“All the power is within you

102  Download (0)

Full text


“All the power is within you


Empirical research of top-level manager’s influence on the resilience of their firms

MSc. Strategy University of Amsterdam

Author: Steven van ‘t Hart Student number: 1296 1442 Submission date: 31 January 2022

Qualification: Executive Programme in Management Studies – Strategy Track Thesis Thesis supervisor: Jeroen Kraaijenbrink

1 “All the power is within you; you can do anything and everything” Swami Vivekananda


Statement of Originality

This document is written by Steven van ‘t Hart, who declares to take full responsibility for the contents of this document.

I declare that the text and the work presented in this document are original and that no sources other than those mentioned in the text and its reference have been used in creating it. The Faculty of Economics and Business is responsible solely for the supervision of the completion of the work, not for the contents.

Signature: Steven van ‘t Hart


Table of contents










Structure ... 19

Processes ... 21

Resources ... 22

Learning capacity ... 23












Structure ... 37

Process ... 40


Resources ... 45

Learning capacity ... 49

Latent presence of the opposite trait ... 51









Purpose – This thesis aims to provide a broader perspective of the Upper Echelon Theory and resilient firms. The study investigates how and which traits manifest within organisational resilience by understanding the dynamics of abilities (i.e. networking abilities and creativity) that contribute to organisational resilience.

Design/methodology/approach – This is exploratory qualitative research for which nine interviews on a sample of managers and entrepreneurs from a variety of firms were conducted.

The findings were analysed through deductive reasoning and existing organisational resilience literature.

Findings – Ten overarching contributions of top-level management traits to organisational resilience were identified, classifying top-level managers' level of influence and assistance to achieve organisational resilience. In addition, the dynamics within the context of organisational resilience were outlined, and triggers that may initiate or dilute these initiatives were determined.

Conclusion – This study provides an overview of the dynamics within organisational resilience during a rare event. Demonstrating that top-level management traits play an essential role in the strategic choices of resilient firms, with networking abilities and creativity influencing the whole process. The challenges of becoming organisational resilient and ways to overcome them were also discussed.

Originality/value – Previous research did not consider abilities when reviewing organisational resilience in response to other scholars; this research also provides a broader discussion on top- level management traits. In addition, this thesis adds value by combing two abilities (i.e.

networking abilities and creativity) into comprehensive research to uncover the hidden dynamics of organisational resilience. Similarly, this study uses the same levels within organisational resilience and how this is affected by top-level management traits.

Keywords: organisational resilience; resilience of firms; narcissism; empathy; network abilities; creativity; exploratory research



I. Introduction

Early 2020, the first outbreaks of COVID-19 were reported. A few newspaper headlines during that period were “Government’s push for Universal Health Coverage as COVID-19 continues to devastate communities and economies2”, “China’s economy zooms back to its pre- COVID growth rate3”, and “Adaptation, determination, luck: How four small business are surviving the pandemic4”. A worldwide event like this could be labelled as a disruption, disequilibrium, rare, or crisis. By definition, events are rare when they occur outside everyday practice and experience and are portrayed as unique, unprecedented, or uncategorisable (Christianson et al., 2009). Empirical evidence has proven that rare events could lead to entrepreneurial discovery, Schumpeterian profits, creative destruction (Jacobson, 1992), increasing returns (Stoelhorst, 2005), radical innovation, and incremental innovation (Christensen and Rosenbloom, 1993). It is not surprising that many scholars paid so much attention to events like these.

Moreover, these empirical findings are complex and require specific abilities. For instance, Jacobson (1992) denotes that a critical requirement is a fit between the market and the firm’s competencies to compete in that market. This implies that a firm needs the flexibility to invest in opportunities or disinvest in options that dissipate. On the other hand, Christensen and Rosenbloom (1993) mentioned that searching, sensing, and seizing business opportunities are continuous and need to be embedded into the firm’s structure and everyday practice. This constant process then leads to innovations and improves the firm’s viability. Thus, these strategic practices decide the firm’s stability.

Several scholars have mentioned that (organisational) resilience is the balance between stability and flexibility (Couto, 2002; Suarez & Montes, 2020; Gilbert et al., 2012; van der Vegt et al., 2015; DesJardine et al., 2019). This could explain why lately scholars have paid attention to resilient firms. The first findings of resilience come from individual psychology and the science of child behaviour (Van der Vegt et al., 2015). Resilience is the (firm’s) ability to sense

2 “, WHO retrieved form: https://www.who.int/news-room/feature-stories/detail/governments-push-for-universal-health-coverage-as-


3 The Economist retrieved form: https://www.economist.com/finance-and-economics/2021/01/18/chinas-economy-zooms-back-to-its- pre-covid-growth-rate

4 Los Angeles Times retrieved from: https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-10-29/pandemic-business-change-survive


maladaptive tendencies, withstand stress, and redirect, bounce back or recover from rare events (Masten and Monn, 2015; Ortiz-de-Mandojan and Bansal, 2016).

During the years, scholars have given different definitions for organisational resilience such as flexible firms (Volberda, 1996), organisational improvisation (Moorman and Miner, 1998;

Couto, 2002), purpose creation (Couto, 2002; Gilbert et al., 2012), robust transformation (Lengnick-Hall and Beck, 2005), attentional triangulation (Rerup, 2009), stability and flexibility (DesJardine et al., 2019), and shaping or adapting (Rindova and Courtney, 2020).

These findings, however, are on the organisational level, and less is known on the individual level. In response to Foss’s call (2020) to enrich the strategy theory of top-level management traits, this research tries to understand why some firms bounce back, and others do not. In other words, the relationship between organisational resilience and top-level management’s traits.

Furthermore, DesJardine et al. (2019, p. 1435) denote to "shift the conversation to studying broader capabilities that help companies recover" as a response to this, abilities have been added to my study. Cragun et al. (2020) point out that these abilities are moderating factors.

Abilities are the possession of the means or skills to do something. An ability is a qualitative marker and is more comprehensive than a capability, which refers to a degree question.

Therefore, the researcher proposes that top-level management traits affect the firm’s resilience.

Seville (2017) points out that network ability and creativity are two significant abilities within organisational resilience.

Firstly, creativity is one’s ability to develop new ideas, principles, or concepts. Empirical evidence has found that the development of new ideas, principles or concepts is stimulated by different points of view (DesJardine et al., 2019). Narcissistic top-level management is more open to novel solutions but is more inflated with their positive perceptions than recognising the positive contributions of others. As a result, creativity will have a less desirable impact on the firm’s resilience. This contrasts with empathetic top-level management using everyone's input, facilitating sharing ideas and experience, enhancing creativity within a firm and increasing its resilience.

