Systems Thinking and Strategic Decision-Making: A Consideration of Chaos Theory
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Strategic decision-making is a fundamental process in business management as strategic decisions affect the long-term health of the organisation. However, a constantly and unpredictably changing business environment, becoming progressively more complex as time passes makes strategy formulation increasingly difficult. Shock events such as terrorist attacks, rapidly spreading communicable diseases, and unexpected business failures of large and well-established companies greatly affect organisations by making it difficult to effectively plan for the future. This thesis contributes to the strategic decision-making literature by investigating the role of shock events in a complex system, namely strategic decision-making. Using chaos/complexity theory as an intellectual platform this thesis argues that strategic decision-making is a complex, open, dynamic and non-linear system and that shock events can represent an opportunity in strategic decision-making. A number of contemporary writers are calling for more integrated models. In response this research proposes a generic and integrative framework that highlights the complexity of strategic decision-making and its processes. The research is qualitative and a single-case study approach was chosen, examining the decision-making processes in a large Australian regional airport. Data collection was triangulated, consisting mainly of in-depth interviews with executives but also included questionnaires, and quantitative and qualitative archival data. It was found that shock events influenced strategic decision-making by causing evolutionary changes in the strategic decision-making processes. In addition it was found that shock events impacted on internal drivers such as cognition and organisational culture. The shock event was perceived as an opportunity, which resulted in changing decision-making processes a change in business strategy. It was concluded that environmental perception, intuition and an opportunity-seeking culture can play an important part in strategic decision-making following a shock event.
Master of Philosophy (MPhil)
Griffith Business School
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