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Intransivities of managerial decisions: a grounded theory case

David Douglas (Staffordshire University Business School, Stoke‐on‐Trent, UK)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 1 February 2006




The purpose of this paper is to apply grounded theory methodology to report on an empirical case which develops emergent theories on the human complexities of managerial decision‐making and the synonymous task of managing.


A structured research approach was applied in gathering and analysing data from all actors within a small private sector enterprise. The key objective was to discover what the owner‐manager and all employees perceived as important issues with regard to the managing of the business during a period of post‐takeover. In‐depth on‐site and off‐site interviews were carried out over an extended period.


Emergent theory exposes actors' disputed perceptions of how the business had been managed and ought to be managed, and, the judgments and decisions that had been made and consequently should be made. Revealed is a complex cognitive and behavioural web of human interactions and deep‐seated management‐employee discord that whilst threatening the actual survival of the business appears not to impede questionable practices, both by management and staff. Through the application of grounded theory methodology emergent constructs are discussed against existing knowledge that exposes new insights into management decision theory and the managing of an enterprise.

Research limitations/implications

The process of theory generation whilst grounded in a substantive inquiry has the capacity to generate further research and tentative explanations at higher levels of understanding. From the research reported, questions beyond the substantive case can develop a broader theoretical and practical agenda – for example, issues of other actors' involvement in management decision making and the intrinsic part psychological factors play in the structuring of decisions.

Practical implications

Based on the finding from an empirical study the paper reveals significant practical managerial issues in the day‐to‐day and strategic managing of an enterprise. From a researcher's perspective, the paper critically demonstrates the functionality of grounded theory in management inquiry.


This paper advances the theoretical and practical necessity for the enlargement of the stock of qualitatively bounded research that focuses on grounded theory applications, management practice and decision theory.



Douglas, D. (2006), "Intransivities of managerial decisions: a grounded theory case", Management Decision, Vol. 44 No. 2, pp. 259-275.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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