Mastering Strategic Change in a Political and Complex Organization

Olli Rusanen, Mikko Hänninen, Lauri Paavola

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


Structural complexity has been previously studied in cases where it has been created by specialization, technology or regulation. Complexity is typically considered as a source of causal ambiguity that creates an information problem for top management. We focus on a case where an organization has accumulated structural complexity due to its decentralization and idiosyncratic historical conditions which has led to political decision making, with zero-sum games, gatekeeping power groups with conflicting interests. Our longitudinal extreme case is S-group (1983-1988), a co-operative retailer, which faced two problems: information- and implementation problems. The former was caused by structural complexity whereas the latter by organizational politics. S-group has a dual authority structure where independent co-operatives appoint CEO but also collectively has power of management dismissal. S-group was in crisis due to an internal monopoly which created an intra-group welfare loss and an automatic funding mechanism for crisis co-operatives that favored status quo. Our study highlights that change in such circumstances requires support from the board, a sense of urgency in decision making and partial middle-management participation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAcademy of Management Proceedings
PublisherAcademy of Management (AOM)
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventAcademy of Management Annual Meeting: At the Interface - Atlanta, United States
Duration: 4 Aug 20178 Aug 2017
Conference number: 77

Publication series

NameAcademy of management Proceedings
ISSN (Electronic)2151-6561


OtherAcademy of Management Annual Meeting
Abbreviated titleAOM
CountryUnited States

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