Toward a cyclical model of resource alteration
Doktorsavhandling, 2017

Strategy work is principally about resource alteration. As managers attempt to alter their organizational resources, they need to ask two questions: “What are our resources?” and “How can we use these resources?” Managers will probably have little difficulty answering these questions in the case of tangible resources, e.g., tools, money, and facilities. However, in the case of intangible resources e.g., intellectual property, brands, and goodwill, these questions become more difficult to answer. And in the case of abstract resources, e.g., attention, creativity, and culture, the answers become even more elusive.   The mainstream advice to managers is that they should accurately assess their organizational resource base and unambiguously understand how these resources link to performance before they attempt to alter resources. This dissertation investigates how resource assessments actually take place in practice, how resource understandings shape resource alteration choices, and how resource alteration, in turn, shapes how managers understand their organizational resources. Three fine-grained studies highlight the contentious aspects of resource alteration. The studies show how managers try to find advantageous uses of resources they do not yet possess in order to solve problems that they often do not fully understand. The studies show also how managers, depending on their hierarchical and functional area memberships, come up with different answers to what resources they have and how these resources can be used. Not more or less accurate, just different.   A theoretical model is proposed that depicts resource alteration as a perpetual cycle. By combining cognitive theory and practice theory, the model attempts to capture how activity configurations shape both practical and conceptual resource understandings and how these resource understandings predispose actors to certain resource alteration choices. The model also proposes that the resulting feedback on these resource alteration proposals, in turn, alter activity configurations. On the basis of the dissertation’s findings and the theoretical model, managers are advised to consider three dimensions of resources—asset characteristics, coordinated activities, and enacted rules—when they attempt to answer resource related questions.

Resource

cognitive theory

fine-grained

micro-level

resource understanding

practice theory

resource alteration

Vasa C, Vera Sandbergs Allé 8, Chalmers
Opponent: Prof. Patrick Reinmoeller, Cranfield School of Management

Författare

Peter Altmann

Chalmers, Teknikens ekonomi och organisation, Innovation and R&D Management

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Altmann, P. Resource schema divergences and cognitive conflicts during resource alteration: The role of everyday practices

What are resources, really? How do people in a company work with their organizational resources? What determines how people throughout a company understand resources? And what is the relationship between how people work with resources and how they understand these resources? When resources refer to tangibles, e.g., tools, money, and facilities, these questions may be easy to answer. However, when resources refer to intangibles, e.g., intellectual property, brands, and goodwill, these questions become more difficult. And when we discuss resources that are abstract, e.g., creativity and culture, the answers become even more elusive.

The purpose of this dissertation is to extend theory on how resource under-standings and resource alterations unfold within and between a firm’s different task environments. Based on three in-depth field studies, this dissertation shows how people throughout an organization understand resources as they use them, and use resources based on how they understand them. Resource usage and resource understandings are reciprocally linked in an ongoing cycle of resource alteration. To view resource usage and resource understandings as cyclical, sheds new light on some common aspects of everyday organizational reality. For instance, it suggests that a SWOT analysis does not reveal strengths and weaknesses that exist in some objective sense, but instead helps people come to an agreement of what these strengths and weaknesses are.

This dissertation contributes to our academic understanding of resources by combining cognitive theory and practice theory. In doing so, it takes a step toward a more dynamic view of resources and their cognitive contexts, which enable us to generate practically relevant knowledge. The dissertation also advises managers to consider three dimensions of resources—asset characteristics, coordinated activities, and enacted rules—when they attempt to answer resource related questions.

Drivkrafter

Innovation och entreprenörskap

Ämneskategorier

Företagsekonomi

ISBN

978-91-7597-573-3

Doktorsavhandlingar vid Chalmers tekniska högskola. Ny serie: 4254

Utgivare

Chalmers tekniska högskola

Vasa C, Vera Sandbergs Allé 8, Chalmers

Opponent: Prof. Patrick Reinmoeller, Cranfield School of Management