Seeking input when the train has left the station: The decoupling of participative strategic decision-making processes and the role of new technology in symbolic management

  • James D. Westphal (Creator)
  • David Zhu (Creator)
  • Rajyalakshmi Kunapuli (Creator)



We examine the symbolic management of participative strategic decision-making programs that purportedly use crowdsourcing technology to solicit strategic input below the executive suite, but are often decoupled from actual strategic decision making. Specifically, top management may decide on a strategic option before soliciting input under the program. The first portion of our theoretical framework explains why disclosure of a participative strategic decision making program in communicating with security analysts is associated with more positive analyst appraisals, despite decoupling, and why the benefits of disclosure are amplified to the extent that leaders highlight the use of crowdsourcing technology in the program. The second portion of our framework addresses the antecedents of symbolic adoption. We suggest that firms are more likely to adopt and decouple a program when the CEO has a personal friendship tie to the CEO of another firm that has adopted and decoupled, especially following relatively negative analyst appraisals. Analysis of a unique dataset that includes longitudinal survey data from executives supported our predictions.
Date made available2021
PublisherSAGE Journals

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