Advanced search
1 file | 707.33 KB Add to list

Strategy implementation effectiveness within the public sector: an empirical and experimental analysis of the role of strategic consensus and its antecedents

Kenn Meyfroodt (UGent) and Sebastian Desmidt (UGent)
Author
Organization
Abstract
Since the 1970s New Public Management (NPM) became the dominant paradigm within the public sector. Pivotal within this movement is the adoption of putative market and private sector practices by public organizations with the aim of improving their effectiveness (Goldfinch et al., 2010). One of the practices at the core of this movement is strategic planning (SP) (Ugboro et al., 2011). Bryson (2010, S256), defines SP as ‘a deliberative, disciplined effort to produce fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization is, what it does, and why it does it’. However, despite the widespread recognition that a methodical, stepwise approach to strategy development is beneficial to public organizations (Poister et al., 2013) and the fact that SP has become nearly ubiquitous among governments and public organizations at all levels (Bovaird, 2008), the relevance of SP for public organizations is still the subject of debate (Ugboro, et al., 2011). Moreover, a recent literature study acknowledged the lack of conclusive evidence on the effectiveness of SP within public organizations (George et al., 2014). Bryson et al. (2009), however, argue that these inconclusive findings root in the methodologies used. More specifically, research on the effectiveness of SP has focused on analyzing the relationship between SP processes and performance-related outcomes at the organizational level (e.g. Poister, et al., 2010). As such, these studies interpreted SP as a fixed routine leading to a specific outcome while in reality it is a difficult process that involves complex assemblies of (non)human actors held together by multiple, changeable principles (Bryson, et al., 2010). Consequently, future research should focus more on the ‘practice of strategy’; who does it, what they do, how they do it, and what implications this has for shaping the strategy (Bryson, 2010). Shifting research attention towards these SP micro-activities (i.e. practitioners, practices and praxis) and their relationship with proximate and distal planning outcomes (Wolf, et al.,2013), will shed light on the effectiveness of SP in public organizations by providing insights into the relationships underlying the presumed impact of SP on performance. Because Bryson, et al. (2010) indicated that the essence of SP is the development of fundamental decisions about the pivotal goals of the organization that guide an organization’s strategies and actions, shared strategic understanding or strategic consensus (SC) is viewed as an important proximate outcome which mediates the relationship between SP and performance (i.e. distal outcome) (Walter et al., 2013). In essence, SC centers on ‘the extent to which intra-organizational perceptions converge on shared understandings of strategic priorities’ and is deemed a prerequisite for successful strategy implementation (Rapert et al., 2002, 301) because it minimizes the detrimental effects of the pursuit of subunit or divergent goals (Tarakci et al., 2014). The proposition underlying this research stream is that ‘a higher degree of SC is associated with improved coordination/cooperation in the implementation of strategy, and hence, with organizational performance’ (Kellermans, et al., 2011, 719). However, despite the argumentation that a better understanding of the link between SC and performance is a critical objective ‘in the area of strategy process and implementation, and crucial for the progress of strategic management theory’, empirical results on the subject are ambiguous (Kellermans, et al., 2011, 126) while research accounting for the processes of how SC was reached (i.e. antecedents of planning outcomes: practitioners, practices and praxis) is mostly lacking (Walter, et al., 2013). Given the cited literature gap, the PhD-proposal would like to address the call for more practice oriented SP research and focus on the role of SC within the SP-performance relationship in a public context. More specifically, we will: 1. Provide insights by aggregating and categorizing the available empirical information on the relationship between SC and performance. Hence, we aim to counterbalance the equivocality surrounding the cited relationship by developing an inventory of the available empirical evidence and analyzing if differences in applied research designs (e.g. operationalization of SC and/or performance, measurement methods, and/or research setting) account for the reported variances in the impact of SC. 2. Empirically address the knowledge gap on the relation between SC and performance in public organizations, and the antecedents of SC using data collected from Flemish municipal councilors. 3. Use data from Flemish municipal councilors to assess the extent to which organizational decisions (i.e. strategic priorities encompassed in a strategic plan) act as a framework that guides individual decision-making processes and if higher SC levels impact this relationship given the presumed influence of SC on strategically aligned decision-making. Strongpoints of the proposed research focus/methodology are: - We address the call for a deeper reservoir of knowledge on public SP’s effectiveness by investigating the relations between the micro-activities of SP in public organizations and both proximate and distal planning outcomes (Bryson et al., 2010). - The research setting comprises politicians, an often neglected group of decision-makers in public management research (Nielsen, et al., 2015). - It has been argued that public management research relies too much on non-randomized, cross-sectional surveys. To counterbalance this critique the research proposal will use different information sources for IV and DV to avoid common method bias-issues. - It has been argued that experimental methods are underused in public management research (Blom-Hansen et al., 2015) which hampers the kind of observation necessary to clearly identify relationships with decision-making (Margetts, 2011). The research proposal will conduct a randomized survey experiment. - An often-cited criticism of survey experiments is the lack of a realistic context and representative sample (Aguinis and Bradley 2014). The research proposal will avoid these pitfalls by surveying all Flemish municipal councilors as well as using actual information as treatment (derived from document analysis of the municipal strategic plans). At the PhD-symposium I would like to present an extended version of my PhD-proposal and will discuss the relevance of the concept of SC for public SP as well as possible methodological issues.
Keywords
public organizations, decision-making, strategic consensus, strategic implementation, strategic planning