Nevertheless, when close to the firm, narcissistic top-level management can offer an entrepreneurial orientation (Cragun et al., 2020). The entrepreneurial orientation, when done proactively, can then lead to beating competitors and significant returns. These returns will reduce the time to recovery and improve a firms’ viability. These examples show that both traits influence top-level creativity differently but create organisational resilience, which is essential to add.


Secondly, networking ability is one’s ability to connect and maintain these relationships.

Better networking abilities will lead to a vast network that will provide more information and resources. More information improves the decision-making process, and more resources enhance a firm's flexibility. Although narcissistic top-level management build relationships more quickly, they can less manage long-term relationships (Back et al., 2013). Long-term relationships will ensure a firm’s stability during a rare event. Because long-term relationships helped build financial reserves over time (DesJardine et al., 2019). However, due to the lack of management of long-term relationships, narcissistic top-level management will have fewer solid relationships, negatively influencing the firm’s stability.

On the other hand, empathic top-level management will better maintain these long-term relationships. Still, it will have more difficulty establishing new ones, leading to cost reduction and more information or resources. These examples show that networking ability is influenced by top-level management traits and could have a different outcome on organisational resilience, and is essential to add.

In their study, Hambrick and Mason (1984) stated that top-level management traits play a significant role in top-level management’s behaviour drivers and strategic choices. They were the first to note that top-level management traits mainly predict strategic decisions and organisational performance. One example of top-level management traits is the Big Five (Judge and Bono, 2000). The Big Five traits are openness, neuroticism, conscientiousness, extraversion, and agreeableness (Judge and Bono, 2000). However, these five traits can also be summarised in one overarching trait. The general terms are empathy or narcissism. This overarching trait has different effects on the Big Five. For example, narcissistic top-level management is more extraversion than empathic peers. Empathic top-level management is more agreeable than narcissistic peers. In other words, they are opposites.

According to Seville (2017), resilient firms need empathic top-level management.

However, many studies have shown that top-level management is more narcissistic than empathic (Cragun et al., 2020; Busenbark et al., 2016; Campbell et al., 2004; Engelen et al., 2016). This implies that firms have difficulties achieving organisational resilience. In empirical findings, narcissism is mainly labelled harmful or destructive (Holt and Marques, 2012).

However, the results are inconsistent (Cragun et al., 2020). For example, highly narcissistic individuals have a greater sense of efficacy, significantly if they are closely associated with the firm. They are more open to novel opportunities, embrace change, decide more quickly and allocate firm resources accordingly. Their constant strive for self-admiration drives them to extreme task and goal orientation and leads to quick decisions. This example proves that


narcissism positively affects organisational resilience as this exhibits flexibility within the process.

Despite that, empathy is a preferred trait in organisational resilience. Empathic behaviour, nevertheless, has pitfalls as well, like decision inertia (Back et al., 2013). For instance, empathic individuals like to take everyone's feelings and input into account. This leads to an overload of information that cannot be processed, leading to decision inertia (Engelen et al., 2016). Decision inertia will eventually lead to poor performance and influence organisational resilience.

One explanation for inconsistent findings could be the “too-much-of-a-good-thing” effect (Pierce and Aguinis, 2013). This effect defined an apparent paradox; if beneficial antecedents are taken too far, this will cause harm to the organisational outcome. This is undesirable, leading to waste or, worse unwanted effects. The assumption of “more is better” drives to maximise the desired results in theorising. Pierce and Aguinis (2013) explain that effective top-level management depends on considerations and structure and has positive outcomes up to a certain point but undesirable effects once it passes this point. Therefore, this study examines both traits (i.e., empathy and narcissism) and propose that they are desirable for resilient firms.

Combining these separate variables leads to the following research question: What is the influence of the top-level management’s narcissistic or empathic behaviour on network abilities and creativity, and how will this impact organisational resilience?

This study tries to develop a theory based on the influence of top-level management traits on the abilities and how this will impact organisational resilience; therefore, qualitative and interpretative research is more suitable. The data was collected through semi-structured interviews with top-level management or similar positions such as CFO or business unit directors.

Similar to previous research, this research follows the aspects of resilience and how personal traits drive this. Several scholars have studied the organisational level (DesJardine et al., 2019; Lengnick-Hall and Beck, 2005; Seville, 2017), some have studied the individual level (Foss, 2020; Seville, 2017; Van der Vegt et al., 2015), but the learning capacity of a firm is underexposed. This study points out that lessons learned from previous events improve a firm’s viability, adding an extra dimension to resilience. Exploring learning capacity and taking a holistic approach to understanding this fourth dimension could better understand organisational resilience.

Another difference in this research is the abilities involved in the relationship between trait and resilience. While some scholars focus on the organisational level of resilience (DesJardine et al., 2019; Lengnick-Hall and Beck, 2005; Seville, 2017), this research differentiates itself by


exploring the individual within organisational resilience and the dynamics within this process.

Furthermore, by adding two moderators, the researcher tries to bring a broader perspective to the discussion on resilience and trait. This could shed light on a more comprehensive discussion of traits influencing strategy theory. Additionally, this is a response to several scholars’ calls to take a broader perspective in strategy theory and weaken the general view that “more is better”

(Foss, 2020; DesJardine et al., 2019; Pierce and Aguinis, 2013).

II. Literature review

This study examines the effect of narcissistic and emphatic behaviour on networking abilities and creativity to assess their influence on organisational resilience. First, the individual variables will be briefly discussed to give a general overview of these variables. Then, the interrelationships between the variables will be demonstrated on the four dimensions of organisational resilience and propositions are made. Finally, the conceptual model will be presented.

Origin of resilience

Resilience is an interdisciplinary concept used in child behaviour, individual psychology, (socio)ecology, and organisational science. The general concept of resilience is sensing maladaptive tendencies, withstanding stress, and redirecting, bouncing back, or recovering from rare events (Masten and Monn, 2015; Ortiz-de-Mandojan and Bansal, 2016). However, resilience differs between disciplines, like in economics, where it means that the market has abilities to absorb liquidity shocks, in psychology, where one can recover from the effects of traumatic events or in socioecology, where ecosystems, organisations and societies detect changes in nature and response to it (DesJardine et al., 2019).

