Comprehensive review of articles related to business

Running head: BUSI 770 LITERATURE REVIEW 1
BUSI 770 Literature Review
Abstract
This literature review encompasses a comprehensive review of articles related to business
strategy. In the first section, decisional processes are explored. Common individual and group
decisional processes are identified and explained from research literature. Each decisional
process is examined to determine whether it aids or impedes business decisions. A discussion
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section is provided to summarize the author’s determinations. In the second section, the newest
directions of strategy development and execution are examined. These topics include agile,
sustainability and scalable business strategies. Each topic is briefly defined and explained to
enhance the readers understanding of these innovative processes. In the final section, the author’s
academic discipline, as a function within an organization, will be examined. Key aspects of
project management and strategy development and execution are compared for similarities. This
will include the impacts on business strategy development and execution. Finally, a conclusion
section will summarize these three sections and provide key takeaways.
Keywords: strategy, decision, decision processes, strategy development, strategy
execution
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Individual and Group Decision Processes
Introduction
This portion of the literature review examines how individual and group decision
processes aid or impede business decision making. In the first section, individual decisional
processes are defined. The paper briefly explains common individual decision processes and how
individual processes aid or impede business decisions. In the next section, common group
decisional processes will be explained. Each of these common group decisional processes will
provide a brief description on how these aid or impede business decisions.
Individual Decisional Processes
Decision-making style has been defined as “a habitual pattern individuals’ use in decision
making” (Driver, 1979). Harren (1979), defines this process as the individual’s characteristic
mode of perceiving and responding to decision-making activities. Driver, Brousseau and
Hunsaker (1990), suggest that the decision-making process is defined by the amount of data
collected and the number of alternatives considered when making the final decision. According
to Scott and Bruce (1995), individual decisional processes are regarded as a characteristic
response that results in an influenced-based propensity to react a certain way in a specific
decisional situation. These different decision-making processes can be classified by
characteristics such as: spontaneous, rational/analytical, intuitive, or dependent. For example, a
spontaneous style emphasizes a desire to get through the decision-making process as fast as
possible, a rational/analytical style emphasizes a thorough search for data and/or logical
evaluation of alternatives, an intuitive style emphasizes a dependency on a hunch and/or feeling,
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a dependent style emphasizes a search for consultation and/or input from others and an avoidant
style emphasizes postponing and/or avoiding the decision (Scott & Bruce, 1995). A
comprehensive understanding of these factors prepares the decision-maker for the impacts that
both aid and impede decisions in business.
Spontaneous decision process. Decision speed achieved by spontaneous decisionmaking style can be a source of competitive edge in the pursuit of marketing innovation
(Bourgeois and Eisenhardt, 1988). This can aid business decisions, because time is considered a
scarce organizational resource, which requires decisional speed. This is important in
organizations where competition necessitates decision-making processes, which complements
fast paced markets. In these markets, organizational leaders need time-based results that enable
progress toward particular objectives. This indicates that organizations empower these decisionmakers with an appropriate level of authority, which increases speed of decisions in market
environments (Angwin, 2004).
Organizations and individual decision-makers develop and implement spontaneous
decisions influenced by internal and external environmental factors. According to Spicer and
Sadler-Smith (2005), spontaneous decision-makers reflect characteristics of impulsiveness,
which implies the individual is prone to make wide-ranging and/or instant decisions. Based on
this, Spicer and Sadler-Smith (2005), concluded that individuals that fit under this spontaneous
decision-making category, better handle marketing circumstances that require decisions to
maintain the pace of the market, such as stock market transactions. Other research supports this
claim by suggesting that decisional speed is a decisive competitive strategy for market
innovation (Förster, Higgins, & Bianco, 2003). Similar research also concluded that spontaneous
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decision making did not lessen the quality of the choice (Eisenhardt, 1989). Likewise, extended
processing time to make decisions did not necessarily guarantee, or increase decisional accuracy.
Rational. Based on research conducted by Tversky and Kahneman (1986), a rational
decision-making style encompasses a well-calculated plan of activities in order to implement a
way forward for the purpose of solving problems. Claxton, Sculpher and Drummond (2002),
which examined the relationship between rational decision-making style and decision quality,
suggest a direct correlation. This is because the individual forestalls the need to make an
immediate decision and prepares for it by seeking relevant data about the internal and external
environment, before committing to a course of action. Tversky and Kahneman (1986), supports
this by concluding that the processes that influence quality for a course of action, such as
information gathering, reduces the speed of the decision. Therefore, in the rational decisionmaking style, an individual’s primary approach is to collect data for systematic processing,
which is subject to the influences of internal and external sources to develop a quality decision
that leads a strategic market innovation (Omotola, 2012). This can aid the process of developing
strategic plans that have sizable impacts on the organization.
