Sample Research Proposal on Strategic Decision-Making Processes

The Relationship between Strategic Decision-Making Processes and Corporate Culture

Research Topic

In the rapidly dynamic and competitive world of corporate, business as well as organizational activities, the most commonly sought concept is the aspect of competitive advantage and strategic positioning. As such, organizations and industries have strived to gain such by employing a variety of techniques, strategies, and tactics. Whether the endeavor is deeply embedded in the history and the regular way of doing things and performing tasks or it is a haphazard process, it has to involve a process of decision-making, which in turn may influence the culture or the regular ways of doing things as well as the way forward for the organization and the industry. On the other hand, organizations that have been in the limelight for a long period of time exhibit a regular or common way of doing business, performing tasks, conducting transactions, and ensuring quality of processes, among other activities that come about as ways of accomplishing day to day goals and missions of the organization. The focus in this case is therefore the key link that exists between the organizational decision-making strategies and the culture. Most studies have come out with the idea that both these aspects are closely tied to the organizational leadership and strategic management.

Research Question

As such, culture is defined as the identifiable structure or way of doing things in a company or industry that goes hand in hand with the goals and missions of the organization since the time of the inception to the time of peak achievement. Notably, the ability for decision-making frameworks, harmony, and synchrony in the working of organizational structure will depend on a variety of aspects, such as leadership and management, cultural affiliation and structure, relationship between the employees and employers, subordinates and managers, the focus of the organization in terms of external or internal oriented strategy and more importantly, whether there exists a flexible structure or a controlled way of doing things (Heracleous & Langham, 1996).

For this reason, it is worthy of noting that the culture and the decision-making strategies in the corporate arena are aspects that not only intertwine and correlate, but also are codependent on each other. In other words, there would be very little or organizational harmonies in the working environment without the concept of elaborate decision-making strategies (Heracleous & Langham, 1996). Conversely, the vast influence that the corporate culture puts upon the day-to-day decision making processes in the bid to attain benevolent corporate decision-making would not bring about the positive effects on the activities of the organization, were it not for the frameworks put in place by the culture and regular policies for a fingerprint of the organizational corporate processes as well as internal and external relations. This study, therefore, seeks to dwell on the core issue involved in the process of ensuring a corporate culture that is inclined towards development of the organization (Samsung, 2009). It is the aspect of communications. Thus, to answer the question of the influence of strategic management on the decision-making process and the corporate culture, among other disciplines and fields taken into account, strategic management peaks out as the main area of focus (Samsung, 2009).

This is because, by default and definition, as compared to the workforce, which is the engine of the organization, management is both symbolically and literally the driver of the corporate body. Organizations and their workforce are composed of a number of people from varying cultures and background. Furthermore, the organization’s founders and leadership subdivide them into departments and sections that, at the end of the day, must work in untarnished harmony to come about with the desired success of the organization as envisioned. To ensure that this happens, the management of the organization has to come out as strongly as mandated in order to not only ensure harmony and synchrony in the working process but also develop foolproof and watertight decision-making processes (Westbrook, 1993).

Research Contribution

With the knowledge that strategic leadership and management play a vital role in the two parameters of our study, this study envisions the future of the corporate world as an entity that needs to be looked at objectively in a bid to ensure strategic positioning as well as competitive edge and positioning. Therefore, it is the aim of this research to contribute to the debate, from a practical study on the ground, on how the management decision-making process and the emergent culture can be molded in such a way that it brings out the best outcomes in terms of implementations of the internal and external strategies of the organization that go ahead to align themselves with the goals and visions of the organization. Thus, for an extensive look at the aspects that are taken into consideration during decision-making processes go a long way to create a well-designed way of organizational structure and activities. These aspects are inclusive of various fields that play a role in the development of the organization. Technology and innovation come out as the most common feature in the modern set up of organizational positioning and success (Samsung, 2009).

