Competitive strategies and structures in three New Zealand industries through a postmodern lens
Thesis DisciplineBusiness Administration
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This thesis is a description of an emergent inquiry which extends the methodological, theoretical, and philosophical conventions which have become entrenched within the strategic management literature. The purpose of the research is to use a postmodern sensibility to describe historical events gleaned from first-person accounts in an attempt to present 'insider views' of managing in a de-regulating economy in a globalizing world. The research is located within the New Zealand experiment of economic, political, and social change during the 1980s and 90s. The postmodern sensibility has impacted most clearly in the production of this document. The thesis is an example of alternative forms and structures and contents not usually found within the strategic management literature. A processual, reflexive method is used to construct a sense-making narrative which connects the tales of three journeys; managerial, researcher and academic. Postmodern concerns of 'discourse', 'fragmented identities' and 'research as resistance' are used to link the three forms of knowledge production; managerial, researcher, strategic management. Managers from three New Zealand industries, footwear manufacturing, wine and printing, were interviewed to gain an 'insider view' of firm strategy and industry structure. Although a diversity of issues emerged during the research, I decided that each industry story would privilege one aspect of common threads which I perceived in all of the industries, but which had 'emerged' more strongly in a particular industry during this interpretative research project. The distinct conclusion that strategy is a journey not a destination as suggested in most of the strategic management literature was evident as the footwear manufacturers retreated from volume. Most managers in this study appear to be intent on continuing the journey rather than arriving at a destination. That cooperation and competition are necessary for industry survival in a de-regulating economy was most evident in the wine industry. It is obvious that a gap exists between the strategic management discourse and the practices and values of managers in this study. Cooperation\competition appears more significant than competition for industry survival in this small society. Rather than ONE designated strategy, firms are dedicated to a diversity of generic strategy combinations in order to survive in a globalizing economy. Keeping the strategic journey going by 'sustained adaptation' seemed the intention of most of the managers in this study, but especially those in the printing industries. The creation of flexibility within a competitive\cooperative environment is the imperative of firms and industries in this study.