Resilience may be an interdisciplinary concept between social and organisational science, allowing the discussion to expand between cross-disciplinary issues, such as traits and organisational outcome and performance. However, this weakens resilience, as the concept has different meanings between the disciplines (Brand and Jax, 2007). Therefore, resilience in the management literature is relatively unstable, diluted and ambiguous (Linnenluecke, 2015;

DesJardine et al., 2019). Nevertheless, resilience consists of two opposite abilities, which are stability (persistence) and flexibility (change) (DesJardine et al., 2019; Masten and Monn, 2015). Stability is the ability to absorb and withstand the shock and recover, and flexibility is the ability to adapt or change to the situation (DesJardine et al., 2019; Van der Vegt et al., 2015).


Organisational resilience

Organisational resilience exhibits similarities to the general concept of resilience. Resilient firms can anticipate, avoid and adjust to rare events (Masten and Monn, 2015; Ortiz-de- Mandojan and Bansal, 2016). Rare events may result from political, technological, economic, and sociocultural trends and cause uncertainty and stress. As a result, organisational resilience follows a particular set of activities whereby (1) experience is gained of the changing environment and uncertainty, (2) routines are executed to avoid the increased uncertainty and complexity, and (3) organisational outcomes and performance consequences are realised (Lengnick-Hall and Beck, 2005).

First, the experience must be gained, as these events require changes from those involved.

This experience increases the organisational memory and improves future initiatives on rare events. This underlines that resilience can be taught, despite several scholars describing resilience as a capability (Seville, 2017). Second, firms need to execute their ability and capacity to develop and use a variety of routines and resources. So, they respond to this uncertainty and complexity but also be able to anticipate and adapt to the environment, despite it being outside of the firm’s experience or plans (Lengnick-Hall and Beck, 2005; Ortiz-de- Mandojan and Bansal, 2016; Seville 2017). These routines and resources enhance the firm’s viability as the variety makes them more flexible to invest in opportunities as they arise. Third, this robust transformation is not to re-establish an equilibrium but to transform and create new opportunities, capabilities, and routines for the future (Lengnick-Hall and Beck, 2005). The transformation is necessary as the organisational environment demands this change; otherwise, a firm becomes redundant. Finally, this all comes together in that organisational resilience requires resource allocation (i.e. flexibility), a solid structure (i.e. stability), timely responses and sensing of potential threats (i.e. routines and resources), and adequate innovations (i.e.

learning capacity) (König et al. 2020; Seville, 2017).

Organisational resilience is not something a firm either owns or does not possess. It is a dynamic attribute that helps firms cope with unexpected events and hazards, allows for minor losses and faster recovery, improves viability, and fosters curiosity, leading to new opportunities (Seville, 2017; Ortiz-de-Mandojan and Bansal, 2016; DesJardine et al., 2019).

Therefore, resilient firms can better manage risk because they have more abilities to sense and respond to these events (Ortiz-de-Mandojan and Bansal, 2016). These firms are stable, flexible, and thus resilient (Seville, 2017).


Four dimensions of organisational resilience

Organisational resilience is a dynamic attribute that helps firms cope with unexpected events and hazards allows for more minor losses and faster recovery, improving viability and fostering curiosity, leading to new opportunities (Sevilla, 2019; Ortiz-de-Mandojan and Bansal, 2016; DesJardine et al., 2019). Organisational resilience occurs in four dimensions within the firm, (1) the structure, (2) the process, (3) the resources, and (4) the learning capacity.

First, a firm’s structure determines the control mechanisms into the firm to ensure that objectives are achieved. In other words, the organisational system of activities determines how objectives are achieved. This system includes roles and responsibilities, rules and values, and the firm's mission, vision, and strategic policies. Resilient firms have both stability and flexibility built into the firm’s structure. Stability ensures that the firm is not at risk of losing performance when a rare event occurs. The flexibility of an organisation means that the organisation can respond to the changing environment created by the rare event (Coutu, 2002).

This stability and flexibility include a balanced supply-chain and operating model (Diedrich et al., 2021) and the vision, mission statement and strategy policy complemented by values (Coutu, 2002; Seville, 2017). A balanced supply-chain and operating model ensures that the firm deploys resources just-in-time, i.e. the control mechanism, for example, by adding extra labour force to continue the process when it gets stuck. On the other hand, sufficient organisational process knowledge at all levels will assure a firm’s flexibility. This will improve the organisational system, as firms ensure a quicker response. Finally, the vision and mission statement provides a firm creates a purpose, making a firm more easily bold moves in articulating a better future. In addition, a purpose ensures employees to better identify with the firm, have more commitment, and contribute to the firm’s stability. Employee commitment will ensure that they are willing to give extra effort when needed (Seville, 2017). In addition, Foss (2020) denotes that simplification will strengthen the firm, reducing uncertainty. Purpose creation is a simplification for strategy policy and, therefore, will be a key to sustainable advantages (Foss, 2020).

The firm’s flexibility and stability depend on the organisational structure in which the tasks, responsibilities and roles are arranged. Barrick and Mount (1993) argues that the organisational structure depends on the top-level management trait. The success of the organisational structure depends on the job autonomy of those involved. For example, empathic individuals benefit from a rigid organisational structure, in which trust, support and forgiveness are the rules to be


met. In contrast, narcissistic individuals benefit from an open organisational structure in which job autonomy is high, but the rules are responsibility, dependence and achievement orientated (Barrick and Mount, 1993). However, according to Seville (2017), a firm’s structure will be less dependent than the relationships.

Second, an organisational process is a set of activities that produces something or leads to a certain result. Organisational processes include sensing, seeing and transforming ideas into business opportunities. This process can occur at all levels within the firm but will often happen at top-level management. Here top-level management traits will play a role. For instance, empathic top-level management will acquire an overload of information as they would have everyone’s input.

In contrast, narcissistic top-level management will make decisions more on intuition and will see the information of others as inferior. Looking for signals in the environment can ensure that a rare event can be prevented (Rerup, 2009). The pitfall lies in the fact that signs are not observed or insufficient resources are used to observe them (Rerup, 2009). As a solution, Rerup (2009) mentions attentional triangulation. Attentional triangulation comprises three interdependent dimensions of organisational attention: stability, vividness, and coherence.

These three dependent elements can identify weak cues but combining them increases the speed and clarity to identify. Rerup (2009) argues that this must occur at all levels within a firm to be successful. Thus, making collaboration essential.