In this decision-making process, time to systematically analyze information and develop
potential alternatives from different scenarios is needed before making the choice. These
hypothesized scenarios are then evaluated by probabilities and the individual determines the
potential results, or impacts of each choice for each alternative. In this process, the final decision
would be for the choice that represents the best possible result (Almeida, Prieto, Ferrando, &
Oliveira, 2008). Therefore, rational decision-making presumes that available data empowers the
individual to develop a choice for the best possible decision. The rationale, of selecting what data
to analyze and which to not analyze, becomes a biased choice (Citroen, 2011). The key
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characteristic in this decision-making process is that the choice is reached after an extensive
research of the available data is orderly timed, observed and examined in a rational and objective
way. This could lead to delayed decision making, which results in compromising the competitive
advantage.
Intuitive. An intuitive process to decision-making is primarily based on self-awareness,
rather than the relevant collection of data (Matzler, Bailom, & Mooradian, 2007). According to
Burke and Miller (1999), while intuition decision-making contains elements of the spontaneous
processes, an individual responds more on feelings to make the choice. The speed of developing
a decision to the choice is considered fast, depending on the personal feelings of the individual.
In these scenarios, the individual is able to make choices vital for capturing or creating
opportunities of strategic value in the context of marketing environments. The intuitive decisionmaking process literature can be traced back to Chester Barnard’s 1938 research on authentic
leadership (Buchanan & O Connell, 2006). The practice has gained in popularity because
organizations rely on prompt product/service delivery. It is characterized by two influential
factors, which are implicit and explicit in nature. The individual process utilized in the intuitive
is based on the results both positive and negative from previous decisions.
According to Patton (2003), there are three primary influencing factors used by the
intuitive decision-makers, when attempting to manage uncertainty and volatility, due to rapid and
complex changes in the business environment. Firstly, intuition is an elemental reaction in the
decision-making process based on instinct that produces a subconscious response, such as fight
or flight. Secondly, general experience gained through previous decisions involve learned
outcomes over time. Finally, focused learning to overcome personal barriers influence the
development and habits toward healthy reactions. These responses are typically suitable and
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applicable to the decisional scenario. However, decision quality and the speed can be impacted
because the business decisions executed remain habitual of the decision-maker. Therefore, the
process can be impeded in a stressful or high risk business environment, which can cause issues
for the decision-maker and the organization.
Dependent. The individual in a dependent decision-making process relies on input from
others for direction and support (Thunholm, 2004). Similar to communicating in a group
decision process, the individual is depending on interpersonal and intrapersonal skills to develop
a decision. This aids the process, which can result in a higher quality business decision. Also, this
process of seeking consultation and assistance from others can take the form of delegating
decisions, or are based on age as well as gender (Delaney, Strough, Parker, & de Bruin, 2015).
Decisions are less likely to be resisted as other individuals have already been consulted and are
aware of the possible outcomes of the decision. However, the process can be impeded if the
decision-maker is required to operate independently. This can hinder the speed and quality of
making a decision.
Saaty (2007), concluded that dependent decision-makers have various reasons as to how
or why the individual prefers involvement by others. For example, the decision-maker utilizes
advice of other individuals to make important decisions. However, the decision maker-rarely
takes full responsibility, or accountability in making important decisions without consultation.
This could impede organizational decision making processes as it leads to lower morale and a
burdensome environment for other individuals. For example, a nightshift supervisor that is a
dependent decision-maker at a manufacturing plant, that must make a decision without the
desired input/support, will struggle, if not outright fail, to meet the immediate needs of the
organization.
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Group decision making processes.
According to Kiesler and Sproull (1992), the group decision making process is the
collective activity that requires multiple individuals interacting to analyze a problem and explore
alternatives to develop a solution. Gruenfeld, Mannix, Williams and Neale (1996), suggest that
group decision making has its own set of processes based on a variety of influences. These
processes can be classified as: autocratic, democratic, collective and consensus. For example, in
the autocratic process, the leader takes complete control and ownership of the decision, in the
democratic process, a leader gives up ownership and control of a decision and allows the group
to vote, in the collective process, the leader will involve the members, but makes the final
decision alone and in the consensus process, the leader gives up complete control of the decision
and the whole group is totally involved and invested in the decision. Each decision making
process affects the group in unique ways and has characteristic advantages and disadvantages.
This portion of the literature review will expand on these common processes utilized in the
business environment.
Autocratic. An autocratic decision making process is one in which the group leader
seizes complete control and ownership of the choice (Eisenhardt, 1989). This group leader is
completely responsible for the results that transpire from the decision, whether that result is
negative or positive. In this scenario, the autocratic leader does not request for input (e.g. ideas or
suggestions) from the group. The leader chooses based on their internal data and perception of
the situation.
According to Eisenhardt, (1989), decisions utilizing this process are considered fast,
which the leader is personally responsible. This can be a benefit in an emergency, wartime, or
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rapidly changing market situations, in which the autocratic style is often the preferred or the best
choice. This aids the decision making process, because the choice provides speed and direction.
This decision process can impede as well. The disadvantages can include a less than
desired effort from the individual/group that must execute the order or choice. For instance, if an
individual or group member is impacted by the choice, but did not have an opportunity to
provide input in the decision making process, there could be negative consequences on morale
and motivation (Scandura, Graen, & Novak, 1986). If the choice did not have a positive
outcome, the individual or group member could begin to feel resentful. This can lead to the belief
that a better decision could have been made and the leader could lose credibility (pp. 579-580).