Downloads

  • (...).pdf
    • full text
    • |
    • UGent only
    • |
    • PDF
    • |
    • 707.33 KB

Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

MLA
Meyfroodt, Kenn, and Sebastian Desmidt. “Strategy Implementation Effectiveness Within the Public Sector: An Empirical and Experimental Analysis of the Role of Strategic Consensus and Its Antecedents.” European Group of Public Administration - PhD Symposium. 2016. Print.
APA
Meyfroodt, K., & Desmidt, S. (2016). Strategy implementation effectiveness within the public sector: an empirical and experimental analysis of the role of strategic consensus and its antecedents. European Group of Public Administration - PhD Symposium. Presented at the European Group of Public Administration - PhD Symposium.
Chicago author-date
Meyfroodt, Kenn, and Sebastian Desmidt. 2016. “Strategy Implementation Effectiveness Within the Public Sector: An Empirical and Experimental Analysis of the Role of Strategic Consensus and Its Antecedents.” In European Group of Public Administration - PhD Symposium.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Meyfroodt, Kenn, and Sebastian Desmidt. 2016. “Strategy Implementation Effectiveness Within the Public Sector: An Empirical and Experimental Analysis of the Role of Strategic Consensus and Its Antecedents.” In European Group of Public Administration - PhD Symposium.
Vancouver
1.
Meyfroodt K, Desmidt S. Strategy implementation effectiveness within the public sector: an empirical and experimental analysis of the role of strategic consensus and its antecedents. European Group of Public Administration - PhD Symposium. 2016.
IEEE
[1]
K. Meyfroodt and S. Desmidt, “Strategy implementation effectiveness within the public sector: an empirical and experimental analysis of the role of strategic consensus and its antecedents,” in European Group of Public Administration - PhD Symposium, Utrecht University, 2016.
@inproceedings{8112875,
  abstract     = {Since the 1970s New Public Management (NPM) became the dominant paradigm within the public sector. Pivotal within this movement is the adoption of putative market and private sector practices by public organizations with the aim of improving their effectiveness (Goldfinch et al., 2010). One of the practices at the core of this movement is strategic planning  (SP) (Ugboro et al., 2011). Bryson (2010, S256), defines SP as ‘a deliberative, disciplined effort to produce fundamental decisions and actions that shape and guide what an organization is, what it does, and why it does it’. However, despite the widespread recognition that a methodical, stepwise approach to strategy development is beneficial to public organizations (Poister et al., 2013) and the fact that SP has become nearly ubiquitous among governments and public organizations at all levels (Bovaird, 2008), the relevance of SP for public organizations is still the subject of debate (Ugboro, et al., 2011). Moreover, a recent literature study acknowledged the lack of conclusive evidence on the effectiveness of SP within public organizations (George et al., 2014). Bryson et al. (2009), however, argue that these inconclusive findings root in the methodologies used. More specifically, research on the effectiveness of SP has focused on analyzing the relationship between SP processes and performance-related outcomes at the organizational level (e.g. Poister, et al., 2010). As such, these studies interpreted SP as a fixed routine leading to a specific outcome while in reality it is a difficult process that involves complex assemblies of (non)human actors held together by multiple, changeable principles (Bryson, et al., 2010). Consequently, future research should focus more on the ‘practice of strategy’; who does it, what they do, how they do it, and what implications this has for shaping the strategy (Bryson, 2010). Shifting research attention towards these SP micro-activities (i.e. practitioners, practices and praxis) and their relationship with proximate and distal planning outcomes (Wolf, et al.,2013), will shed light on the effectiveness of SP in public organizations by providing insights into the relationships underlying the presumed impact of SP on performance.
Because Bryson, et al. (2010) indicated that the essence of SP is the development of fundamental decisions about the pivotal goals of the organization that guide an organization’s strategies and actions, shared strategic understanding or strategic consensus (SC) is viewed as an important proximate outcome which mediates the relationship between SP and performance (i.e. distal outcome) (Walter et al., 2013). In essence, SC centers on ‘the extent to which intra-organizational perceptions converge on shared understandings of strategic priorities’ and is deemed a prerequisite for successful strategy implementation (Rapert et al., 2002, 301) because it minimizes the detrimental effects of the pursuit of subunit or divergent goals (Tarakci et al., 2014). The proposition underlying this research stream is that ‘a higher degree of SC is associated with improved coordination/cooperation in the implementation of strategy, and hence, with organizational performance’ (Kellermans, et al., 2011, 719). However, despite the argumentation that a better understanding of the link between SC and performance is a critical objective ‘in the area of strategy process and implementation, and crucial for the progress of strategic management theory’, empirical results on the subject are ambiguous (Kellermans, et al., 2011, 126) while research accounting for the processes of how SC was reached (i.e. antecedents of planning outcomes: practitioners, practices and praxis) is mostly lacking (Walter, et al., 2013).
Given the cited literature gap, the PhD-proposal would like to address the call for more practice oriented SP research and focus on the role of SC within  the SP-performance relationship in a public context. More specifically, we will:
1.	Provide insights by aggregating and categorizing the available empirical information on the relationship between SC and performance. Hence, we aim to counterbalance the equivocality surrounding the cited relationship by developing an inventory of the available empirical evidence and analyzing if differences in applied research designs (e.g. operationalization of SC and/or performance, measurement methods, and/or research setting) account for the reported variances in the impact of SC.
2.	Empirically address the knowledge gap on the relation between SC and performance in public organizations, and the antecedents of SC using data collected from Flemish municipal councilors. 
3.	Use data from Flemish municipal councilors to assess the extent to which organizational decisions (i.e. strategic priorities encompassed in a strategic plan) act as a framework that guides individual decision-making processes and if higher SC levels impact this relationship given the presumed influence of SC on strategically aligned decision-making.
 
