The Adoption and Use of Digital Communication Technologies in the Strategic Management Process

  • Christopher Hazlehurst

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The strategic management literature is currently falling behind other areas in business management when it comes to providing meaningful data and theoretical explanations about the adoption and use of digital communication technologies. Many important issues, such as details of which kind of technologies are used for the different parts of strategic management remain largely unexplored. Drawing on media synchronicity and media interactivity theory, this thesis provides a meaningful classification of digital communication technologies with which scholars can explore how different affordances (degree of control and synchronicity) help to explain the varying impact digital communication and social technology use can have on a business process. Further, I detail a novel theory which explains how specific types of this classification are better suited for some activities associated with the strategic management process than others and lead to a higher business performance. I also provide a theoretical framework that identifies several factors in the firm’s organizational and environmental context that are significantly associated with the adoption of digital communication technology in the strategic management process. By using a quantitative survey methodology I researched the phenomena of digital communication technology adoption and use for the strategic management process in 239 British and German firms.

I systematically explored the strategic management literature and discovered that the lack of progress could, amongst other reasons, be attributed to an insufficient theoretical explanation of how digital communication technology use affects the strategic management process. Based on open strategy and digital strategizing theory, I provide such a theoretical explanation and empirical support for the fact that using specific types of the digital communication technologies for certain activities in the SMP, e.g. mission statement formulation, can enhance the effectiveness of this stage. I make a novel contribution to the open strategy literature by developing and testing new theory that can help us understand how opening up certain activities of the strategic management process through digital communication technologies can help to make that process more efficient. By identifying the specific type of digital communication technology that support each of the activities best, I contribute to the digital strategizing literature by highlighting the importance of the affordances each technology has in its adequacy to meaningfully enhance the efficiency for the various activities.

Furthermore, I uncovered the anteceding factors that can be associated with an adoption of digital communication technologies in the SMP (process compatibility, participation intention, and network effects). I focused on two theoretical angles for this: diffusion of innovation and adaptive structuration theory as these allow me to explain potential associations between strategic management-specific factors and technology adoption in the strategic management process. Resultantly, I discovered the central role top management plays in supporting such an adoption by acting as a mediator in the technology adoption process. With this I contribute to the diffusion of innovation theory by providing empirical evidence for the role of “champions” in the adoption process. Furthermore, I add to our understanding of adaptive structuration theory, as I identify the importance of compatibility of the strategic management process with the technology that is adopted.

My theoretical explanations provide useful insights for strategic management as my data supports the claim that shared-control digital communication technologies such as wikis, forums, and collaboration platforms can enhance the effectiveness of the strategic management process. Moreover, my theoretical model for describing the adoption of digital communication technologies in the strategic management process highlights the important role organizational and environmental factors play in technology adoption while the technological factors, such as technology readiness and integration do not.
Date of Award1 Jan 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorKeith Brouthers (Supervisor) & Michael Etter (Supervisor)

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