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Keywords:

  • strategy process;
  • resource allocation;
  • role of top managers;
  • new business development;
  • strategy and evolution

Abstract

Capitalizing on the Bower-Burgelman process model of strategy making in a large, complex organization, we investigate the multilevel managerial activities that lead firms facing similar new business opportunities to respond with different strategic commitments. Our field-based data provide evidence on (I) the role of ‘corporate contexts’ that reflects top managers' crude strategic intent in shaping strategic initiatives of business-unit managers; (2) the critical influence of early business development results on increasing or decreasing middle managers' enthusiasm to the new businesses and top managers' confidence in these middle managers in a resource allocation; (3) the escalation or deescalation of a firm's strategic commitment to the new businesses as a consequence of iterations of resource allocation. We conclude that it is useful to conceptualize strategy making in a large, complex firm as an iterated process of resource allocation.