Strategic planning in a decentralised industrial group : a process-action study

  • R.A. Easton

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The research was carried out within a major public company. It sought to implement an approach to strategic planning which accounted for organisational values as well as employing a holistic value-free analysis of the firm and its environment.
To this end, an 'ecological' model of the firm was formulated. A
series of value-free strategic policies for its development were generated. These policies were validated by the company's top-management.They compared favourably with their own planning outcomes. The approach appeared to be diagnostically strong but lacked sufficient depth in the context of finding realistic corrective measures. However, feedback from the company showed it to be a useful complementary process to conventional procedures, in providing an explicitly different perspective.
The research empirically evaluated the company's value-systems and their influence on strategy. It introduced the idea of an organisational 'self-concept' pre-determining the acceptability of various strategies.The values and the "self-concept' of the company were identified and validated, They appeared to have considerable influence on strategy. In addition, tho company's planning process within the decentralised structure was shown to be sub-optimal. This resulted from the variety of value systems maintained by different parts of the organisation. Proposals attempting to redress this situation were ofJered and several accepted.
The study was postured as process-action research and the chosen
perspective could be succinctly described as a 'worm's-eye view', akin to that of many real planners operating at some distance from the decision-making body. In this way, the normal strategic functionings of the firm and any changes resulting from the researcher's intervention were observed and recorded. Recurrent difficulties of the planning process resulting from the decentralised structure were identified. The overall procedure suggested as a result of the research aimed to increase the viabiIity of planning and the efficiency of the process. It is considered to be flexible enough to be applicable in a broader context.
Date of AwardFeb 1974
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorDavid J. van Rest (Supervisor)


  • Strategic planning
  • decentralised industrial group
  • process-action

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