Examination of political behavior by middle managers in international partnerships: a strategy process approach
The strategy process is viewed as a result of deliberate and emergent events, affected from different factors. Existing research in strategy making and implementation has suggested different micro-level factors affecting strategic decision making, mainly through research in single companies. Some factors include cognition, organisational learning and the roles of the top managers. This thesis attempts to gain a better understanding of the strategic decision making process through the investigation of the impact of middle managers' politics in the strategy process within international partnerships of the high tech sector. An abductive research approach is used, to investigate four case studies, combining different qualitative research methods. The research focuses on the formal and informal activities that middle managers engage in, in order to affect strategic decisions before, during and after these are made, through the different phases of a partnership. The organisational context of the study, this being international partnerships, enables the investigation of 35 decisions, 15 of which are in intra-organisational level, and 20 in inter-organisational. Findings suggest that the impact of political activity, between individual employees and groups of them in the intra-organisational environment, can be either integrative or fractious. This however appears to depend on three different factors: firstly, the tactics being applied during the decision making period; secondly, the phase of the partnership in which these decisions are being made; thirdly, the level of autonomy that middle managers enjoy during the formal and informal communications surrounding the decision making process. This study contributes in the strategy area as it suggests a coherent framework on investigating the causes and impact of political processes in organisations. Rather than using the criticised as abstract notions of 'positive/negative' impact of politics, it focuses on the way they integrate or fragment decision makers. This impact however appears to depend on the three aforementioned factors. The study contributes in strategy research, as it stretches the need for inquiry in the emerging strategic relationships area, by focusing on firm partnerships. Moreover, it stretches the need for abductive approaches, having as a departing point existing theoretical suggestions, in order to test theories and irregularities, and offer alternative explanations. The study concludes by suggesting two different frameworks to investigate the middle manager politics in firm partnerships, offering a meticulous way in investigating them through a processual approach.