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Erratic strategic decisions: when and why managers are inconsistent in strategic decision making



While decision makers in organizations frequently make good decisions rooted in stable and consistent preferences, such consistency in outcomes is not always the case. In this study, we adopt a psychological perspective of judgment to investigate managers' erratic strategic decisions, which we define as a manager's inconsistent judgments that can shape the direction of the firm. In a study of 2,048 decisions made by 64 CEOs of technology firms, we examine how both metacognitive experience and perceptions of the external environment (hostility and dynamism) could affect the extent to which managers make erratic strategic decisions. The results indicate that managers with greater metacognitive experience make less erratic strategic decisions. The results also indicate that in hostile environments managers make more erratic strategic decisions. But contrary to our expectations, in dynamic environments managers make less erratic strategic decisions. Similarly, hostility and dynamism interact in their effect on erratic strategic decisions in that the positive relationship between environmental hostility and erratic strategic decisions will be less positive for managers experiencing high environmental dynamism than those experiencing low environmental dynamism. These results have important implications for strategic decision-making research. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.