Democratic. According to Hwang and Lin (2012), the democratic decision process, also
known as participative leadership, or shared leadership, is a type of leadership style in which
individuals within the group take a participative role in the decision-making. The decisionmaking process can apply to any organization. For example, it can be witnessed in private/public
organizations such as Google, Amazon, schools and some governments. In these cases, all
individuals are provided an opportunity to participate, ideas are exchanged freely and discussions
are encouraged. In this process, the leader of the group provides guidance and control, while the
decision making process focuses on resolving the situation. Also, the leader is responsible for
deciding the group members and who contributes to the discussions and decisions (p. 30).
Researchers, such as Papadopoulos and Warin (2007), suggest that the democratic
decision making process is one of the most effective types. Team members vote with the majority
providing the decisive action to be executed. This aids the business, because the style of decision
making leads to higher productivity, better contributions from groups and increased group
morale. There is a disadvantage of this process, which comes from the lack of assigned
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responsibility. No single individual can claim responsibility for the decision reached. For
example, because there is not a requirement for a consensus, the group leader can deny
responsibility, since they voted against the majority vote (pp. 446-469).
Collective/Collaborative. The collective/collaborative group decision making process,
involves the leader engaging members of the organization that are impacted by the decision
(Irvin & Stansbury, 2004). In this process the leaders request information and engage the
members to provide data, ideas, perceptions and experience concerning the situation (Jankowski,
Nyerges, Smith, Moore & Horvath, 1997). This allows all members to work collectively, or
collaborate to explore possible options and work toward the final decision. However, the leader
has responsibility for the final decision, whether the results are positive or negative.
The process aids the business decisions, because of the enhanced involvement and
participation of the group within the organization (Irvin & Stansbury, 2004). The introduction of
diversity in opinion allows for different perspectives to be examined. There is increased morale,
because the individuals impacted are included. Additional information/data can be gleaned from
subject matter experts from the various components of the organization. These provide the leader
a more expansive understanding of the situation and allows for additional factors to be
considered to develop a better final decision. This process can also impede business decisions as
well. For example, this process can slow decision making ability. This can be caused by disparity
in opinions, risk tolerance and avoidance/procrastination (pp. 56-60).
Consensus/Unanimous. The consensus/unanimous decision making process involves the
leader giving up complete control of the final decision (Bressen, 2007). The entire group has
total involvement and investment in the process and final decision (Michaelsen, Watson & Black,
1989). As a result, the entire group is responsible for the final outcome of the decision. This
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method differs from the democratic process, because all members must agree on the final
decision. If members do not fully agree, the decision process becomes democratic.
According to Michaelsen, Watson and Black (1989), this process aids in business
decisions, because it generates a strong group commitment. This is because all members engage
equally and have a vested interest in the final decision. There is also a higher probability of
success compared to individualistic processes. However, the process can impede business
decisions, because of the slower progress in developing the decision (Irvin & Stansbury, 2004).
This is because the group must work through the group forming processes such as forming,
storming, normalizing and performing. Also, there is a risk of groupthink in this process.
Groupthink is caused by individuals that do not want a confrontation within the group. This can
lead to undesired outcomes (p. 62).
Discussion.
According to the literature, individual and group decision making processes can aid, or
impede business decisions based on application. Overall, it can be concluded that individuals are
more likely to make decisions faster than groups. This can aid business in rapidly changing
environments. However, the risks associated with rapid decision making increases. Therefore, it
would be beneficial for a business leader to limit the scope of individual decisions to areas of
expertise.
Group decision processes are better for more complex issues that require time to
determine the correct course of action. However, it would be beneficial for the business to utilize
a democratic, collective, or unanimous group decision process. These provide the best
opportunity for the business decision to succeed, because of the participatory characteristics of
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these processes. Not involving the group can lead to consequences. That stated, the autocratic
process should be recommended for emergency situations such as when time is a critical factor.
Finally, the decision making processes can be blended. For example, blending the
beneficial characteristics of individual and group processes could aid business decisions. This
involves the decision-maker analyzing and developing a solution to a problem. Afterwards, the
final decisional product is presented to a group/board for refinement, approval and/or
implementation. This provides a hybrid of the two process groups, in which the beneficial
characteristics of both are incorporated together to aid in decision making.
Newest Directions in the Process of Strategy Development and Execution
Strategy development and execution.
This portion of the literature review examines the newest directions in the process of
strategy development and execution. Three new directions are examined and briefly discussed in
this section. These new directions are agile, sustainable and scalable strategic processes. Also,
the advantages and disadvantage of each process will be provided.
Agile. Agile varies from traditional development paradigms in that agile paradigms adapt
well to rapidly changing market conditions (Austin & Devin, 2009). Austin and Devin (2009),
research suggests that traditional strategy planning, in conjunction with the developmental time
spent on design for key organizational operations to meet market conditions, will result in
reduced flexibility, which is a necessary trade-off. In contrast, agile strategy planning and
development utilizes an iterative approach that can still meet all market conditions. However, the
frequent iterations allow for repeated strategy refinement during execution to provide a more
desirable result.
