Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An Assessment of the Role of Scenario-Based Anticipatory Organizational Learning in Strategy Development—An Organization Development Perspective
by Puthenveetil, John P., Ph.D., Benedictine University, 2016, 237; 10587691
Abstract (Summary)

The only two certainties in life are death and more uncertainty—with change the only constant. Rapidly changing environments require speedier response. We do not know what the future holds. Crafting strategy when the future is unknown and unknowable is challenging. The increasing uncertainty and turbulence has seen the gradual replacement of forecasting with scenario planning. Unfortunately, we are still trapped in the Taylorist paradigm that there is always one optimal strategy for any company to pursue. The global financial crisis of 2007-2009 provided a dramatic demonstration of the risk inherent in any strategic plan that relies on a unidimensional view of the future.

Using this crisis as a Petri dish, this research examined how well scenario planning worked. As the objective of scenario-based strategy development is to improve organizational agility (defined as the speed with which firms sensed and responded to an organizational crisis), the research measured how agile these firms were, measured against an established timeline and a sense and respond model, the Puthenveetil Model.

This study used a qualitative longitudinal case study method using purposive sampling of 14 firms that used scenario planning in strategy development and examined their strategies during the crisis ex post facto, only to find that most firms did not anticipate the crisis. Of those that did, only two—General Electric and Herman Miller, firms steeped in the learning/organization development culture—responded during the pre-crisis period. A surprising finding was that in six of the 14 firms, headcounts increased during this period. As to why so many firms failed to anticipate this crisis, there were three possible explanations: (a) the Cassandra Syndrome, (b) blind confidence in probability, and (c) reactive approach to change. The Puthenveetil Model could be used by individuals and organizations to prepare for the challenges of the VUCA world by hedging against the inevitable surprises that lurk in the background. Uncertainty is not an ally of confidence. Confidence is needed for commitment. Scenario-based thinking should help decision makers think clearly, feel confident, and act decisively.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Sorensen, Peter F., Jr.
School: Benedictine University
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 78/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Management, Finance, Economic history
Keywords: Anticipatory organizational learning, Puthenveetil model, Scenario learning, Scenario-based sense and respond model, Strategy development
Publication Number: 10587691
ISBN: 978-1-369-68413-1
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