Decision Making at the Top: The Shaping of Strategic Direction

Decision Making at the Top: The Shaping of Strategic Direction

Decision Making at the Top: The Shaping of Strategic Direction

Decision Making at the Top: The Shaping of Strategic Direction

Excerpt

This book grew out of a series of informal and wide-ranging discussions involving ourselves and our colleague John McArthur, who retired from the study to assume additional administrative duties. Rooted in different disciplines, we were struck both by the similarities and by the differences in our perceptions of the forces shaping top management's choice of strategic goals and the means to achieve them. We were also impressed by differences between the literature of our fields and our personal experience with corporate managers. Intrigued by these discrepancies, as well as by the possibilities inherent in an interdisciplinary study of corporate goal formation, we began to think more specifically about the form such a study could take.

Despite the differences in our theoretical perspectives and training, we shared a commitment to clinical research. Believing that the generation of knowledge about business administration can be furthered by a careful study of actual administrative situations, we designed our project accordingly. We chose a limited number of successful, mature companies, and we embarked upon a careful and thorough study of the financial and psychological forces that shaped their top managers' strategic choices.

The nature of this clinical research is described in detail in appendix A. What we would add here are our memories of the people and experiences that were part of the research. As we traveled from coast to coast to visit these companies and interview their most senior executives, we were greatly aided by our research assistants, Carl Kester and James Singer. Both were skillful and dedicated interviewers and investigators. Without their help we could not have completed the arduous program of field research upon which this book is based. In addition, Jim brought the order to our documents that allowed us to classify and compare the companies. Carl . . .

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