This is because the corporate world is notably becoming more competitive and technology oriented. With the increasing sophistication and emergence of new ways of conducting business in both physical and virtual context, many strategies have been proposed as ways of ensuring that this aspect is embedded in the culture of the organization. For this reason, various types of organizational cultures and structures considered in this study tend to exhibit different outcomes when technological and innovative advancements are taken into consideration. An organization with the aim of attaining a competitive edge as a way of accomplishing set out plans and goals should have a versatile structure that seeks to adapt to the emerging beneficial trends in innovation. This is inclusive of the management’s ability to fund the innovation process as well as encourage a culture of creativity and expression (Samsung, 2009).

Having considered communication channels in the corporate organization, it is possible to know the flow of information from one point to another. This means having an objective look at the ability of the organization’s workforce to communicate both vertically and horizontally. Vertical communication implies that information flows based on the hierarchical structures of the organization. Thus, it helps the managers and leaders to channel their information projected to the people as well as receive information brought by the subordinates. Horizontal communication, on the other hand, refers to the way people of the same level in terms of working position communicate with each other. The view of this study is therefore two-pronged in that it considers the ability of the way communication affects the organizational decision making processes as well as how the culture and the decision- making processes in the organization affect the communication aspect of the organization. Other factors that this study covers in its scope is the flexibility of the organization structure, external and internal orientation of focus, the role of management in ensuring a culture of quality, and the outcomes of a good corporate culture as related to the aspect of decision-making processes. It is therefore the vision of this study to positively impact on the strategic management discipline in order to create a framework of good decision-making strategies in relation to the creation of a positively impacting corporate culture (Sheridan, 1992).

Literature Review

For an organization to attain a well-structured world- class standard in the way in which policies and goals are implemented, many scholars have proposed that quality is key in the process. Quality, in this case, means everything in the organization is of a standard that is not only acceptable to the wider structure of the market, but also of good repute in terms of strategic positioning. It is as a result of this that many modern day managers are embracing the total quality management as the way forward for the pushing forward of quality-focused strategies. This implies that the decision-making strategies in such organizations will factor in the aspect of quality processes, methods, assets, as well as products. This has further translated to the enhancement of a culture of production of quality outcomes and as latest strategic management studies would have it, it has translated into development in the organizations involved.

The organizational culture also seeks to improve quality by the continuous appraisal of the human resource in terms of skills and training as well as equipment and technological input of innovation. In fact, a test of the maturity of a quality strategy implementation is known to be embedded in the strategic management of the organization with aims to emphasize on quality. In addition, a good analysis of the performance of such organizations in the Baldrige criteria comes out as more inclined to positive effects as compared to the other strategies of decision-making frameworks (Westbrooks, 1993).

The culture of the organization determines the what, how, where, when, and whose questions that come about on every day development of structures and performance of tasks. As such, it is the kind of the direction giver in terms of what should be done; it should be performed to effectively bring about the intended result (Anderson, 1997). Strategic management has a hand in this process and for this reason; there are two categories of comparison that seek to bring to light the differences. Flexible systems in organizational culture tend to encourage innovation, communication, and effectiveness in the workplace as compared to controlled processes. Thus, group and adhocracy culture have come out strongly as the enhancers of workplace trust, positive attitude, and equality as compared to the more controlled structure of culture (Juran, 1994).

On the other hand, the  internal oriented focus of strategic management and decision making put more stress on the efficiency in the internal and technical matters, quality control, and safeguard of the of available markets. Conversely, external approaches in organizations place emphasis on the entrepreneurship aspect of business and are constantly in search of newer markets. Overall, a culture of continuous improvement and embracing of sustainable development as well as corporate social responsibility goes a long way to catapult a corporate body from one level to another (Quinn & Spreitzer, 1991).