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Mintzberg (1987), suggests that traditional approaches to strategic planning and
execution are conundrums. It is argued that effective strategic planning and execution are more
likely to occur in an informal way and during real time operations by means of conversations or
self-reflection. This is supported by research conducted by Beinhocker and Kaplan (2002), which
state that strategic planning and execution should focus on enabling two different organizational
components. These two components are preparing minds for developing the strategy and
encouraging creativity during execution. Therefore, agile was adopted from software
development to assist with the process of strategy development and execution (Cervone, 2014).
Agile process. According to Beinhocker and Kaplan (2002), the first component is to
build “prepared minds”. This means that the organization must ensure that decision makers have
a solid understanding of the business, its strategic goals and the internal/external environmental
factors behind the strategy. Preparing the minds of the strategic planners in this way provides
background to the market climate.
According to Beinhocker and Kaplan (2002), with the agile process, there is limited
approach toward attendees. This group is considered small by traditional standards with 2 – 9
individuals (Boehm & Turner, 2005). This is called a Scrum, which is a subset of Agile. It is a
lightweight process framework for agile strategy development. This is recommended because
real collaboration does not occur in large groups (Beinhocker & Kaplan, 2002). These attendees
are limited to the primary strategy developers and decision-makers. The strategy is developed
utilizing sprints. These sprints are timed efforts in which the durations are restricted. During
these sprints, the strategy is developed component by component with consideration to the
internal and external environmental factors. The group is allowed to self-organize and
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empowered to develop and explore alternatives collaboratively to develop the strategy. This
prepares the individuals minds to create an innovative strategy for the market.
Agile execution. The second component involves increasing the creativity of the strategy
executed within the organization (Beinhocker & Kaplan, 2002). This requires the organization to
be more flexible and decrease decision-making times during refinements. Being more flexible
within the organization creates environments that are more supportive and encourages creativity.
For this to occur, Austin and Devin (2009), suggest that frontline managers need to be
empowered to assist with the strategy execution efforts. This empowerment includes making
adjustments to the strategy to meet customer needs and responding to fluctuations in the market.
This enables the decision-makers to respond swiftly to challenges and opportunities as they
occur in real time (p. 2).
Beinhocker and Kaplan (2002), recommends that during execution, a formal strategy
review should be conducted. This measures the number of breakthrough ideas strategy execution
produces. The flexibility created through the agile planning and execution process allows for
adjustments based off these measures. This is because this further develops an understanding of
market environment, challenges, opportunities and economics, thus laying the groundwork for
better real-time strategic decision making going forward.
Advantages/disadvantages. An agile strategy allows for flexibility and adaptability
within planning and execution (Austin and Devin, 2009). Because the strategy development
process is not formal and decision makers work in short intervals on smaller milestones,
significant requirements of the strategy can change as development proceeds without much loss
of productivity. Also an agile strategy promotes a focus on individual customer requirements
(Cockburn & Highsmith, 2001).
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In complex and/or large organizations, an agile strategy could be potentially crippling,
because vital features might be forgotten or misunderstood. This can be caused by the short
iterations of agile development. Also, in large organizations, agile strategy development does not
promote formal lines of communication. According to Pikkarainen, Haikara, Salo, Abrahamsson,
and Still (2008), in larger developmental situations involving multiple external stakeholders, a
mismatch of adequate communication mechanisms can sometimes even hinder the
communication (p. 303-305).
Sustainable. Organizations have been attributed for negatively impacting the
environment and society (Teece, 2010). As a result, organizations have attempted to develop
sustainable strategies (Fowler & Hope, 2007). Such sustainable strategies are a response to
address customer concerns within the market as well as governmental regulations/standards.
Organizations develop and utilize these sustainable strategies to leverage opportunities to
discerning customers. This strategy type is an attempt to delineate environmentally friendly
organizations from others.
Hagel and Brown (2005), suggest that a sustainability strategy should be conceptualized
through various methods. For example, a sustainable linked narrative that describes special
features, attributes, and/or characteristics of the product/service. Likewise, strategy development
could include listing the environmentally sensitive manufacturing methods.
Sustainable process. According to Boons and Lüdeke-Freund (2013), there are four
organizational components that need to be examined to develop a sustainable strategy. In the first
component, the organization needs to conduct a thorough self-examination to determine if the
value proposition is succinct with ecological and/or social value, when contrasted to economic
value. This provides a baseline to develop a sustainable strategy, while balancing organizational
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profits. In the second component, the supply chain is evaluated. This involves the inclusion of
suppliers to develop policies that address environmental concerns that are within the
organizational influence. This makes suppliers a stakeholder as well as responsible for a portion
of the strategy success. The third component is customer interface. Customers are surveyed to
determine environmental tolerance and responsibility. This process serves to educate decisionmakers and customers on the product/service as well as determining consumption and disposal
habits. The fourth component for examination is the organization’s financial model. This
examination is to ensure that the sustainable strategy can be supported (pp. 15-17).
