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Performance heterogeneity under uncertainty: Six empirical studies examining the characteristics and consequences of strategic cognition, direction, and execution

Hudson, Kerry Louise 2022. Performance heterogeneity under uncertainty: Six empirical studies examining the characteristics and consequences of strategic cognition, direction, and execution. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis explores the strategy process in the context of heightened levels of uncertainty present in the contemporary business environment. This is an underexplored phenomenon in strategic management research, which raises questions about the scope and applicability of established theoretical frameworks. Focusing on two dominant perspectives—resource-based theory (RBT) and upper echelons theory (UET) —this thesis presents six studies that aim to explicate the nature and effects of uncertainty. These studies are used to address three core research questions that cover the strategy process from direction-setting to execution, specifically: (1) how boards with the ability to deal with uncertainty are formed; (2) how heterogeneity in board characteristics affects strategic direction under uncertainty; and (3) how heterogeneity in the execution of strategy under uncertainty affects firm performance. Key empirical phenomena under investigation include the cognitive characteristics of directors, the network of connections between boards, the strategic emphasis of firms, the proclivity of firms to deviate from strategic norms, and the deployment and development of resources via firm capabilities. Uncertainty at multiple levels is analysed, including the global regulatory environment, national macroeconomic conditions, persistent features of industries and sectors, and the dynamics of product-markets in which firms operate. The effects of these phenomena and their interactions with uncertainty are examined with respect to various firm-level outcomes, including financial performance, firm value, and the sustainment of competitive advantage. Each study is presented as a self-contained chapter with detailed recommendations for future research and business practice pertaining to the specific phenomena under investigation. This is followed by an integrative and summative review of key substantive, theoretical, and practical implications. Taken together, this body of work offers contributions to the development and continued relevance of RBT and UET as interrelated frameworks for researchers, directors, and managers understanding and acting within a novel era of uncertainty.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: resource-based theory; upper echelons theory; strategic leadership; corporate governance; firm capabilities; firm performance; boards of directors; board interlocks; board diversity; political ideology
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 5 August 2022
Last Modified: 05 Aug 2022 09:25

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