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Business disruptions and affective reactions: A strategy-as-practice perspective on fast strategic decision making
Long Range Planning  (IF8.802),  Pub Date : 2020-10-01, DOI: 10.1016/j.lrp.2019.101910
Joakim Netz, Martin Svensson, Ethel Brundin

Abstract This study examines management teams' work in making fast strategic decisions under extreme time pressure. Focusing on affective reactions as behavioural responses to business disruptions due to unforeseen events, we elaborate the strategy-as-practice perspective by drawing upon qualitative and quantitative datasets collected from 39 sites in a corporate setting over three consecutive phases during a four-year period. The data show two types of patterns: intensity-focused and type-focused affective reactions in management teams' use of management tools as part of mental shortcuts when making fast decisions. These patterns are contingent on whether the teams functioned in contexts that had previous experience of management of similar unforeseen events. Affective reactions in the use of tool-based mental shortcuts unveil a mechanism of practices that explains middle management teams’ strategic actions during business disruption due to unforeseen events. While research predominantly suggests that affect is “bad” for management teams in crisis-related contexts, we find that this view is misleading. Affective reactions not only hinder but also aid crucial information exchanges between middle management teams and corporate levels while making strategic decisions under extreme time pressure. Therefore, we propose a reconceptualized view of managing fast strategic decision making and discuss the implications for theory and practice.