Analysis of Information Resource Methodology for Strategic Management

An Individual review of the empirical research and literature affecting information inquiry in contemporary strategic management strategiesepistemology

The pervasive requirements for information in the strategic management strategiesof contemporary business range from enormous needs for data to answer questions about competitors [1] through information technology to support the strategic business plan of the enterprise [2] .
 Strategic decisions by top management strategiesteams, operating in complex and dynamic environments, are increasingly supported by information systems designed to assist in the assimilation of the data [3] . The thinking and reasoning process by which strategic management strategiesdecisions are formulated have basis in the epistemology of dialectical structures. Basis for the empirical research of dialectical inquiring systems stems from the five philosophers cited by Churchman [4]  in the delineation of the associated formal structures.
The first formal structure is the Leibnizian inquiry system which excludes external considerations and data to facilitate the generation of fact nets and imaginative scenario with formal models from a reservoir of perceptions contained within the inquiry system. There is no overt discrimination of obviously irrelevant or false data so precise specification, internal consistency and completeness are
requirements for information in the reservoir to aid the pragmatic usefulness of the results of inquiry. This system is suited to deal with well-structured problems in which the reservoir models are formulated with the analytic structure to generate the solution. Heuristic search techniques, including algorithms -- along with the direct application of mathematical formulae, are examples of Leibnizian inquiry.

Lockean inquiry is the second formal structure. This strategic method does not rely on a perception reservoir but processes received information in a community of inquiry to generate consensus of expedient agreement from direct observations and experience among the community. This system is suited to middle-of-the-road and consensus solutions which are not rigorously generated and may be the result of intelligent and theoretical basis that were rejected. Statistical analysis with frequency distributions and functional relationships construed among surrogate variables is an example of this system of inquiry. An additional example is the operation of a bureaucratic system.

A third system of inquiry is the Kantian, with emphasis on a need to acquire as many and varied views of the problem or subject inquiry, as possible. A formulation from the Leibnizian model is verified through Lockean empirical validation of evidence in this interlocking methodology where theory is inseparable from the data. Technological forecasting and processes for long-term planning are examples of the inherently ill-structured problems that are suitable for this system in which the results, also, are not clearly constructed. Broad data-base decision support systems are additional examples.

The fourth dialectical inquiring system is the Hegelian, which is the specific subject of much contemporary empirical research. A world view is assembled by loading the system with a broad sweep of information. This dialectic purposely creates conflict through disagreement in the direct confrontation of the thesis and opposing antithesis -- where both are constructed from the world view -- to produce a resultant synthesis solution. This system is suited to problems with varying assumptions, value systems and cognitive styles. Practical implementations include the political strategies and legal processes along with strategic management strategiesplanning uses reported in the empirical research by Schweiger, et al  [5].

Churchman provides an illustration of the application of these four inquiring systems in assisting an inquiring citizen to cope within bounds of rationality in comprehending the strategic implications of information provided by news media:
In the Leibnizian inquirer, the display consists of a stream of sentences (or charts) some of which may be true, others false, others irrelevant. The citizens problem is to put together several consistent stories and then, as the data flow increases, to converge on one story that seems to hold together in the best manner. The Lockean inquirer displays the "fundamental" data that all experts agree are accurate and relevant, and then builds a consistent story out of these. The Kantian inquirer displays the same story from different points of view, emphasizing thereby that what is put into the story by the internal mode of representation is not given from the outside. But the Hegelian inquirer, using the same data, tells two stories, one supporting the most prominent policy on one side, the other supporting the most prominent policy on the other side. [6]
 The fifth system is Singerian inquiry in which the consensus of a Lockean community that data meets defined standards results in requiring the partitioning or refinement of inquiry to obtain disagreement at the limits of the standards. This dialectic is the basis for measurement science and does not produce single valued answers. This system is suited to research and problems of measurement where the ANOVA is an example of the methodology.