An organisational process needs to be flexible and stable to increase organisational resilience. Seville (2017) indicates that processes should be planned as adaptable to increase organisational resilience. For example, small firms will generally have fewer resources but engage in more active collaborations, giving them a resource pool to increase flexibility. On the other hand, scenario plans will provide top-level management with important information, making the decision-making process better and substantiated. This substantiation will increase the firm’s stability, which reduces unauthorised intuition decisions. Also, the continuous sharing of knowledge will make the organisation more stable. Employees will leave the firm during a rare event. Therefore, knowledge sharing is essential for organisational memory, preventing a loss of significant knowledge and skills (Seville, 2017).

Third, organisational resources can be used to increase the firm’s viability. Using resources the right way strengthens the firm's resilience. Resources within a firm are the products, the employees, and the top-level management knowledge and skills. The top-level management’s knowledge and skills are essential to ensure that employees will follow or not (Seville, 2017).

When top-level management has respect, loyalty and trust in employees, this increases the


firm's ability to succeed. In other words, the emphatic behaviour of top-level management increases the stability and flexibility of the resources and thus the firm.

In addition, once appropriately done by top-level management, this affects the employees directly. The employees will feel more supported and thus better able to deal with stress inerrant with uncertainty. Therefore, a resilient firm has employees who have a more internal locus of control (i.e. their confidence that they can change the environment that influences them) and more self-efficacy (i.e. belief in their abilities to achieve their goals) (Seville, 2017). This is an advantage for resilient firms, as they could use the employees’ commitment, which means that

"greater sacrifices" can be required—for example, voluntarily giving up salary to buy fuel for aeroplanes. This is how Southwest airlines solved its oil crisis in 1990.

Van der Vegt et al. (2015) describes that the resources of resilient firms are also the network of suppliers and customers. The stronger this network, the more stable the firm. Because resilient firms have more access and support from their network than less resilient firms. Seville (2017) endorses this by describing it as "having 3 am friends". This is a supply chain in which partners want to work together constructively to solve complex problems.

Fourth, learning capacity is an activity or process of acquiring knowledge or skill by studying, practising, being taught, or experiencing something. The learning capacity of a resilient firm is organisational memory, improvisation, and creativity. Organisational memory is crucial because it stores knowledge and skills. The organisational memory can be expanded through improvisation and knowledge sharing. Moorman and Miner (1998) describe improvisation as skill knowledge (i.e. procedural memory) and fact knowledge (i.e. declarative memory). Skill knowledge is "the memory of how things are done" (Moorman and Miner, 1998;

p. 708). Thus, resilient firms possess more knowledge skills that make them more stable during a rare event and more flexible. The more employees have this skill, the easier it is for them to step in when needed. Fact knowledge is "the memory of facts, events and propositions"

(Moorman and Minder, 1998; p. 710). This memory ensures that signals of a crisis are recognised earlier, as it is stored in the organisational memory. Therefore, resilient firms have more fact knowledge, which allows them to see potential risks faster and react to the crisis sooner, thus increasing their success rate (Rerup, 2009). In addition, resilient firms have more fact knowledge and skills knowledge, which improve their organisational memory. By having more organisational memory, firms can intervene or change course earlier, i.e. improvise.

Finally, according to Seville (2017), creativity and innovation are two other essential skills of a resilient firm. Or, as she describes it, "be like MacGyver". This mindset needs to be present at all levels within the firm to be successful. Seville (2017) indicates that curiosity and a can-


do mentality are essential here, as this increases creativity. Teamwork and no fear of failure is stated as preconditions. A resilient firm will operate outside its current strategic plans and experience, and with experimentation, new opportunities can be discovered (Seville, 2017).

Top-level managements’ abilities: creativity and networking ability

Following up on recent organisational research, with studies exploring empathy and narcissism as representing top-level management traits (Seville, 2017; König et al., 2020), a distinction is made on two abilities as moderators between organisational resilience and top- level management traits. Abilities are the possession of the means or skills to do something. An ability is a qualitative marker and is more comprehensive than a capability, which refers to a degree question. For instance, narcissistic top-level management can (dis)connect with people due to relational context, i.e. admiration for the leader (connect) or when rivalry exists (disconnect) (Back et al., 2013). In contrast, empathic top-level management can sense others’

feelings or recognise facial expressions, which could signal distress (König et al., 2020).

Although the upper echelons theory (Hambrick and Mason, 1984) explains the influence of traits on a firm’s outcome and performance well enough, it does not describe how traits influence these underlying dynamics and processes (Cragun et al., 2020). Cragun et al. (2020) point out that these moderating factors are the top-level managements’ abilities. As traits influence a firm’s outcome and performance, the abilities explain the dynamics in a relational context which are decided by the top-level management traits and their interaction with (organisational) stakeholders.

Like Seville (2017), the researcher uses the same abilities in this research. Seville (2017) points out that network ability and creativity are two significant abilities within organisational resilience. Network ability is described as making a connection and maintaining relationships, or as Seville (2017) explains, as “having 3 am friends”. In the case study of Toyota, it has been proven that monitoring the relationship with suppliers have prevented a more significant crisis.

In 2011, Japan was hit by an earthquake, tsunami, nuclear alert, and power shortage which caused a production loss at Toyota. Toyota limited its losses due to collective and coordinated actions from suppliers, dealers, and overseas operations (Van der Vegt et al., 2015). The opportunity to embrace complex challenges as they arise is (critically) dependent upon suppliers and customers (Seville, 2017). The capability to deliver quality products or be willing and capable of working together during rare events depends on the relationship with suppliers and customers. This implies that empathic behaviour, which enhances the long-term relationship, is essential. However, narcissistic behaviour could have worked as well due to


narcissistic self-protection, which triggers the “frightening fear of failure” (Back et al., 2013).

An offensive strategic stance reinforces sensing of business opportunities outside the firm's plans.

Creativity, the other ability, is one’s ability to develop new ideas, principles, or concepts.

Seville (2017) denote this as “to be like MacGyver”. Creativity is a continuous process on all levels of the firm and an everyday challenge. It ensures that the firm has a wide range of resources and routines to respond to opportunities. This provides both stability and flexibility.

For example, how Southwest Airlines solved its oil crisis in the 1990s. Southwest Airlines experienced a crisis due to the invasion of Iraq on Kuwait, which soared the fuel prices. Instead of discussing this only in the executive team, CEO Herb Kelleher asked the pilots to develop ideas, and with inventive thinking, the oil consumption was dropped without safety issues.