This portion of the process of sustainable strategy development focuses on the external
and internal environments. For example, the supply chain and customers were examined as well
as the value chain. These steps allow the organization to explore on a holistic and sustainable
level to develop strategy that takes full advantage of opportunities within the market.
Sustainable execution. According to Gamble, Peteraf and Thompson (2019), after an
organization has developed and decided on a strategy, there should be an emphasis on turning the
plan into actions. Doing this effectively requires different sets of leadership skills (p. 200). This
is because, implementing and executing a sustainable strategy is central to operational activities,
which involves managing the workforce and business processes with an environmental impact
conscious mindset. Successful sustainable strategy implementation and execution, results in
organizations achieving environmental goals, while balancing financial performance.
Schaltegger, Lüdeke-Freund and Hansen (2016), suggests the strategy execution should
communicate internally and externally the vision and direction of the organizational plan. Stubbs
and Cocklin (2008), recommend utilizing four steps to execute a sustainable strategy. The first
step in execution includes utilizing a triple bottom line approach to measure the organization’s
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performance. This achieves the mentioned narrative by announcing how efficient the
organization is using materials and resources. The second step incorporates the considerations
and priorities of all stakeholders, rather than giving priority to shareholders’ expectations. This
ensures the majority of stakeholders’ concerns are the focus of the organization. The third step is
to move the organizational culture toward treating the environment. This promotes
environmental stewardship as a key facet of the organizational culture. The fourth step in the
process is to inform customers and potential customers of the organizational stance toward
environmental stewardship (pp. 114-117). This champions the sustainable strategy and delineates
the organization from competitors.
This is supported by Gamble, Peteraf and Thompson (2019). Gamble, Peteraf and
Thompson (2019), suggests that executing a strategy involves developing an understanding of
the specific techniques, actions and behaviors that are needed to get activities done and deliver
results. Eight managerial activities are provided to execute a sustainable strategy. These eight
processes include: (1) training/educating the organization’s workforce capabilities to achieve the
strategy, (2) allocating resources toward strategic activities, (3) streamlining organizational
policies and procedures to facilitate sustainability, (4) adopting practices that encourage
continuous improvement, (5) upgrading information and operating systems that enable the
workforce, (6) rewarding efforts directly associated with the achievement of sustainable
objectives, (7) encourage the corporate culture and (8) pushing leadership at all levels to propel
the sustainable strategy. These strategic execution activities move the strategic design from a
merely a document to actions that enhance organizational sustainability (Gamble, Peteraf, &
Thompson, 2019; Stubbs & Cocklin, 2008).
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Advantages/disadvantages. According to Schaltegger, Lüdeke-Freund and Hansen
(2012), the costs of executing a sustainable strategy are much higher than the costs of nonenvironmentally friendly strategies. The strategy requires additional efforts to organize, monitor
and administer (Pinto & De Oliveira, 2008). Another disadvantage to a sustainable strategy is the
limitation on alternatives such as resources, transportation and/or waste disposal (pp. 341-344).
These disadvantages can prevent the execution of a sustainable strategy or prevent an
organization from entering into a new market.
An advantage of a sustainable strategy is that it appeals to customers in developed
countries, because of the perception of improving or maintaining quality of life for future
generations (Schaltegger, Lüdeke-Freund, & Hansen, 2012). A sustainable strategy set the
organization apart from competitors (Wagner & Schaltegger, 2003). It also teaches responsibility
and sets a standard for competitors. These items are advantages that customers are more likely to
pay extra for in a product/service (pp. 7-8).
Scalable. According to Björkdahl and Holmén (2013), a scalable strategy requires an
organization to focus on improving the profitability and efficiency of product/service
development when workloads increase. A scalable organization has the capability of a system,
network, or process to handle a growing amount of customers. This can also include the potential
to become rapidly larger/smaller to accommodate market growth/shrinkage (p. 217). This means
that continuous improvement of profitability and efficiency must originate from the core of the
organizational strategy.
Scalable process. A scalable strategy development process begins with the organization
examining the internal operations (Björkdahl & Holmén, 2013). This is to ascertain a technical
know-how of all activities that are required to develop the product/service. The strategy
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developers must understand all functions of the organization well. This can include
supplies/materials, labor, labor hours and shipping activities (p. 218). Also, the external factors
must be examined as well. This includes forecasting market demand, whether there is an increase
or decrease in growth (Verreynne & Meyer, 2010). Likewise, stakeholders should be involved in
strategy development.
Other strategy development processes include considerations for algorithms, design,
network protocols, programs, or other systems in the form of nodes that can be scaled to
efficiently and practically meet market demand (Heinzelman, Sinha, Wang, & Chandrakasan,
2000). Forecasting serves to create strategic triggers to accommodate rapid fluctuation in market
demand. There are two primary strategies in the scalable approach. These are horizontal and
vertical scalability. While these are predominantly utilized in the tech industry, these
considerations can be adapted to delivery services and manufacturing as well.
