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Why Do Firms Launch Corporate Change Programs? A Contingency Perspective on Strategic Change


Scandinavian Journal of Management


Strategy and Entrepreneurship

Authors / Editors

Kunisch S;Birkinshaw J;Boppel M;Choi K

Publication Year



We study strategic change as a visible and substantive action by examining the circumstances under which firms launch corporate change programs. Drawing on prior literature and corroborated by insights from interviews with executives, we propose a contingency perspective on the launch of corporate change programs (i.e. that different types of programs are launched under different circumstances). To do so, we combine arguments for three general motives for launching a corporate change program with two distinct types of corporate change programs. More specifically, we argue that firms are more likely to launch growth-oriented programs when the market situation is buoyant, when they have prior experience, and when they are underperforming. Furthermore, we argue that firms are more likely to launch efficiency-oriented programs when there is a new CEO, when they are underperforming, and when they are facing high levels of organizational complexity. To test our hypotheses regarding the motives for launching programs, we conducted a large-scale empirical study. Using hand-collected data for the European financial services and insurance industry over a ten-year period, we found support for our predictions. We discuss the implications of these findings for strategic change research.

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