Furthermore, employees also created “Fuel from the heart”, a program to voluntarily donate paycheques for buying gallons of fuel. The creativity boosted the organisational resilience and increased Southwest Airlines' flexibility and stability. This was possible because Herb Kelleher showed emphatic behaviour as he was open to other people's input. However, it could also be narcissistic behaviour because Herb Kelleher was open to novel ideas, embraced change and allocated resources differently.

Top-level management trait: empathy vs narcissism

In their study on upper echelons, Hambrick and Mason (1984) stated that top-level management traits play a significant role in top-level management’s behaviour drivers and strategic choices. Building on the upper echelons theory (Hambrick and Mason, 1984), top- level management decisions are influenced by their actions, cognitive challenges, and emotions.

Psychologists characterise the conceptualisation of emotions such as happiness, anger, anxiety, and sadness as complex mental states by changes in the nervous system. These are accompanied by distinct physiological expressions, behaviour tendencies, and subject feelings (Strongman, 1987). In addition, the role of top-level management is complicated because, in rare events, emotions are provoked for all (organisational) stakeholders since they must manage this variety of stakeholder’s emotions (König et al., 2020). Because rare events are demanding, ambiguous, unique, and pessimistic (Hambrick et al., 2005), copying from other firms or relying on organisational routines is not easy because the firm’s structure and behaviour reflect the top- level management trait (Hale et al., 2006; Hambrick and Mason, 1984).

Several individual characteristics may influence organisational resilience, such as the Big Five (Judge and Bono, 2000) and long-term orientation (Flammer and Bansal, 2017. The Big


Five consists of openness, neuroticism, conscientiousness, extraversion, and agreeableness (Judge and Bono, 2000). At the individual level, this describes the mechanisms of top-level management decisions. However, they are intertwined. Because of this interconnectedness, the personal effects are attenuated, and the overarching themes (i.e., empathy and narcissism) are better (Busenbark et al., 2016). Also, long-term orientation influences organisational resilience, as a lack of this hampering business success (Flammer and Bansal, 2017). This alone does not sufficiently describe the underlying mechanisms of how organisational resilience is affected.

For instance, narcissistic top-level management is driven by a constant need for applause and wants to “leave a legacy”. This long-term orientation could be exhibited in the entrepreneurial orientation (Engelen et al., 2016). However, entrepreneurial orientation can also negatively affect the narcissistic top-level management's eagerness to stay in control, leading to inefficient use of resources and ultimately to time-consuming activities. This shows that the effect depends on the trait of top-level management. Thus, long-term orientation does not sufficiently explain the impact on organisational resilience.

As stated above, the overarching traits, i.e. empathy and narcissism, describe the different effects on the Big Five. For example, narcissistic top-level management is more extraversional than empathic peers. In contrast, empathic top-level management is more agreeable than narcissistic peers. Therefore, the use of empathy and narcissism in the study ensures that the individuals’ effects of the Big Five are discussed. According to Seville (2017), empathic behaviour is a necessity for resilience as this creates a more robust and reliable network, more commitment of employees, and improves processes within the firm. However, most top-level management exhibit narcissistic behaviour (Holt and Marques, 2012). This suggests that most firms struggle with organisational resilience. As a result, the study should include narcissism, as it appears to be predominantly present at the top-level management.

In this research, König’s et al. (2020: p.133) definition of empathy is adopted as “a continuous individual-level construct denoting one’s ability and propensity to sense people’s feelings in emotional distress re-experience these feelings oneself”. König et al. (2020) use this definition in their study on CEOs’ empathy concerning organisational crises, particularly closely aligned with this research. They also indicate that empathy can be a “blessing and a curse”, thus making the definition suitable.

For narcissism, the used definition is from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM) as “a multifaceted personality trait that combines grandiosity, attention- seeking, an unrealistically inflated self-view, a need for that self-view to be continuously reinforced through self-regulation, and a general lack of regard for others” (Cragun et al., 2019


p. 909). Grandiosity refers to self-centeredness, belief in being better than others, and entitlement. Attention seeking suggests one exerts significance to become the focus of attention.

Unrealistic self-view implies that one’s identity is inflated and shows an inaccurate picture.

Self-regulation denotes attributes (i.e. tactics, mechanisms, strategies and processes) that someone uses to shape and regulate their self-image. Therefore, it is crucial to understand a person's motivations and thought patterns. Finally, the lack of sensitivity for others' feelings and the tendency to exploit situations for personal gain is a general lack of regard for others.

Although this definition originated in clinical psychology, it has also been accepted in a non- clinical form (Cragun et al., 2019). This definition ensures that a broad perspective of narcissism is used, thus suitable.

Furthermore, empathy and narcissism are relevant as they are initiated by others and comprise cognitive, emotional, and behavioural tendencies. Using these two overarching themes are more elaborated than other emotional-related constructs. For example, emotional intelligence defines the ability to monitor all emotions (Salovey and Mayer, 1990) but does not explain the interaction between people. On the other hand, empathy and narcissism are more comprehensive because they include perspective-taking and sensitivity to others’ feelings than narrower constructs such as emotion regulation (Gross, 1998) and emotional aperture (Sanchez- Burks and Huy, 2009). Emotion regulation suggests that someone can know which emotions they have, when and how they express and experience them (Gross, 1998). Emotional aperture refers to recognising emotional compositions in a collective (Sanchez-Burks and Huy, 2009).

Both constructs are too narrow to fully explain the influence on organisational resilience, which makes empathy and narcissism better regarded as essential characteristics of top-level management.

Narcissism is often seen as a negative “intonation” (Holt and Marques, 2012). Still, recent studies on narcissism have also highlighted some essential positive aspects such as entrepreneurial orientation (Engelen et al., 2016), narcissistic self-protection (Back et al., 2013), and productive narcissists (Maccoby, 1999). Entrepreneurial orientation senses and identifies new business opportunities that could have significant returns or create a first-mover advantage (Engelen et al., 2016). In addition, narcissistic behaviour could lead to more productivity as they see the big picture and drive to leave a legacy, thus being a productive narcissist (Maccoby, 1999). Finally, due to the grandiosity, narcissistic top-level management protects themselves from the “frightening fear of failure” and exemplified by “Don’t let others tear you down”

(Back et al., 2013: p. 1016). This protectionism will drive top-level management to take a more offensive strategy which could enhance the entrepreneurial orientation, thus leading to


significant rents. The examples show that negative “intonation” is not always justified and can benefit resilient firms.