Some strategic management strategiesdecisions are formulated from inquiry processes that are not based on these dialectics. Mastering the relative importance of environmental cues and familiarization with tasks and the environment enable an expert to identify the key variables and critical success factors which would confound a novice or naive inquirer. Expert recommendations are based on key assumptions in the world view of the inquirer. Reliance upon expert consultation is suited to questions where recognized expertise is known to exist. The Delphi panel is a strategic method suited to forecasting and prediction of complex questions. An iterative procedure using anonymity, controlled feedback, and statistical group response analysis, produces group consensus or opinion convergence from a panel of experts. The Devil's Advocate strategic method is a conflict oriented technique that is suited to uncertainty and ill-structured problems. This inquiry strategic method requires presentation of the thesis or generated plan along with a critical analysis or critique; however, no specific alternatives are proposed or presented.

A final technique that is not recommended, however wide spread in use, is the strategic method of intuition or muddling through. Lindblom [7] argues that an incremental strategic method of successive limited comparisons that build branches from the status quo in the pragmatic inquiry by muddling through is widely used -- however ignored in the literature; whereas, rational-comprehensive methods of academia which perpetually rebuild from fundamental data are dysfunctional! This unstructured technique appears to depend upon serendipity and ad hoc inquiry to gather and analyze information in decision making and problem solving for the informal and adaptive style of an individual entrepreneur (or politician?).

Contemporary empirical research literature provides a reservoir of published material that provides recommendations and guidance in the use of information resources and inquiry formulation for strategic management strategiesdecisions. This literature does not strictly adhere to the taxonomy of the structured dialectic; instead, the published research is oriented in investigations of the significant attributes of the strategic management strategiesinformation resource, individual characteristics of inquiry personnel, and task characteristics.

O'Reilly [8] reports that the significant information resource attribute is the statistical dominance of accessibility of information resource over perceived quality. The tuple of quality attributes, such as reliability or trustworthiness, and timeliness, was not found to correlate in a significant manner with decision makers' use of information resources. While this research focused upon investigation of effects on personnel employed in a single task, the effective external implication is that strategic organization incentives and social sanctions may have unintended implicit effects on decision makers quest for information. Irrelevant signals and communication overload are reported by Leblebici, et al [9], to correlate significantly with decision makers seeking more information than is required. Additional research by O'Reilly [10] indicates that perceived information overload is positively correlated with increased feelings of satisfaction; however, there is a negative correlation with the objectively evaluated performance of the decision maker. The combined implication of these findings is that access to information should be carefully rationed on a need-to-know basis for improved performance of strategic decision makers; however, the research has failed to provide an operational definition of optimal information load or criteria to determine the threshold for information overload!

Research by Schweiger, et al [11] , demonstrates that the order of presentation of recommendations by experts in Hegelian inquiry and Devil's Advocacy results in statistically significant effects on decision makers' judgments. These conflict oriented methods were evaluated using naive subjects where no interaction was permitted with the experts. These subjects did not know how to deal with the conflicting recommendations and the statistical tests indicate the first expert recommendation proposed was followed. However, strategic decision makers are more actively involved in the inquiry process with the result that interactive debate would tend to have mitigating effects on the primacy or recency influence of the order of presentation of expert recommendations.

 While the O'Reilly [12] research reports that individual characteristics of strategic management strategiespersonnel -- such as job tenure, education level, and motivation -- are not significantly correlated with use of information resources (due to the dominant effect of accessibility), other research report significant individual attribute effects. The span of influence of decision makers in administrative bureaucracies is reported by Aiken, et al [13], to correlate significantly with decision makers' use of organizational information sources. A study of lower and middle echelon officials indicates that middle echelon personnel use internal organization information sources, whereas lower echelon personnel use information sources outside the organization. This research correlated a high degree of boundary spanning with the lower echelon officials as the significant activity to enable them to cope with environmental uncertainties and enhance their power base. Research by Dollinger [14], investigating the boundary spanning activity of owner/operator entrepreneurs, reports information processing capability is an important individual characteristic for intensive boundary spanning and strategic planning for tactical action by these entrepreneurs. A similar study, by Hambrick [15], of top management strategiesteams in private general hospitals, life insurance firms, and private four-year colleges, reports significant correlation of information processing capability with the bolstering of power for officials in positions where functional boundary spanning activity exists. Agreement in research replication is thus reported for bolstering of functional power to correlate positively for executives who transcend functional boundaries to acquire information. This effect is significantly related to the extent that the boundary spanning activity exceeds that of peers in the organization. This contemporary research shows that individual characteristics that enhance the information processing and inquiry capability of strategic management strategiespersonnel correlate positively with the power and influence of the individuals. A beneficial strategy for the ambitious executive, therefore, is tactical enhancement of personal skills in acquiring and processing information!

