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What’s the Problem? Reformulating the Problem for Balanced-Strategy Creation
Karlstad University, Faculty of Economic Sciences, Communication and IT.
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

By asking “What’s the problem?” this thesis addresses the crucial relationship between how strategic decision-makers formulate organizational problems and how the relevant actors attempt to solve these problems. This thesis holds that the creation of strategy can be conceived of as a decision-making process in which the strategists find, formulate and attempt to solve problems by choosing a set of means to reduce the perceived gap between the current state and the desired state of the organization. The thesis particularly explores and postulates what is refered to as the means-end fallacy in which end-problems are treated as means-problems. In effect the decision-makers take the ends of the organization for granted and only ask “How can we fix it?” instead of critically examining the purpose of the organization by asking “What should we fix and why?”

The purpose of this thesis is twofold. First, it is to explore the dysfunctional consequences of the means-end fallacy in organizational decision-making and creation of strategy. Secondly, it is to illuminate the implications of applying the problem-formulation perspective in the creation of organizational strategies. To achieve these purposes the problem-formulation phenomenon is explored in five appended papers. Paper I discusses the paradox of profitability and responsibility and the means-end fallacy in the context of strategic theory and practice. Papers II, III and IV explore the relationship between how a problem is formulated and how different actors attempt to solve it. This is done with a comprehensive case study of the substance-abuse problem and the different organizational strategies that are implemented to resolve it. Paper V offers a concrete discussion of how inappropriate formulations of organizational problems undermine the intended ends, particularly with regard to the paradox of profitability and responsibility.

This thesis argues that the strategic decision-makers need both to be more problem-oriented; that they should balance the different dimensions of the problem; and, thus, that they should recognize that decision-making is an art of balance. Moreover, it suggests that the problem-formulation perspective can contribute with an insight into the black box of strategy creation, and that this can be achieved by looking back or rewinding from the organization’s strategy to the initial formulation of the organization’s problems. As a mirror image it suggests that strategic decision-makers can avoid the means-end fallacy by forwarding from an appropriate formulation of the problem to a balanced strategy.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstad University Press , 2011. , 112 p.
Series
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2011:41
Keyword [en]
Problem formulation, balanced-strategy creation, the means-end fallacy, decision-making, corporate social responsibility, creativity
Keyword [sv]
Problemformulering, balanserad strategiutveckling, medel-mål felslutet, beslutsteori, företagets sociala ansvarstagande, kreativitet
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Administration
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-8044ISBN: 978-91-7063-376-8 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-8044DiVA: diva2:434118
Public defence
2011-10-14, Auditorium C - Bæla, Høgksolen i Lillehammer, Lillehammer, Norge, 12:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2011-09-20 Created: 2011-08-12 Last updated: 2011-09-21Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Business as Usual and the Barriers to Sustainable Innovations
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Business as Usual and the Barriers to Sustainable Innovations
2009 (English)In: Beta, ISSN 1504-3134, no 1, 27-44 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-8327 (URN)
Available from: 2011-09-20 Created: 2011-09-20 Last updated: 2011-09-20Bibliographically approved
2. What’s the problem? A problem-based approach to the reform of the Norwegian drug rehabilitation sector
Open this publication in new window or tab >>What’s the problem? A problem-based approach to the reform of the Norwegian drug rehabilitation sector
2010 (English)In: European Journal of Social Work, ISSN 1369-1457, E-ISSN 1468-2664, Vol. 13, no 3, 339-357 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-8328 (URN)
Available from: 2011-09-20 Created: 2011-09-20 Last updated: 2011-09-20Bibliographically approved
3. Through Different Eyes: An Exploration of Divergent Conceptions of the Drug Problem and Drug Rehabilitation in the Norwegian Drug Sector
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Through Different Eyes: An Exploration of Divergent Conceptions of the Drug Problem and Drug Rehabilitation in the Norwegian Drug Sector
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-8329 (URN)
Available from: 2011-09-20 Created: 2011-09-20 Last updated: 2011-09-20Bibliographically approved
4. Not your problem? Exploring the relationship between problem formulation and social responsibility
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Not your problem? Exploring the relationship between problem formulation and social responsibility
2011 (English)In: Etikk i praksis, ISSN 1890-3991, Vol. 5, no 1, 31-50 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-8330 (URN)
Available from: 2011-09-20 Created: 2011-09-20 Last updated: 2011-09-20Bibliographically approved
5. The Why and How of Corporate Social Responsibility
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Why and How of Corporate Social Responsibility
2011 (English)In: Beta, ISSN 0801-3322, E-ISSN 1504-3134, Vol. 25, no 2, 121-137 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
National Category
Business Administration
Research subject
Business Administration
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-8331 (URN)
Available from: 2011-09-20 Created: 2011-09-20 Last updated: 2017-07-04Bibliographically approved

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