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What’s in it for Me? Competitive Strategy, Issue Interpretation and Practice Implementation in the Institutional Context

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ABSTRACT What’s in it for Me? Competitive Strategy, Issue Interpretation and Practice Implementation in the Institutional Context Marlon Delano Nangle While pursuing business objectives, each organization faces the challenge of balancing competitive and institutional demands. However, for some firms the conformance to institutional pressures to adopt and fully implement a practice does not necessarily imply that the most effective and efficient choice is made. The conventional practice diffusion model tends to neglect the stage of implementation, thus in order to fill this void, attention needs to shift to the motivation and cognition surrounding the implementation decision, namely how the practice is interpreted. However, additional work is also needed to understand what factors might predict issue interpretation (Jackson and Dutton, 1988). Drawing theoretical insight from institutional theory, organizational agency, competitive strategy and issue interpretation I argue that a firm’s competitive strategy will influence the extent of implementation a practice receives. To conduct this study I examined the implementation patterns of a quality practice that has been introduced to the tourist accommodation industry in the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago. The competitive factors that lead managers to interpret the practice as an opportunity for gain versus a threat for loss were examined to better understand motivations towards an adopted practice in a competitive environment. Results suggest that the competitive environment does indeed influence how an adopted practice is interpreted. Further results demonstrate that there exists a strong association between issue interpretation and practice implementation extent that is arguably decided by top management beliefs regarding the value of the practice. Limitations of the study and potential avenues for future research are discussed followed by practical implications rendered applicable to business and society.

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