 Finally, although the O'Reilly [16] research reports that task characteristics -- such as perceived complexity, or uncertainty - are overshadowed by the dominant effect of information accessibility; other research report significant task attribute effects. Strategic decision makers in large firms are shown by Lindsay, et al [17], to search for information form a wider variety of sources. This empirical research correlates the extensiveness of the information inquiry in long range planning to the degree of environmental complexity and instability for the large firms. A report by Preble [18], of empirical research on use of Delphi panel in the insurance industry shows that no significant differences result from intracompany panel composition when Delphi is used to develop environmental forecast scenarios for long term planning. Proprietary forecasts for large firms in uncertain environments may effectively use expert intracompany personnel to safeguard the confidentiality of information resources and inquiry results. Empirical research, by Smart, et al [19], that studied corporate response to crises, found that management strategiesstrategy in volatile environments uses information gathering as a significant coping activity to aid in buffering and accommodating existing organizational structure to the crises. However, this research reports that insufficient effort to diagnose the causes of the crises results from underinvestment in information gathering activities where political strategies or personal needs of management strategiesare served by the information gathering -- rather than functional purposes.

A study, by Cosier, et al [20], comparing Hegelian dialectic and Devil's Advocate reports that strategic decision makers perceive the environment to be highly uncertain when the conflicting recommendations and analyses of the thesis vs. antithesis dialectic was presented. This research found a significant difference of unwarranted conservatism in the failure to undertake sufficient risk in the strategic decisions that resulted from Hegelian dialectic in comparison to the superior decisions of the Devil's Advocate technique! The body of research reviewed underscores the significance of the task characteristics in the techniques used for inquiry of information to support strategic decision makers. Contemporary business organizations are not structured in Lockean communities or comprised of experts that are capable of transcending the bounds of rationality to effectively construct the required synthesis from the controversy of Hegelian dialectic -- or Singerian. Strategic decision makers are significantly affected in use of information by the attributes of significant variables of the information resources, individual characteristics and task characteristics reviewed in the literature.

