Handbook of Research on Strategy Process
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Handbook of Research on Strategy Process

Edited by Pietro Mazzola and Franz W. Kellermanns

The Handbook of Research on Strategy Process reveals the current state of the art of strategy process research as a whole as well as emerging research initiatives. It also discusses managerial and organizational factors affecting strategy implementation.
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Chapter 2: Shifting Focus from the Determinants to the Origin: The Foundations of a Dynamic View of Managerial Discretion

Ingo Kleindienst and Thomas Hutzschenreuter


Ingo Kleindienst and Thomas Hutzschenreuter INTRODUCTION One of the most pervasive issues in the strategic management literature is the question of whether organizational adaptation is environmentally or managerially derived. In particular, at issue is the question of whether managers matter and, if so, under what circumstances (Boyd and Gove, 2006). In response to the two opposing views that have historically developed – that is, voluntarism (Andrews, 1971; Child, 1972) and determinism (Aldrich, 1979; Hannan and Freeman, 1984) – Hambrick and Finkelstein (1987) proposed the concept of managerial discretion. The concept was developed to represent the degree to which managers possess latitude of action, thereby reconciling the aforementioned two polar views. Over the past two decades the concept of managerial discretion has proven to be very appealing conceptually and has been widely cited in leading strategic management journals.1 However, as Keegan and Kabanoff (2008) have pointed out, the difficulty of operationalizing managerial discretion has led the concept to perhaps have far less impact on the strategic management literature to date than it should have (Ketchen et al., 2008). This assessment was further corroborated by Boyd and Gove’s (2006) review, revealing a total of only 16 studies that have empirically explored managerial discretion. Even more striking is the fact that to date no study has taken a dynamic view of managerial discretion, despite the fact that Hambrick and Finkelstein (1987: 403) called for the development of such a temporal, dynamic view. However, as Finkelstein and Peteraf (2007: 244) have emphasized, the question of how...

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