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School of Business | Department of Marketing | Strategic Retail Management | 2014
Thesis number: 13836
Autonomous strategizing amidst regulatory change - When knowing your ground rules won't suffice
Author: Tolvas, Leea
Title: Autonomous strategizing amidst regulatory change - When knowing your ground rules won't suffice
Year: 2014  Language: eng
Department: Department of Marketing
Academic subject: Strategic Retail Management
Index terms: markkinointi; marketing; kauppa; commerce; johtaminen; management; strategia; strategy; suunnittelu; planning; prosessit; processes; organisaatio; organization; vähittäiskauppa; retail trade; päivittäistavarat; consumer goods
Pages: 71
Key terms: strategy formation, process theory, strategy process, turbulent environment, retail regulation, retail development, Finnish grocery retail, decentralized organizational structure
Within strategic management research, the process theory school of thought concentrates on the strategy formation process, instead of strategy content. Originating from Mintzberg's (1978) division between intended and emergent strategy, followed by Burgelman's (1983) further interpretation of induced and autonomous strategizing, it has since been widely acknowledged that an organization's realized strategy also includes strategic actions outside the planned and implemented corporate strategy.

How does this strategy formation take place in a changing regulatory environment? This study presents longitudinal process data of semi-structured interviews and archival analysis as a single-case study of a successful Finnish retailer. This study aims to provide a description of the case organization within its unique setting, and to also identify the market incumbent's patterns of actions as either autonomous or induced strategizing behavior.

A secondary research question is presented: what type of interaction do these strategies represent with the organization's environment? The identified sequences of autonomous and induced strategizing of the case organization are thus further classified according to Burgelman and Grove's (2007) four-part framework for strategic dynamics.

It can be conclude that within the unique context of the case study, the market incumbent has achieved a stronger position within Finnish retail trade, amidst regulatory changes. This has been supported by the case organization's repetitive actions: First of all, its induced strategizing (represented by acts such as decentralization, and continuous chain concept development) are based on an accumulated knowledge about the market and regulation, i.e. an understanding of "one's ground rules", and acting within these regulatory constraints. Secondly, especially beneficial have been the case organization's autonomous strategizing (vertical mergers including acquisition of Spar and branching into gasoline sales with the ABC chain as well as ecommerce; horizontal integration into the real estate business) which have allowed changing retail trade by "bending its rules", i.e. identifying non-regulated activities to pursue. As implications to further research and practitioners, this study suggests that autonomous strategizing should be carried out if aiming for rule-changing behavior and ultimately having an effect on one's market and non-market environment.
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