Strategic Issues Management: Implications for Corporate Performance
This book consists of four interrelated parts. Part I consists of three chapters (one, two, and three), and constitutes the empirical and theoretical introduction of this thesis. The purpose of the first (current) chapter is to introduce the two research questions that guided the design and execution of this project. The second chapter, which consists of two parts, sketches the empirical context of the research by introducing the genetic modification case study. In the first part I introduce the methodology I have used to conduct this case study. I head off with a discussion on the design of the study, which is followed by a treatment of the data collection and analysis procedures, and by an explanation of the procedures followed for establishing reliability and validity. In the second part I provide a brief general description of the case study, using both an event history (a chronological representation of the facts of the case) and a narrative account of the major occurrences characterizing the introduction of genetically modified ingredients on the Dutch market. The third chapter of this text provides an integrative theoretical framework of strategic issues management. The chapter starts with a review of two important streams of issues management research. I begin by introducing the externally oriented public affairs/corporate communication approach, and subsequently proceed with the more internally oriented organizational behavior approach to issues management. For both of these approaches it will be explained (a) how they see the strategic issue construct, and (b) how they view the strategic issues management process. I continue by introducing an integrative theoretical framework of strategic issues management, which draws upon and attempts to integrate both of the aforementioned research streams. The framework results in a number of theoretical hypotheses explaining (a) what types of issues management activities commercial organizations may use to manage those forthcoming developments that threaten to impinge upon their ability to meet their objectives, and (b) how the adoption of such activities can be linked to the attainment of a more favorable competitive position. In effect, this framework has guided and supported all further theory-building efforts that are reported in this book. Part II of this book consists of chapters four and five. This second part reports the findings of the first empirical study of this volume, the in-depth case study of the issues management practices of the firms in the Dutch fats and oils industry with respect to the highly salient issue of genetic modification. More precisely, this part addresses the first research question of this project by providing an elaborate explanation of the two issues management strategies that were uncovered with the help of the qualitative study. Chapter four discusses the issues management strategy of stakeholder integration (the development of trust- based, cooperative relationships with a broad range of external stakeholders [Hart, 1995; Sharma & Vredenburg, 1998]). Two conceptual dimensions (locus and modus of stakeholder integration) are used to develop a typology of four different integration types. Subsequently, these four types are illustrated with case study evidence, and linked to four corresponding competitive benefits. Chapter five is devoted to a discussion on capability development (the integration of individuals' specialist knowledge into higher-order organizational knowledge resources [Grant, 1996]), the second issues management strategy that was revealed with the help of the case study of the Dutch fats and oils sector. Again, two conceptual dimensions (allowed response time and public activism)areusedtodevelopa straightforward two-by-two typology of issues management capabilities, which are also illustrated with evidence from the case study. A subsequent discussion of the capability building process explains how the organizations in the case study sample went about building such competitively valuable resources. Part III of this book consists of chapters six and seven. It reports the findings of the survey study that was performed to provide an answer to the second research question raised in the present chapter. In chapter six I discuss the methods I followed while conducting the survey research. I will start by presenting a brief overview of the properties of the research sample, and proceed by reporting the procedures for purification of the six psychometric scales that were used to measure the central constructs of the study. Chapter seven discusses the results of the survey study. The chapter heads off with a recapitulation of the research model as it was presented in the third chapter of this text. It proceeds by presenting the results of four hierarchical regression analyses that were used for testing the research hypotheses developed in chapter three (using the four previously selected performance indicators [economic benefits, strategic benefits, corporate reputation, and biotechnology reputation] as the respective dependent variables). The regression procedure consists of two steps. In the first step, it is determined whether the amount of additional variance that is being explained by adding the two explanatory variables (stakeholder integration and capability development) to a regression model that only contains the control variables (i.e., corporate size and industry) differs significantly from zero. As a second step, the individual coefficients of the explanatory variables in the full model (which includes both the predictor and the control variables) are inspected to see whether the individual issues management activities add to a firm's competitive advantage or not. Effectively, this latter step represents the actual testing of the integrated framework of issues management. Part IV finally, consists of chapter eight only. This chapter presents the overall conclusions of this book, drawing upon both the case study and the survey research. First, the findings of these two studies are discussed in terms of the research questions that were introduced in the first paragraph of this introduction. Secondly, I discuss the limitations of the chosen approach; particularly those pertaining to the measures in use and the research setting I have selected. Before finishing this book with some brief concluding remarks, I will present a concise agenda for future research.