In contrast, empathy has long been seen as a positive trait but recently received some scepticism, such as avoiding false alarms (König et al., 2020), the “too-much-of-a-good-thing”

effect (Pierce and Aguinis, 2013), and social approval (Bundy and Pfarrer, 2015 ). The “Too- much-of-a-good-thing” effect explains that too much empathy could decrease its impact. For instance, empathic top-level management would like to have input from all participants (social approval), but this would lead to too much information, which is not processable, creates decision inertia, and lowers creative achievement. Besides, empathic top-level management is better at spotting changes in tone of voice or facial expressions of others, making them more likely to register it as a potential alarm. If they detect a possible alarm, they will dedicate resources and attention to averting this crisis, but it will divert attention from other critical strategic decisions (König et al., 2020). Due to the change of focus, the firm's stability can come under pressure, and organisational resilience is reduced.

Interconnectedness between the variables

Firms’ resilience takes place at four levels, namely (1) the structure, (2) the processes, (3) the resources and (4) the learning capacity. Hambrick and Mason (1984) state that top-level management’s traits influence the firm performance and outcome. Thus, the four dimensions of resilient firms will be affected. In addition, the traits will eventually impact the top-level management abilities, namely network abilities and creativity. These skills will ultimately influence organisational resilience. In the final section, interconnectedness is demonstrated, and propositions are made.


The structure of a firm is the way it is organised and regulated. Resilient firms retain their core functions, including identity, have broad and solid relationships and embed a trial- and-error mentality in the organisational structure (DesJardine et al., 2019; Lengnick-Hall and Beck, 2005; Van der Vegt et al., 2015) which enhances their viability. The difficulty of maintaining core functions and identity lies in the constant friction between change and preservation, creating an inherent paradox based on control theories. As a result, the entrepreneurial orientation of top-level management could be a remedy (Engelen et al., 2016).

Entrepreneurial orientation is the firm’s strategic policy and regulation of creating new opportunities and significant rents with a first-mover advantage. Narcissistic behaviour by top-


level management is necessary to achieve entrepreneurial orientation, where networking capabilities provide broader access to information and resources, which is vital for seeing and transforming opportunities (Engelen et al., 2016).

Robust relationships help build financial reserves and thus increase the firm’s resilience, enabling it to absorb the shock of the rare event (DesJardine et al., 2019). The relational context is crucial to building a solid network, where trust and mutual respect are essential (Back et al., 2013). The grandiosity of narcissistic top-level management compromises this, requiring empathic behaviour. Narcissistic top-level management will exhibit rivalry in these long-term relationships, creating distrust and lack of warmth, making the relationship short-lived (Back et al., 2013). On the other hand, admiration for narcissistic top-level management positively affects acquaintance contexts, creating a broad network, which empathic top-level management will lack. A broad network will ensure top-level management of more information to make quicker decisions that are important during a rare event.

A trial-and-error mentality leads a firm to create new routines and resources. This dynamic process also means a change in the organisational structure, which requires different control mechanisms (Volberda, 1996). The top-level managements’ trait determines which structure should be chosen to create new opportunities and use them efficiently. This will have a reinforcing effect on the creative process within the firm. Different contributions from different people will ensure that creativity is enhanced, where trust, support and collaboration are crucial. In addition, seeing the bigger picture can ensure that connections are made more accessible and thus increase creativity. Therefore, making the control mechanisms vital, these need to be set up not rigidly but with high job autonomy. Barrick and Mount (1993) imply that narcissistic top-level management performs better with high job autonomy.

In comparison, empathic top-level management performs better when they have low job autonomy. This means that empathic top-level management can better set up a rigid organisational structure with central trust, support, forgiveness, and collaboration. On the other hand, narcissistic top-level management may better set up an organisational structure in which job autonomy is high, but "responsible, conservative, reliable and performance-oriented (conscientiousness) and sociability, outgoingness and assertiveness (extraversion)" are crucial (Barrick and Mount, 1993: p. 117). This leads to the following proposition:

Proposition 1: Empathic top-level management should organise a robust network and regulate in low job autonomy structure with trust, support, forgiveness and collaboration,

which benefit the firm’s flexibility, whereas narcissistic top-level management should


organise an entrepreneurial orientation on all levels and regulate in high job autonomy structure with responsibility, reliability and achievement orientated which benefit the firm’s



An organisational process is a set of activities that produces something or leads to a particular result. Top-level management consists of sensing, seeing, and transforming new ideas into resources. The information-gathering process is essential. Management must have an extensive information process capacity to respond to the complex changes and develop new routines (Volberda, 1996). Thus, this process starts with obtaining this information, whereby contacts are a resource. Narcissistic top-level management will have more opportunities because their network is broader and quickly makes contacts. However, top-level management tends to ignore negative performance signals, thus colouring the information (Maccoby, 1999;

Busenbark et al., 2016). On the other hand, empathic top-level management prefers to use everyone’s input and overcapacity of information that cannot be processed. This then leads to decision inertia and decrease the firm’s stability.

The traits also determine how decision-making processes are shaped. Brockner and James (2008) describe that visualising strategic issues makes them feel more confident and, therefore, more likely to participate in the change initiatives, more optimistic about their choices, and less uncertain. This can also be seen in narcissistic top-level management who take more significant risks out of self-confidence, often based on gut feelings (Campbell et al., 2004). At the same time, empathic top-level management is more likely to fall back on cost-cutting actions, tighter budgeting, and other restrictive measures (Brockner and James, 2008). Here, the networking abilities of top-level management are a reinforcing factor. Because of their great self- confidence, narcissistic top-level management is less likely to use their contacts and rely more on their gut feelings. In contrast, empathic top-level management will gather more information to make well-informed strategic choices based on scenario planning.

The creative process of a firm is enhanced when multiple views are used. Sharing an idea is only enhanced if the transmitter feels trust and appreciation from the recipient. This is where traits of top-level management have a significant influence. Narcissistic top-level management will consider their input more critical and others' input inferior to their empathetic peers (Chatterjee and Hambrick, 2011). This will cause narcissistic top-level management to make more isolated strategic choices and lower employee commitment. This need not be detrimental to the process if top-level management feels a high commitment to the firm, as with firm


founders (Cragun et al., 2020). The self-protection and constant drive for applause will make them extremely task- and goal-oriented and quicker to make decisions. Finally, the entrepreneurial orientation will cause them to sense earlier where opportunities for success are most significant (Engelen et al., 2016).