Research Hypotheses

Corporate culture has a strong impact on strategic decision-making processes, which emerge from its nature and its content. As defined earlier, corporate culture may refer to a system of assumptions, values, norms, and attitudes, manifested through symbols which the members of the corporate or industry have developed and adopted through mutual experience and which help them determine the meaning of the world around them and how to behave in it (Interdisciplinary European conference on entrepreneurship research, Dowling & Schmude, 2007). The proposed research will outline the key features of the research framework that will be used to guide the design and collection of relevant research data. One of the hypotheses that will be used for the research is that both corporate culture and strategic decision making are interdependent. For instance, corporate culture impacts the selection of adequate strategic decision making processes in the same way it impacts all other aspects of management in corporations. Cultural assumptions and values shared by the members of a corporation determine the way in which employees and managers will understand the corporation itself, and thereby the adequate way to change it. The cultural assumptions also influence how the employees and managers make decisions in corporations (Poister, National Research Council (É.-U.)., National Cooperative Highway Research Program., & American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, 2004). What will be determined as a suitable, efficient, or useful way of making decisions in a corporation will depend significantly on the shared assumptions and values of employees and managers built in their interpretative schemes. Whether the decision making processes of a corporation are radical or comprehensive,  directed from the top down or from the bottom up, they will all to a great extent depend on how leaders and other members of the corporation see its functioning and a suitable, useful, or effective way of making decisions.

The other possible hypothesis of the research is whether there will be a positive relationship between capital and performance of the corporation. Once strategic decisions are made concerning all the activities and operations in a firm, then the culture of that particular firm will be streamlined. A wider range of both resources and resource-based capabilities are assumed to contribute to the higher performance and effective decision making in a corporate environments (Musu, 2000). The type of resource available in corporations will also influence the type of strategic decision making processes that corporations employ to gain advantage. Some resources of corporations can be exploited primarily through cost advantage and thus are more likely to be employed within a competitive aggressive approach. Other corporate cultures might lack the unique and valuable resources needed for low-cost leadership, but have developed elements of valuable structural capital, such as structures and decision-making processes that enable them to create new resources more quickly and cheaply than their rivals. A wider range of resource capabilities in corporate cultures also enhances the decision-making processes in corporations, as they should select their decision-making processes based upon resource capabilities. Empirical studies show the existence of a relationship between corporate cultures and their resources and the decision making processes. This is inclusive of availability of financial and social capital and corporate individual networks (Fayolle, 2005).

Moreover, a hypothesis of the research will be to establish or describe the impact of corporate culture on strategic decision-making processes as general in character and whether the impact should call for operationalization, which would consist of generating and testing certain types of corporate cultures and certain corporation decision-making strategies.

Research Methodology

This research proposal will also outline the key elements of the proposed research strategy. To begin with, in order to determine the relationship between strategic decision-making processes and corporate culture in corporations, one research methodology that can be employed in a corporation is the observation method. This is a method where the investigator or researcher will collect data through personal observations (Kotzab & Westhaus, 2005). For instance, when the researcher decides to use direct observation, he or she will have to speak to the employees at different levels of the corporation, observe the behavior of the employees to assess the relationship between the strategic decision making process and the corporate culture. Besides, the investigator could also decide to observe the state of machines in a corporation through random sampling. The state of machines in a corporation may either be in a working state or idle state. At the end of the research, based on the direct observations of the researcher, he or she will be able to determine how the decision making strategies of using the corporation’s machines is influenced by the corporate culture. Generally, if this method will be used, it will deal with the recording of the behavior of respondents or sampling units. In this method, the investigator will observe the behavior of the respondents in corporate environments in disguise. The identity of the investigator should not be revealed to the customers. If it is known, the customers or respondents may change their behavior, hence affecting the quality of research. This method helps capture the behavior of respondents directly. However, it is a time consuming and costly exercise. In addition, it suffers from personnel biases of investigators, which will distort the findings of the researcher (Subotnik, 1995).

The other possible way of research methodology that could be used in the research is personal interview. This is a survey method of data collection, which uses a questionnaire. The components of the personal interview are the researcher, the interviewer, interviewee, and the interview environment. Under the guidance of the researcher, several interviewers will be sent with questionnaires to meet the respondents of the survey for seeking responses to the question of the existing relationship between the strategic decision making processes and corporate culture. The personal interview that the researcher would use may be classified into door-to-door interview, executive interview, malls intercept surveys, self-administered questionnaires, and purchases intercept technique. If door-to-door interviewing is used, the researcher will go to the corporations and obtain responses for the items in the questionnaire by direct interviewing with the respondents for the relationship between strategic decision making processes and corporate culture.

