The external environment’s effect on management and strategy : A complexity theory approach
Mason, Roger Bruce
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Purpose – This paper seeks to investigate the inﬂuence of the external environment on the choice of strategic management activities, from a chaos and complexity perspective, since a business environment is a complex adaptive system. Design/methodology/approach – The study in this paper was of an exploratory nature, using the qualitative techniques of case study, depth interviews and document analysis to collect data from two companies each in the IT and packaging industries, namely, more successful/less successful companies. Findings – The paper ﬁnds that ﬁrst, it was proposed that more successful companies in turbulent environments would use radical, fast and disruptive strategies. Furthermore, strategy making should be a democratic, bottom-up process and should be organic, self-organising, adaptive and emergent. The results conﬁrmed these propositions. Second, it was proposed that more successful companies in stable environments would use more traditional management and strategies and more formal strategy planning activities. The ﬁndings did not conﬁrm this proposition, probably due to the fact that in reality a truly stable environment does not exist in South Africa. Originality/value – This paper is of beneﬁt to managers and strategists by emphasising a new way to consider the future management and strategies of their companies. Since businesses and markets are complex adaptive systems, using complexity theory to increase understanding of how to cope in complex and turbulent environments is necessary, but has not been widely researched.
Mason, R.B. 2007. The external environment’s effect on management and strategy : A complexity theory approach. Management Decision. 45(1): 10-28.