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Dr Winston Kwon

Winston Kwon

Current Teaching

MGNT 220 – Fundamentals of Strategic Management

MGNT 551 – Strategic Management

MGNT 509 – Management in Practice

FMBA 551 – Strategy Process and Practice

Current Research

Research Interests

My main research interests revolve around two streams: strategic change and strategic decision-making.

Within my research on organizational change, I look at why and how strategic initiatives can succeed or fail to effect lasting change. One of the problems of looking at organizational change is how these initiatives are explained in ‘post-mortem’ accounts. When initiatives succeed, they are often portrayed as being due to the ‘heroic’ and ‘skilled’ efforts of key organizational figures in overcoming entrenched opposition. When initiatives fail, there is a tendency to attribute factors such as organizational apathy, politics and structural/process issues. In other words, success is due to ‘people’ and failure is often due to the ‘system’. My research moves beyond these lop-sided explanations in order to unpack how organizational structures, processes and culture interact to enable and constrain managers in their attempts to implement strategic initiatives. When the operating environment changes (e.g. shifting market demand, regulatory changes, etc.), this often results in increasing contradiction and friction between various parts of an organization (e.g. functional divisions, processes, cultures/sub-cultures). This research focuses on how lasting change is often the result of manager’s ability to exploit these organizational contradictions by successfully framing issues such that necessary stakeholders and resources can be marshalled such that initiatives can become self sustaining. This research is of interest to senior managers wanting to better understand how cultural and structural contexts can crucially influence the success and failure of strategic initiatives.

Strategic decisions within organizations are rarely made at a single point in time. Much of the consensus is developed through informal meetings and discussions, with the formal confines of the meeting often used to ‘stage’ and legitimate the decision. Strategy doesn’t just emerge fully formed, it is something that is happens through the interaction (i.e. arguing, persuading, agreeing, resisting) of individual senior managers – each with beliefs, interests and motives that are simultaneously similar and divergent. Given recent changes in the regulatory environment such as Sarbannes-Oxley, and with even more significant ‘sea-changes’ in the regulatory environment expected in the near term – is placing greater demands on the role of board meetings as a critical part of the compliance and accountability process in which it increasingly the location where crucial decisions are transparently discussed and resolved. Within this stream of research, I look at how strategic decisions are made by senior management teams, by focusing on their interactions within boardroom meetings. I use various approaches such as CDA (critical discourse analysis) and CL (corpus linguistics) to analyse the discursive tactics and strategies used by managers to raise issues, sustain them on the organizational agenda, and marshal necessary support and resources. Although the broader context of the meeting and the way in which an argument is made and framed in the ‘heat of the moment’ is crucial to its persuasiveness, there is still relatively little research in this area. This research may be of interest to managers seeking to improve the quality of discussion within these meetings by providing insight into what is going on ‘between the lines’.

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