Investigating Three Key Principles of Sustained Strategic Renewal: A Longitudinal Study of Long-Lived Firms Defended on Thursday, 25 June 2009

How do long-lived firms strategically renew themselves over time? Viewing organizational longevity as sustained strategic renewal, this PhD research investigates three key principles of self-renewing organizations. Building on the coevolutionary perspective that incorporates both selection and adaptation perspectives, we developed a comprehensive framework to investigate these three key principles in the oil industry as our case industry, in Shell (1907-2008) as our focal case company and BP (1970-2008) as our comparative case company. Besides the multilevel and comparative case study methods, we employed the method of longitudinal content analysis to incorporate the temporal analysis of sustained strategic renewal over an extended period of time. First, we investigated the principle of matching the internal rate of change with the external rate of change. Our results suggest that aligning the internal rate of change of a firm with the external rate of change of the firm’s environment positively influences the firms’ sustained strategic renewal. Second, environmental turbulence requires firms to renew their organizational structure and develop self-organization. Our findings propound that self-organization positively influences sustained strategic renewal. Third, we investigated exploratory and exploitative strategic renewal trajectories as well as the role of top management team (TMT) in influencing these trajectories. We found that balancing exploration and exploitation positively influences sustained strategic renewal and that the TMT’s corporate governance perspective (shareholders / stakeholders) does influence strategic renewal trajectories. Finally, we substantiated managerial implications based on the enabling antecedents of the three key principles.


corporate longevity, strategic renewal, rate of change, self-organization, exploitation and exploration, oil industry, shell, british petroleum

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