Scalable execution. A horizontal scalable strategy involves adding/removing nodes
to/from the operating system (Rosenberg & Foshay, 2002). For example, adding computers to a
distributed software application in order to meet a rapid increase in demand (Younis & Akkaya,
2008). In this case, an organization needs a strategy to meet the sudden demand for an internet
search engine. This involves the decision-makers developing a strategy that is prepackaged, or
has strategic triggers that allow the organization to scale additional nodes from one server system
to three. A strategic trigger is defined as an event that rapidly creates an opening for a market
opportunity. The response must be rapid to meet the sudden demand and secure the market
advantage for the organization.
A vertical scale strategy involves adding/removing resources from an existing node in the
system. Younis and Akkaya (2008), uses the example of adding/removing memory from a
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computer or node. In a manufacturing environment, adding/removing resources would be to
increase/decrease labor hours, or to hire/layoff the labor force as market forecasts determine.
This results in the organization operating more cost effectively during sudden changes in the
market.
Advantages/Disadvantages. There are advantages/disadvantages between the two
scalable strategies. Neary, Brydon, Kmiec, Rollins and Cappello (2000), suggest that the larger
an organization, the more complexity the node management becomes. For example, a global
organization could have difficulty with effectively executing a scalable strategy if management is
not properly empowered. Likewise, forecasting errors can cause missed opportunities. However,
in markets where nodes can be idle for long periods of time, a rapid response through welldefined triggers can assist with meeting market demand (Kipley & Lewis, 2008). For example, a
disaster response, where the defined triggers are met, will set into motion for the utilization by
FEMA or the Red Cross.
Academic Focus and the Impact on the Processes of Business Strategy Development and
Execution as a Function within the Organization
My academic focus is project management. Project management is the science of
planning and executing an endeavor to develop a unique product/service (Webster & Knutson,
2004). In order for a project to be successful, both planning and execution must be implemented
properly. This requires planning and executing the individual project with a focus on achieving
results (Gamble, Peteraf, & Thompson, 2019, p. 14). For this section, a comparison between
developing and executing a project with the developing and execution of a strategy is conducted.
This is to examine the impacts my academic focus can provide for the development and
execution of an organizational strategy.
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Strategy/project development.
Similar to defining a project, strategy development begins with determining the end
vision (Gamble, Peteraf, & Thompson, 2019). This establishes and defines the desired outcomes
of the project/strategy. This can also include a list of project/strategy deliverables that are
outcome specific to each activity. The project manager/decision-maker works with the
organizational leadership to determine the vision for the product/strategy. Creating a vision
provides insights for the strategic future direction of the organization (p. 14).
Determination of influences. The processes of evaluating an organization’s internal
environment includes examining the collective resources and capabilities, the cost structure and
customer value plan and competitive strengths compared to competitors (Gamble, Peteraf, &
Thompson, 2019). To accomplish this process, the organization needs to answer five baseline
questions. These questions are: (1) how is the organizational strategy working, (2) what are the
organization’s resources and capabilities, (3) are the organization’s cost structure and customer
value plan competitive within the market, (4) is the organization stronger or weaker compared to
the competition and (5) what strategic issues/problems warrant immediate action. The
importance of these questions reveal what the organization does well and what items need
improvements, which is considered the internal environment (p. 65). This is similar to a project
manager determining project constraints.
Likewise the external environmental condition of the organization is examined. This
includes the influencing factors of the macro-environment. This can be accomplished through the
PESTEL analysis. The PESTEL analysis is six factors that impact the organization’s
environmental development. These are the political, economic, sociocultural, technological,
environmental/ecological and legal environment (Porter, 1989). The process also involves
BUSI 770 LITERATURE REVIEW 22
identifying dominant influential factors such as the size/capacity of the market, including growth
potential and customer base (Gamble, Peteraf & Thompson, 2019). This is similar to a project
manager conducting a risk analysis on a project.
To assist with these examinations, both organizational leaders and project managers can
utilize the SWOT analysis (Krogerus, Tschäppeler, Piening, & Earnhart, 2017). The SWOT is the
analysis of Strengths/Weaknesses/Opportunities/Threats. This assists with evaluating market
influences from both internal and external perspectives. From this analysis, the organizational
leader and/or project manager can develop and implement strategic decisions to ensure a
competitive edge within the market or project success (p. 12). For instance, weaknesses and
strengths could be internal to the organization. Threats and opportunities could be external
factors. For example, the organizational leader and/or project manager can better predict how
different decisions or scenarios will impact growth/progress of the organization/project based on
strengths and weaknesses. It can also assist with identifying opportunities to move into a market,
or competitors which would be considered a threat.
Strategy/project planning. After the vision and influencers are identified for the
project/strategy, the project manager/decision-maker needs to list all activities or tasks, how
these are related, how long each will take and how each is tied to a defined specific deadline
(Holloway, 2009). This assists with establishing the project constraints. These are considered
project scope (strategy), time and budget. These are vital because a change/modification in one
constraint typically affect the other constraints. For example, a short timeline constraint may
increase the budget to ensure resources can accomplish the project (Krogerus, et al., 2017). The
project manager also needs to manage assumptions and risks associated with undertaking the
defined project (p. 138).