However, the process can also be influenced by unforeseen circumstances that cause a firm to do the right thing at the right time without consciously making a choice. This can only be described as luck. The company has no influence on it, but within the process, it can be confirmed and possibly gain opportunities that were not thought possible before. An excellent example of this is the development of the post-it, which came out of the blue. Another circumstance that can disrupt the process is the "too-much-of-a-good-thing" effect (Antonakis et al., 2017; Pierce and Aguinis, 2013). This effect ensures that when too much of it has the opposite effect and thus becomes less successful. Following to the next proposition:

Proposition 2: Empathic top-level management will use scenario plans and networking abilities in their decision-making process, which benefits the firm’s stability. Whereas narcissistic top-level management will use their gut feelings and creativity in their decision-

making process, which benefit the firm’s flexibility. However, luck and the "too-much-of-a- good-thing" effect can influence the decision-making process and are independent of the



Organisational resources can be used to increase the firm’s viability. As indicated earlier, strong relationships provide financial slack, which is crucial for absorbing the shock of a rare event (DesJardine et al., 2019). In addition to relationships, exploiting opportunities and earning rents also affects a firm's financial reserves. Here, the top-level management trait plays a significant role. For example, narcissistic top-level management will overestimate themselves and take unwarranted risks that may lead to costly decisions (Campbell et al., 2004). This contrasts with the empathetic top-level management, which tends to take cost-cutting actions, tighter budgeting and risk-reducing behaviour (Brockner and James, 2008).

Nevertheless, narcissistic top-level management can lead to superior financial results through entrepreneurial orientation (Engelen et al., 2016). This entrepreneurial orientation will cause firms in concentrated and less competitive markets to generate more resources with higher average margins, diluting the trait. The empathetic top-level management is less likely


to achieve superior financial results but is less likely to make risky strategic decisions, diluting the trait’s effect.

Empirical analysis has stressed that exchanges in social networks cause a firm to develop organisational slack. These resources then lie outside the firm but ensure a variety and diversity of resources. This ensures that the firm becomes more flexible and can respond more quickly to the changing environment (Lengnick-Hall and Beck, 2005). The social network exchanges can be described as the “tit-for-tat” initiatives. This initiative is the exchange of mutual favours to have resources at one's disposal quickly. The charisma and openness of narcissistic top-level management combined with the brevity of these initiatives will cause narcissistic behaviour to be preferred over empathic behaviour (Busenbark et al., 2016). In addition, the breadth and potential of this organisational slack will depend on traits.

Although narcissistic top-level management builds a broad and superficial network, this does not automatically mean that they have less organisational slack at their disposal. For instance, the breadth of the network may allow them to draw on resources from other markets where mutual rivalry is not an issue. It will, however, mean that if the narcissistic top-level management creates a hostile environment, this will undo the success of organisational slack (Engelen et al., 2016). Empathetic top-level management will focus on good interpersonal relationships so that organisational slack will be more concentrated on the firm's current resources. Seville (2017) aptly describes this as "having 3 am friends". Because of the good mutual understanding with suppliers, empathetic top-level management will be able to build more on their suppliers and, therefore, useless "tit-for-tat" initiatives because they will have to exchange fewer favours since their relationship is based on trust. This leads to the following proposition:

Proposition 3: Empathic top-level management tend to use related resources within their current market, which benefits the firm’s stability, whereas narcissistic top-level management

has a broader and more diverse range of resources, more often make use of "tit-for-tat"

activities that benefit the firm’s flexibility.

Learning capacity

The learning capacity is an activity or process of acquiring knowledge or skill by studying, practising, being taught, or experiencing something. The traits of top-level management largely determine this capacity. Creativity can be a driver of the firm’s learning capacity. Empathic


behaviour by top-level management ensures that ideas are exchanged because they radiate compassion and trust. This increases organisational memory and facilitates knowledge transfer (Moorman and Miner, 1998). It is crucial that everyone is involved and allowed to provide input. This strengthens the firm's stability because knowledge is guaranteed within the firm. In the case of rare events, it is insurmountable that employees can change their views and thus decide to leave the firm (Seville, 2017). The exchange of knowledge ensures that this risk of knowledge loss is diluted.

Improving the firm's ability to deliver requires collaboration and no fear of failure (Seville, 2017). The empathic top-level managements’ behaviour will reinforce this because it is more likely to detect signals in the tone of voice or facial expressions so that weak clues are detected and addressed earlier (König et al., 2020). Addressing how to deal with these weak cues at all levels within the firm will help prevent and learn from the rare events. To ensure this, processes should be optimised to make information available on time. Here again, the network ability plays a vital role because this ability provide collaboration and trust in the relationships.

Therefore, empathic top-level management will achieve this sooner than their narcissistic peers.

However, learning capacity also requires curiosity and a "can-do" mentality. Although narcissistic behaviour will not foster this, it will strengthen top-level management. Because the narcissistic top-level management has a broader perspective, they will be able to make connections more quickly than the empathic top-level management (Maccoby, 1999). This will positively affect creativity, and, out of curiosity, they will be more likely to make a connection with someone they benefit from. Top-level management also has more self-confidence and trust in their abilities, strengthening the “can-do” mentality, although the trait will not stimulate learning capacity among those involved. However, it may lead to similar behaviour from those involved if top-level management exhibits it publicly; this is most likely because they strive for superiority and applause. This similar behaviour of followers comes from the admiration for the top-level management (Campbell et al., 2004). It will, in turn, have a reinforcing effect on top-level management, as they are driven by a constant craving for applause (Chatterjee and Hambrick, 2011). All this will enhance the firm’s learning capacity, thus making the firm more stable and flexible. This leads to the proposition:

Proposition 4: Empathic top-level management ensures a learning capacity as part of the firm’s culture that benefits the firm’s flexibility, whereas narcissistic top-level management will improve the learning capacity when a can-do mentality is publicly exhibited, that benefits

the firm’s stability.


Conceptual model

This research is focused on: (1) understanding how different top-level management empathy and narcissism influence aspects of resilience, (2) how networking ability and creativity are used to improve the firm’s resilience, and (3) what influences networking ability and creativity and whether this depends on their top-level managements’ traits—leading to the following conceptual model.

Figure 2.3 A model of the impact of top-level management’s trait on the resilience of the firm

III. Methodology

Research design

Less is known about the influence of top-level management traits on the dynamics of networking abilities and creativity within organisational resilience. Since this is an exploratory study with less empirical research, the choice of a qualitative research method is more appropriate. Therefore, the chosen approach was qualitative and interpretive. This method helps to understand better the influence of top-level management traits on organisational resilience and the underlying dynamics. A qualitative design gives more opportunities to investigate this in a cultural and social context (Boeije, 2014; Bryman, 2012; Myers, 2013). Moreover, it also gives more depth to examine other variables, such as perceptions and interpretations by insiders (Bryman, 2012).

