The doctoral dissertations of the former Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and Aalto University Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI) published in electronic format are available in the electronic publications archive of Aalto University - Aaltodoc.

Systematic Management of Emerging Strategic Issues: Organisational Attention Allocation and Strategic Issue Management System Performance

Peter Kunnas

Dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission of the Faculty of Information and Natural Sciences for public examination and debate in Auditorium TU2 at Helsinki University of Technology (Espoo, Finland) on the 27th of November, 2009, at 12 noon.

Dissertation in PDF format (ISBN 978-952-248-015-6)   [1380 KB]
Dissertation is also available in print (ISBN 978-952-248-014-9)


Anticipating and responding to emerging strategic issues can undoubtedly be argued to be at the heart of corporate strategy making. By making timely adjustments and revisions to the corporation's strategy, top management can attempt to create a (sustainable) competitive advantage for the company. However, while academic research has attempted to provide its share of material to deepen the understanding of management of strategic issues, that understanding remains somewhat limited. From a managerial standpoint, the solutions to tackle the problem of managing emerging strategic issues are still almost non-existent.

The dissertation explores how corporations can deal with strategic issues that emerge outside their regular strategy processes. Strategic issues are defined as developments that have the potential to impact the organisation's strategy. Strategic issues can arise both endogenously as well as exogenously to the organisation. Specifically, the dissertation explores:

Given the scarce research on portfolios of strategic issues over time, the dissertation examines all the strategic issues in a single multinational corporation in a high-velocity environment. The dissertation takes an engaged scholarship approach to investigating the emergence, evolution and resolution of strategic issues by employing both quantitative and qualitative methods.

As a key contribution, the dissertation puts forward a novel concept, namely the saturation of an organisation's strategic issue management capacity. The concept of saturation contributes to bringing the recent attention allocation stream of strategy process research and the research on organisations as interpretation systems with the more established strategic issue management research. By introducing the concept of attentional saturation, this dissertation extends the received knowledge on organisational attention allocation by demonstrating how attentional structures on multiple organisational levels develop over time. In so doing, the present research expands the attention-based view of the company. In addition, the research also builds on the earlier research on cognitive spaces and extends it by developing a new method to analyse the cognitive space of the company in relation to strategic issue management and information processing.

Keywords: strategy process, strategic issue management, strategic agenda

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© 2009 Helsinki University of Technology

Last update 2011-05-26