The other possible method that the researcher would use during the study is a case study. A case study can be described as an explanatory or descriptive analysis of events or people or activities in a place (Woodside, 2010). For instance, in this case, the case study would be used to analyze the relationship between the strategic decision-making and corporate culture in the corporations that would be investigated. Case study as a research method may be prospective or retrospective (Yin, 2009).

Research Plan and Timeline

This part of the research proposal outlines the major activities and milestones envisaged throughout the research journey in the corporate environment. For this research proposal, it is proposed that the investigation should focus on the relationship between strategic decision making processes and corporate culture in corporations. Below is the plan and timeline of the proposed research.

 

Month Project Goal Related Objective Activity Expected Completion Date Person Responsible
1 Enhance understanding of corporate culture among  people Assess corporation’s needs. Retain subjects for the research Ongoing Associate Director
1 Conduct follow-up interviews Conduct follow-up interviews Ongoing Associate Director
Submit papers on the existing relationship between strategic decision making processes and corporate culture Prepare one paper on the relationship between strategic decision making processes and corporate culture Month 5 Project Director
4 Prepare a second paper on corporate culture Month 12 Project Director
1 Enhance understanding of the extent to which corporations make their decisions and handle the behavior of their employees Assess  when the members of the corporations make decisions and whether this is influenced by their culture in the corporations Prepare paper with findings of how the corporate culture impacts decision-making processes. Month 5 Project Director
1 Examine perceived barriers to strategic decision making processes in corporate environments Prepare paper on barriers to decision making processes in corporate environments Month 3 Project Director

 

References

Anderson, E.A. and Adams D. (1997). Evaluating the success of TQM implementation: Lessons from employees. Production and Inventory Management Journal 38 (4), 1-6.

Fayolle, A. (2005). Entrepreneurship research in Europe: Outcomes and perspectives. Cheltenham [u.a.: Elgar.

Heracleous, L., & Langham, B. (1996).Strategic change and organizational culture at Haymanagement consultants. Long Range Planning, 29 (04), 485-494. Retrieved fromhttp://www.heracleous.org/uploads/1/1/2/9/11299865/lrp_-_change__culture.pdf

Interdisciplinary European conference on entrepreneurship research, Dowling, M., & Schmude, J. (2007). Empirical entrepreneurship in Europe: New perspectives. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Juran, J.M. (1994). The upcoming century of quality. Quality Progress 27 (8), 29-37.

Kotzab, H., & Westhaus, M. (2005). Research methodologies in supply chain management. Heidelberg: Physica-Verlag.

Musu, I. (2000). Sustainable Venice: Suggestions for the future. Boston, MA: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Poister, T. H., National Research Council (É.-U.)., National Cooperative Highway Research Program., & American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. (2004). Strategic planning and decision making in state departments of transportation. Washington, D.C: Transportation Research Board.

Quinn, R.E. and G.M. Spreitzer. (1991). The psychometrics of the Competing Values Culture Instrument and an analysis of the impact of organizational culture on quality of life. Research in Organizational Change and Development. 5:115-142.

Samsung. (2009). Building a creative corporate culture. Retrieved from: http://www.samsung.com/us/aboutsamsung/sustainability/integritymanagement/download/building_a_creative_corporate_culture.pdf

Sheridan, J.E. 1992. Organizational culture and employee retention. Academy of Management Journal 35 (5):1036-1056.

Subotnik, R. F. (1995). Beyond Terman: Contemporary longitudinal studies of giftedness and talent. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing.

Westbrook, J.K. (1993). Organizational culture and its relationship to TQM. Industrial Management 35 (1), 1-3.

Woodside, A. G. (2010). Case study research: Theory, methods, practice. Bingley: Emerald.

Yin, R. K. (2009). Case study research: Design and methods. Los Angeles, Calif: Sage Publications.