Qualitative research gives more depth and understanding of data and has more exploratory strength (Miles and Huberman, 1994). In other words, this research method is more suitable to develop a theory. Top-level management is a social actor who plays a role in the relationship with other participants, and an interpretative approach helps further investigate the differences between participants (Bryman, 2012). Furthermore, interpretative and qualitative research


methods are valuable approaches for this study because they enhanced our understanding of the top-level management’s traits and their influences on organisational resilience. Finally, it provides opportunities to unravel better the abilities dynamics than quantitative research.

Finally, a deductive approach combined with empirical findings and research is a suitable design to build upon previous literature (Ketokivi and Mantere, 2013). Deductive reasoning has the advantage that the process is building upon previous literature, which improves theory testing and contrasts the findings to the literature. Therefore, the researcher will be prevented from considering incomplete terms of observations and reasoning (Ketokivi and Mantere, 2013). This approach is limited because this is considered complete in terms of observations and reasoning, creating fewer new insights. The findings will not result in an accepted or rejected hypothesis. However, it provides interpretations of the best suitable explanation, which could be tested further (Ketokivi and Mantere, 2013).

Data was gathered from individual interviews with top-level management that are experiencing or have experienced an economic crisis due to COVID-19 and are operating in The Netherlands. A semi-structured interview is broadly accepted in qualitative research methods. This type of interview effectively gets detailed and elaborate responses (De Mey and Smith, 2013).

As in most qualitative research, the limitation of this method is that information is one- dimensional. Discussing the topic is not appropriate. Because it is centred around one top-level manager’s perception, this gives another limitation because other actors could have different perceptions or opinions.

Additionally, the added survey after the interviews increases the comparative value as the top-level management have been asked similar questions, only by not doing a reliability check this lower the quality. The survey included 40 questions for narcissism and 60 questions for empathy. The questions about narcissism consisted of two pairs, which the interviewee needed to choose the one they most identified with. This survey is based upon the Narcissistic Personality Inventory and was translated into Dutch. The question about empathy consisted of 60 statements which they need to range from strongly agree to strongly disagree. This survey is based upon the Empathy Quotient of ARC and was translated into Dutch. Using the surveys of ARC and NPI increase the validity of the collected data.

Sample selection

A good representation of a sample is necessary to validate the findings. For this research, the following criteria were; sales drop of >30%, still active in their market, and more than three


years. Resilient firms exhibit a rare event but would recover from it. Therefore, a firm needs to have had a significant drop in sales (>30%). This will impact the firm’s stability and could test a solid network to improve the firm's recovery. In addition, the firm needs to be still active in their market, as only then the recovery could be tested. Finally, the firm must be registered for more than three years in the Chamber of Commerce before 16 March 2020. This is important to test the organisational memory of the firm.

The targeted subject for each firm was the founder/CEO or other top-level functions like CFO or business unit directors as they are well informed and have a comprehensive understanding of the firm, its history, and its achieved actions. This is important to fully understand the firm's motives and (re)action on the rare event.

The sampling strategy combined the researcher’s network and snowball sampling to create a helpful sample of individuals. The researcher first made a list based on the selection criteria of potential interviewees. This list selected top-level managers of the researcher’s network and a selection of newspaper articles based on top-level managers who experienced a rare event. The interviewees were approached through multiple channels. The approaches were made in March, April, and May 2021. Despite all the difficulties, the complete selection eventually resulted in nine top-level managers that fit the criteria.

A survey was conducted to set the quotation for empathy and narcissism as part of the interviews. After the interview, this survey was sent to protect the observer from a biased view of the interviewee. One interviewee (Mr B) refused to fill this in, and therefore this interview is left out of the data collection. An overview of the sample could be found in 3.1 Sample interviews.

Table 3.1 Sample interviews

Interviewee Market Quotation empathy

Out of 80

Quotation narcissism Out of 40

Mr. A Bakery 34 10

Mr. C Hospitality 40 18

Mr. D Hospitality/Bakery 43 19

Mr. E Commercial catering 38 20

Mrs. F Business photography 37 11

Mr. G Events/Hospitality 37 32

Mrs. H Training 51 16

Mr. I Hospitality 24 7

Data collection

Data was collected through nine semi-structured interviews varying from 60 to 120 minutes.

All the interviews are collected in Dutch. The researcher has chosen to conduct the interviews


in Dutch, despite English being the reported language. This is the native language of the subjects and gives more depth and authenticity to the answers (Welch and Piekkari, 2006).

The researcher has selected two opposite traits to see if both traits could create organisational resilience. After the semi-structured interviews, the survey was sent to the interviewees. This survey has collected control variables in the form of a quotation for narcissism and empathy. The questionnaire is added to the appendix.

The protocols were initially created in English and later translated to Dutch. The semi- structured protocol is added in the appendix section. The researcher is not a native English speaker and therefore has asked for the help of fellow researchers who are native English speakers to translate the protocols, the data set, and eventual findings. An overview of the original quotes is added to the appendix section.

The semi-structured protocols were based on theoretical frameworks from previous literature. They focused on: (1) narcissistic behaviour of top-level management, (2) empathic behaviour of top-level management, (3) networking abilities and creativity, (4) organisational resilience, and (5) combing the impact of top-level management behaviour and organisational resilience. The refining of the interview has been done by following Castillo-Montoya theory (2016) and through trial-and-error.

The interviews were conducted face-to-face, except one was done via Teams, with restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A record of the interview has been made and is transcribed verbatim. All subjects consented to this, and their names and company names are anonymised. The interview protocol can be found in the appendix.

Data analysis

The researcher utilised the Gioia method, discussed by Langley and Abdallah (2011), to process the collected data for constant comparison techniques. This method improves comparison between interviewees by determining the frames and focus of latter discussions. Since the research lines between the interviews were similar, clearly delineated themes and patterns can be identified.

In the beginning, the researcher performed an initial open coding by assigning the first-order code and carefully reviewing each transcript. In total, 29 codes were being used. If necessary, in-vivo coding was used to clarify descriptive phrases used to code subjects as a backup. Axial coding was then applied to categorise relationships between and among groups. If any initial code was selected for two or more groups, these codes were either split into two to find a more




Related subjects :
Outline : FINDINGS