Choice, chance and unintended consequences in strategic change : a process understanding of the rise and fall of NorthCo Automotive

Mackay, R.B. and Chia, Robert (2013) Choice, chance and unintended consequences in strategic change : a process understanding of the rise and fall of NorthCo Automotive. Academy of Management Journal, 56 (1). pp. 208-230. ISSN 0001-4273 (In Press)

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Abstract

Strategic change is frequently viewed as emanating from the purposeful choices of organizational actors intent on achieving a prespecified goal against a backdrop of existing environmental forces. Conversely, population ecology advocates maintain that change is a consequence of species populations being subjected to environmental selection. Either way, change is deemed epiphenomenal to social entities (i.e., actors, organizations, environments, etc.); change processes involve the doings of/to things. This reflects an “owned” view of change processes. We present a detailed empirical study of an automotive company's efforts to adapt to “relentless” change. We argue that an “unowned” view of process that elevates chance, environmental uncertainty, and the unintended consequences of choice in accounting for strategic change is a more processual way of understanding the eventual demise of NorthCo Automotive.