BUSI 770 LITERATURE REVIEW 23
Strategy development involves these same activities. Gamble, Peteraf and Thompson
(2019), consider this process as establishing strategic objectives and is the second stage of
strategy development. For example, decision makers must determine all activities that are
required to plan and execute the strategy. This gives power to the design.
Power of design. Rumelt (2011), suggests that strategic design is powerful and similar to
warfare. This illustration expresses the criticality of designing a powerful strategy. It is also
stated that a strategy must be individualistic/unique to the goal of the organization and must
include plans and counterplans to outmaneuver competitors. This requires organizational leaders
to engage in strategic thinking to design a competitive strategy that anticipates a rival’s most
likely move. Without a strategic design Rumelt (2011), suggests many organizations would fail
to focus resources and efforts, leading to needless risk to ever-changing objectives and goals.
Therefore, organizations must build a well-designed strategy and focus resources, in order to
effectively execute a strategy.
That stated, designing a strategy for a project is similar to developing a strategy for an
organization. According to Holloway (2009), the strategic plan is at the heart of the project life
cycle as well as the organization. It tells the workforce, stakeholders and customers involved
where the project or organization is headed and how it will be achieved. The planning phase for a
project and organizational strategy is when the design is documented, the deliverables and
requirements are defined and the schedule is created. It involves creating a design that helps
guide both the project and organization through the implementation (pp. 52-54). The strategic
design created during this phase assists with managing time, costs, quality, change, risks and
related issues (Ebbesen & Hope, 2013). These also help communicate the strategy to
BUSI 770 LITERATURE REVIEW 24
stakeholders, workforce and internal/external suppliers to ensure strategy efficiency and
effectiveness.
Therefore, the power of design is similar in project management and organizational
strategy development. For instance, the strategic and project design establish business
requirements. This is the how, what and why for a project/organization in developing a strategic
design (Gamble, Peteraf, & Thompson, 2019). This process establishes costs, schedule,
deliverables and milestones for the strategy (Ebbesen & Hope, 2013). It provides a list of
resources required to achieve success. All items listed, create focus and power within the
project/organization.
Strategy/project execution.
After the project/strategy is designed, it can be implemented/executed. Because of the
design process, the project manager/organizational leaders know how many resources and how
much budget is needed to achieve the goal (Kerzner & Kerzner, 2017). This requires the project
manager/organizational leader to assign resources and allocate funds to various activities that
support the project/strategy. This is the process of turning the project/strategy into actions and
positive results. Doing this in an effective way requires different sets of leadership skills
(Gamble, Peteraf, & Thompson, 2019). This is because, implementing and executing a good
project/strategy is central to operational activities, which involves managing the workforce and
business processes/policies. Successful strategy/project implementation and execution has the
result of the organization achieving the targeted goal and financial performance milestones of the
plan (p. 200).
Executing strategy and a project are similar, because both involve developing an
understanding of the specific techniques, actions and behaviors that are critical to getting results
BUSI 770 LITERATURE REVIEW 25
(Gamble, Peteraf, & Thompson, 2019). There are eight managerial tasks associated with
organization efforts to execute a good strategy. First, developing the organization’s workforce
capabilities to fully implement the strategy/project successfully. Second, allocating enough
resources and focusing those resources toward strategy/project critical activities. Third,
streamlining organizational policies and procedures to facilitate effective execution. Fourth,
adopting practices that encourage continuous improvement. Fifth, facilitating upgrades to
information and operating systems that enable the workforce/project team to perform essential
activities. Sixth, rewarding efforts directly associated with the achievement of performance
objectives. Seventh, encouraging the corporate culture and/or project team in a way that develops
good strategy/project execution. Eighth, pushing leadership at all levels to propel implementation
forward.
Power of focus. These critical actions listed above initiate the strategic design from a
document to activities that enhance organizational growth and/or project progression (Gamble,
Peteraf, & Thompson, 2019). This process focuses implementation of the strategic design. It
enables the organization/project team to achieve strategic objectives and goals. This results in the
strategic design turning into strategic focus.
According to Rumelt (2011), power of focus involves a good strategy where the
organizational culture, activities and energies are moving in unison toward achieving the planned
result. Powerful focus means organizational policies and practices support, empower and
coordinate resources. To accomplish this, organizations/project managers need full buy-in on the
execution of the strategy. This results in a focus that powerfully implements the strategic design.
Therefore, both a powerful design and focus are relevant and vital to executing an effective
organizational strategy as well as a project.
BUSI 770 LITERATURE REVIEW 26
Tracking outcomes. Measuring performance is a critical factor in optimizing
performance in project and strategy execution (McLean, 2006). Tracking the details of progress,
the organizational leaders and/or project manager is able to understand how well the
project/strategy is progressing overall. When measuring, particular attention is focused towards
on-going activities and compared against schedule and budget estimates. This takes the form of a
balanced scorecard in some case. In project management this is called earned value management
(Kim, Wells & Duffey, 2003).
Assessing the degree to which the project/strategy is tracking to the designed schedule
and budget, provides indications of whether the organization and/or project team is going to meet
defined expectations (Kaplan & Norton, 1996). This can highlight the need to examine the
causes of strategic/project variance. After the causes are identified and understood, a corrective
of action can be developed and decided. This can lead to strategy/project refinements,
acceptance, or changing course to remediate the problem that was identified.
