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Simulating Strategic Adaptation

Torben Juul Andersen (Copenhagen Business School, Denmark)

A Study of Risky Business Outcomes: Adapting to Strategic Disruption

ISBN: 978-1-83797-075-9, eISBN: 978-1-83797-074-2

Publication date: 29 September 2023


This chapter explores other theoretical explanations to the commonly observed phenomenon of negatively skewed performance outcomes and inverse risk-return relationships in empirical firm data. The analysis conducted in many prior studies have implicated direct causal dependencies between performance and risk, or vice versa, with the possibility of simultaneous two-way relationships that are harder to discern. It is also shown how spurious artifacts deriving from the arithmetic links between mean and variance associate left-skewed distributions with negative mean variance correlations. However, the heterogeneous display of response capabilities among firms that compete in the same industry contexts may provide an alternative explanation for the observed performance characteristics. This is expressed as strategic responsiveness where performance outcomes with high negative skewness and excess kurtosis derive from heterogeneous adaptive processes among firms as they respond to a dynamic environment with different degrees of success. We test these results in different simulated competitive contexts disrupted by major unexpected events and find robust results across different environmental scenarios. The analysis looks at two different response processes, one modeled as conventional adaptive planning following an annual budget cycle, and another modeled as interactive updating where executives have frequent informative budget discussions with operating managers in the firm. The computational simulations show that interactive updating generates outcomes with higher returns and lower performance risk for moderate learning levels and restructuring costs. However, the resulting performance distributions are not as left-skewed as those observed in the empirical data that show higher resemblance to the adaptive planning outcomes.



Andersen, T.J. (2023), "Simulating Strategic Adaptation", A Study of Risky Business Outcomes: Adapting to Strategic Disruption (Emerald Studies in Global Strategic Responsiveness), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 99-119.



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Copyright © 2023 Torben Juul Andersen