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.