Discussion.
From the comparison provided above, it can be stated that my academic focus of project
management has wide-ranging impacts on the process of business strategy development and
execution as a function within the organization. There are several parallels and similarities
between project development and execution and strategy development and execution. In the
strategy development section, defining a project and a strategy begins with determining the
desired vision and focus (Gamble, Peteraf, & Thompson, 2019). This establishes and defines the
desired outcomes of the project/strategy (p. 14).
In the strategy/project influence section, the internal and external influences are
identified and examined to create and explain the environment (Gamble, Peteraf, & Thompson,
BUSI 770 LITERATURE REVIEW 27
2019). The methods mentioned are both widely utilized in project management and
organizational strategy development and execution. A primary decision model for both areas of
focus is the SWOT analysis. This analysis has the capability to examine current and potential
influences and gauge impacts on a strategy and/or project (Krogerus, et al., 2017).
In the strategy/project planning section, activities associated with strategy/project
development are compared. This includes, how these activities are related, how long each will
take and how each is tied to a defined specific deadline (Holloway, 2009). This assists with
establishing the project/strategy constraints. These are considered project scope (strategy), time
and budget. In comparison, these activities are parallel to my academic focus.
In the power of design section Rumelt (2011), suggests that strategic design is powerful
and similar to warfare. It is also stated that a strategy must be individualistic/unique to the goal
of the organization and must include plans and counterplans to outmaneuver competitors. Power
of design is at the heart of the project as well as the organization. It tells the workforce,
stakeholders and customers involved where the project or organization is headed and how it will
be achieved.
In the strategy/project execution, the designed project/strategy is implemented/executed.
In the design process, the project manager/organizational leaders know how many resources and
how much budget is needed to achieve the goal (Ebbesen & Hope, 2013). Therefore, in this
phase, the project manager/organizational leader undertakes the process of assigning resources
and allocating funds to various activities that support the project/strategy. This is the process of
turning the project/strategy into actions that lead to positive results.
In the power of focus section, the implementation of the strategic design is executed
efficiently and effectively. Focus provides empowerment to the organization/project team to
BUSI 770 LITERATURE REVIEW 28
achieve strategic objectives and goals. According to Rumelt (2011), power of focus involves a
good strategy, where the organizational culture, activities and energies are moving in unison
toward achieving the planned result. This is similar to a project manager focusing project budget
and resources to execute a project with maximum efficiency.
In the tracking outcomes section, the strategy and project progression is tracked. This is
accomplished to determine how effective the design and execution are underway, when
compared to schedule and budgets (Kaplan & Norton, 1996; Kim, Wells & Duffey, 2003). This
highlights causes of strategic/project variance. After the causes are identified and understood, a
corrective action can be developed and implemented. This can lead to strategy/project
refinements, acceptance, or changing course to remediate the problem that was identified. In
consideration of these elements of strategy development and execution, it can be stated that my
academic focus does have the potential to impact the organization’s strategy development and
execution.
Conclusion.
In the first section of this literature review, common individual and group decisional
processes were identified and explained. There have been various decision making studies
focused on individual and group decisional processes and the impacts to organizations.
Decisional making processes encompass one or more individuals that formulate and recommend
alternatives to choices. These choices are socialized, evaluated and determined, which impacts
the organization. Making decisions on an individual and/or group level has advantages and
disadvantages in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. Group dynamics and collaboration creates
advantages, because of the multitude of perspectives. At the same time, individuals can make fast
and excellent decisions with positive results, because of the singular focus. The key takeaway of
BUSI 770 LITERATURE REVIEW 29
this section is that decision processes can both aid and impede business decisions depending on
the situation. Choosing the right decisional process, whether individual or group, should be based
on the information available, situational factors and problem being solved.
In the second section, the newest directions in the process of strategy development and
execution were explored. These included agile, sustainable and scalable approaches. The agile
approach involves frequent iterations, which allows for repeated strategy refinement during
development and execution to provide a more desirable result, when meeting changing market
conditions. A sustainable approach is to address negative impacts to the environment and society.
This approach is a delineation strategy to leverage opportunities focused toward discerning
customers. The scalable approach involves developing prepackaged responses to triggers that
allows the organization to scale operations rapidly. The key takeaway from this section comes
from Mintzberg (1987). Mintzberg (1987), suggests that traditional approaches to strategic
planning and execution are not standardized practice. Strategy development must fit the
individual characteristics of the organization and the market.
In the final section, the author’s academic focus is examined for the applicability and
impact on the processes of business strategy development and execution as a function within the
organization. Project management as an academic focus is the science of planning and executing
an endeavor to develop a unique product/service. It was determined that this focus can be
directly applied to strategy development and execution. This is because developing and
executing a strategy can be viewed as a product that is unique to an organization. The key
takeaway is that the author’s academic focus has a positive impact on the development and
execution of a strategy as a function within the organization.
BUSI 770 LITERATURE REVIEW 30
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