Although Leontiades, et al [21], fails to find a significant correlation between strategic planning ratings and objective results of economic strategies performance, other research by Armstrong [22] reporting a survey of published empirical research finds significant correlation of superior corporate performance when environmental changes were large. Bourgeois [23] shows that performance correlates with strategic decision makers' use of information inquiry resources to agree on means of achievement of goals rather than the lesser important agreement on goals. The study, by Mansour, et al [24], of computer based information systems resulted in identification of the significant correlation of organization structure as the best predictor of performance -- with hardware and software serving as facilitator to serve the information inquiry needs of the decision makers in the structure of the organization. 
The reviewed contemporary research provides guidance to strategic decision makers in the implementations of systems for information inquiry by highlighting the empirically determined behavioral considerations in the attributes of information resources, characteristics of individual decision makers and decision tasks. An acquaintance with the dialectics of philosophy is useful -- but practical implementation of information resource inquiry for strategic management strategiesdecisions in the era of computers and automated decision support systems must provide ergonomic adaptations to the cognitive style, bounds of rationality and world view image of each individual decision maker.
  1. Lindsay, William M., and Rue, Leslie W., "Impact of the Organization Environment on the Long-Range Planning Process: A Contingency View", Academy of Management strategiesJournal, Vol. 23, No. 3, 1980, pp. 385-404.
  2. Preble, John F., "The Selection of Delphi Panels for Strategic Planning Purposes", Strategic Management strategiesJournal, Vol. 5, No. 2, 1984, pp. 157-170.
  3. Rucks, Dr. Andrew C., and Ginter, Peter M., "Strategic MIS: Promises Unfulfilled", Journal of Systems Management, Vol. 33, No. 3, Issue 251, March 1982, pp. 16-19.
  4. Van Gigch, John P., "Applied General Systems Theory", Harper & Row, N.Y., 1978, pp. 464-467.
  5. Schweiger, David M., and Finger, Phyllis A., "The Comparative Effectiveness of Dialectical Inquiry and Devil's Advocacy: The Impact of Task Biases on Previous Research Findings", Strategic Management strategiesJournal, Vol. 5, No. 4, 1984, pp. 335-350.
  6. Churchman, C. W., "The Design of Inquiring Systems", Basic Books, N.Y., 1971, pp. 176-177.
  7. Lindblom. Charles E., "The Science of 'Muddling Through'", Public Administration Review, Vol. 19, No. 2, Spring 1959, pp. 79-88.
  8. O'Reilly, Charles A. III, "Variations in Decision Makers' Use of Information Sources: The Impact of Quality and Accessibility of Information", Academy of Management strategiesJournal, Vol. 23, No. 4, 1982, pp. 756-771.
  9. Leblebici, Huseyin, and Salancik, Gerald R., "Effects of Uncertainty on Information and Decision Processes in Banks", Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 26, No 4, 1981, pp. 578-596.
  10. O'Reilly, Charles A. III, "Individuals and Information Overload in Organizations: Is More Necessarily Better?", Academy of Management strategiesJournal, Vol. 23, No. 4, 1980, pp.684-696.
  11. Schweiger, David M., and Finger, Phyllis A., op. cit.
  12. O'Reilly, Charles A. III, "Variations ...", op. cit.
  13. Aiken, Michael; Samuel, B. Bachrach, and French, J. Lawrence, "Organizational Structure, Work Process, and Proposal Making in Administrative Bureaucracies", Academy of Management strategiesJournal, Vol. 23, No. 4, 1980, pp. 631-652.
  14. Dollinger, Marc J., "Environmental Boundary Spanning and Information Processing Effects on Organizational Performance", Academy of Management strategiesJournal, Vol. 27, No. 2, 1984, pp. 351-368.
  15. Hambrick, Donald C., "Environment, Strategy, and Power within Top Management strategiesTeams", Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 26, No. 2, 1981, pp. 253-276.
  16. O'Reilly, Charles A. III, "Variations ...", op.cit.
  17. Lindsay, William M., and Rue, Leslie W., "Impact of the Organization Environment on the Long-Range Planning Process: A Contingency View", Academy of Management strategiesJournal, Vol. 23, No. 3, 1980, pp. 385-404.
  18. Preble, John F., "The Selection of Delphi Panels for Strategic Planning Purposes", Strategic Management strategiesJournal, Vol. 5, No. 2, 1984, pp. 157-170.
  19. Smart, Carolyne, and Vertinsky, Ilan, "Strategy and the Environment: A Study of Corporate Responses to Crises", Strategic Management strategiesJournal, Vol. 5, No. 2, 1984, pp. 199-213.
  20. Cosier, Richard A., and Aplin, John C., "A Critical View of Dialectical Inquiry as a Tool in Strategic Planning", Strategic Management strategiesJournal, Vol. 1, No. 4, 1980, pp. 343-356.
  21. Leontiades, Milton, and Tezel, Ahmet, "Planning Perceptions and Planning Results", Strategic Management strategiesJournal, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1980, pp. 65-75.
  22. Armstrong, J. Scott, "The Value of Formal Planning for Strategic Decisions: Review of Empirical Research", Strategic Management strategiesJournal, Vol. 3, No. 3, 1982, pp. 197-211.
  23. Bourge4ois, L. J., "Performance and Consensus", Strategic Management strategiesJournal, Vol. 1, No. 3, 1980, pp. 227-248.
  24. Mansour, Ali H., and Watson, Hugh J., "The Determinants of Computer Based Information System Performance", Academy of Management strategiesJournal, Vol. 23, No. 3, 1980, pp. 521-533.
Analysis of Information Resource Methodology for Strategic Management
Analysis of Information Resource Methodology for Strategic Management

Top Strategy Topics to Understand Geo-Strategy News, International Security Events, Global Politics Analysis, Global Trends and Forecasting, Economic Development and Reconstruction, Energy and Climate Change, Global Health and Human Rights. Tags: News, strategy, topics, security, geopolitical, strategies, economies, war, military, armed, economic development, international relations, history, geography, environment, NGO, alliances, European Union, flags, USA, United State of America, international relations, history, geography, environment, NGO, alliances, European Union, flags, USA, United State of America