Reblogged from The Past Speaks:
New Paper on How Firms Use History
Paresha N. Sinha, Peter Jaskiewicz, Jenny Gibb, and James G. Combs. “Managing history: How New Zealand’s Gallagher Group used rhetorical narratives to reprioritize and modify imprinted strategic guideposts.” Strategic Management Journal.
Imprinting theory predicts that organizations are imprinted with multiple intersecting imprints that persist. Evidence suggests, however, that imprints are sometimes reprioritized or modified, implying that they can be strategically managed. We draw upon rhetorical history research and an in‐depth historical case study of New Zealand’s Gallagher Group to describe how one firm managed its imprints. Our inductive theorizing links historically imprinted strategic guideposts to decision‐making via two rearranging processes—that is, prioritizing and suspending—wherein managers use narratives to rearrange guideposts’ influence and two scope modifying processes—that is, constraining and expanding—wherein managers change where guideposts apply. As a first explanation of how imprints are managed, these processes add nuance to existing theory and open new research avenues regarding additional processes and boundary conditions.
Imprints are elements of culture, strategy, structure, or decision‐making that emerge when the firm is founded or during times of turmoil. Imprints resist change and make organizational adaptation difficult. This study explains one way that managers manipulate imprinted decision‐making rules so that organizations can adapt. Using an in‐depth historical case study of New Zealand’s Gallagher Group from 1938 to 2015, we follow four imprinted decision‐making rules that we call strategic guideposts and show how managers rhetorically revised these rules to adapt organizational decision‐making to changing environments. Managers prioritized some decision‐making rules while deemphasizing others or they changed their claims about the kinds of decisions where a decision‐rule applied. Knowing these rhetorical processes can help managers leverage their organization’s history to facilitate necessary organizational change.