosiale omgewing en kan strategievorming, as ’n proses wat geplaas is binne organisasies, alleen bespreek word binne die konteks van die huidige samelewing. Dit is dus noodsaaklik dat die model vir die analise van strategiese besluitneming poog om na te dink oor die ontwikkeling van organisatoriese strategieë in die huidige omgewing. Die snelveranderende omgewing word gekenmerk deur onsekerheid wat ’n impak het op organisatoriese besluitneming. Hoofstuk 2 beskryf hoe die gevolge van onsekerheid besluite en resultate beïnvloed, veral wanneer in ag geneem word wat die besluitnemer se vermoë is om risikos wat voortspruit uit die omgewing, asook organisatoriese risikos binne die eie werksdomein, te bestuur. Die losse verband tussen oorsaak en gevolg lei tot konseptuele probleem wanneer ‘n linêre rasionaliteit gebruik word om betekenis te vorm. Besluitnemers ervaar eise om sodanige betekenis (en struktuur) te verander, gebaseer op die werklikheid soos dit ervaar word, aangesien skynbare teenstellings na vore kom. Ten einde sulke teenstellings te bowe te kom, word konstruktiwisme as ‘n metodologie gebruik om aannames oor gedrag en struktuur te erken. Die aannames word bespreek met gebruik van konseptuele kontinuums (wat die skynbare teenstellings in ’n eenheid voorstel), en word gestel as raamwerk wat bedoel is om leiers te help om suksesvol met onsekerheid om te gaan. Orde word byvoorbeeld tydelik tot stand gebring deur organisatoriese standaarde wat organisatoriese stabiliteit bring Innovasie as konsep word daarnaas geassosiëer met die soepelheid wat nodig is om in dinamiese omgewings suksesvol te wees. Strategievorming handel in hierdie tesis met die konsepte ‘organisering’, ‘standardisering’, ‘rasionalisering’, ‘ontluiking’, ‘kompleksifikasie’ en ‘innovasie’ wat deel vorm van sodanige raamwerk. Hoofstuk 3 gee insig in die organisatoriese orde wat ontluik uit die interaksie tussen ‘strategievorming’ as bewuste proses en die ontluikende en veranderlike organisatoriese en kontekstuele kragte wat oor tyd heen aan die orde kom. Die proses vorm ‘n narratief – en voorsien gedeeltelik organisatoriese stabiliteit. Strategieë ontluik soos wat die instelling deur die interaksies gevorm word. Die interaksies is die gevolg van voortdurende wisselwerking tussen die bedoelde strategiese intervensies en die werklike interpretasie of singewing deur die organisasie heen en in die konteks deur diegene – insluitende die leierskap – wat die strategieë operasionaliseer. Die proses van strategievorming gee die geleentheid vir selfrefleksie deur die besluitnemers (die Ek), die spanlede (die Ons), en die organisasie – uitgedruk in die sosiale konstrukte wat deur kommunikasie, prossese en aksies geskep word. Hoofstuk 4 verbind die individuele konsepte in ‘n iteratiewe proses van strategievorming, om daarmee struktuur uit verhoudings te skep. Dit maak die daarstelling van ’n normatiewe model wat gebruik kan word in die analise van strategiese besluitneming as geheel, dit wil sê, met insluiting van beide die intensie en die implementering, moontlik. Die interaksie en verandering van vorm gee die insig en die impetus vir verandering aan die leier se verstaan van die skematas wat gebruik word, skematas wat beliggaam is in organisatoriese stratiegievorming en besluitneming.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/6491
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