Strongpoints of the proposed research focus/methodology are: 
-	We address the call for a deeper reservoir of knowledge on public SP’s effectiveness by investigating the relations between the micro-activities of SP in public organizations and both proximate and distal planning outcomes (Bryson et al., 2010). 
-	The research setting comprises politicians, an often neglected group of decision-makers in public management research (Nielsen, et al., 2015). 
-	It has been argued that public management research relies too much on non-randomized, cross-sectional surveys. To counterbalance this critique the research proposal will use different information sources for IV and DV to avoid common method bias-issues.
-	It has been argued that experimental methods are underused in public management research (Blom-Hansen et al., 2015) which hampers the kind of observation necessary to clearly identify relationships with decision-making (Margetts, 2011). The research proposal will conduct a randomized survey experiment.
-	An often-cited criticism of survey experiments is the lack of a realistic context and representative sample (Aguinis and Bradley 2014). The research proposal will avoid these pitfalls by surveying all Flemish municipal councilors as well as using actual information as treatment (derived from document analysis of the municipal strategic plans).
At the PhD-symposium I would like to present an extended version of my PhD-proposal and will discuss the relevance of the concept of SC for public SP as well as possible methodological issues.},
  author       = {Meyfroodt, Kenn and Desmidt, Sebastian},
  booktitle    = {European Group of Public Administration - PhD Symposium},
  keywords     = {public organizations,decision-making,strategic consensus,strategic implementation,strategic planning},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Utrecht University},
  title        = {Strategy implementation effectiveness within the public sector: an empirical and experimental analysis of the role of strategic consensus and its antecedents},
  year         = {2016},
}