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Successful turnarounds: the role of appropriate entrepreneurial strategies

Sunitha Panicker (Christ University, Bangalore, India)
Mathew J. Manimala (Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, India)

Journal of Strategy and Management

ISSN: 1755-425X

Article publication date: 16 February 2015




The purpose of this paper is to report on a research study aimed at comparing the causes of organisational decline and turnaround strategies involved in cases of successful and unsuccessful turnarounds, with a view to identifying the differences, if any, between the two groups, which in turn is expected to provide useful information to academics, practitioners and policy makers.


Since turnaround is a business phenomenon of general interest, their stories are often published in business periodicals, which are a rich source of data on them. In order to tap this data source, the present paper employed a method of content analysis for the proposed investigation on the cause of organisational decline and turnaround strategies used. In order to quantify the data, a three-point scale was developed, where the presence of a cause/strategy is rated as “3”, its ambivalence as “2” and its absence as “1”, whose validity was assessed through the inter-rater agreement indices. The data thus generated are amenable to statistical analyses, using which the more commonly prevalent causes of organisational decline and the strategies commonly employed for turnaround by the successful and unsuccessful companies are identified.


The findings of the present study have generated a few useful insights. First, the primary causes for organisational decline are the internal weaknesses of the organisation; in fact the external changes can adversely affect the organisation only if it is internally weak. Second, organisational decline caused by multiple factors (which is usually the case) can be managed effectively by adopting a variety of strategies; hence a single-pronged strategy is often found to be ineffective. Third, the more successful turnarounds had a diverse portfolio of strategies including those of institution-building, often employed in a phased manner, consistent with the stage theories of turnaround.

Research limitations/implications

The limitations of this research arise mainly from the generation of data from published sources and the consequent biases, which can be managed, to a large extent, by using multiple sources for the same case for reducing the publishers’ biases as well as by having multiple raters for identifying the researcher’s biases, if any.


The study has highlighted the need for addressing the internal causes of organisational decline on a priority-basis rather than blaming the external factors, besides pointing to the need for adopting a variety of strategies for dealing with the diversity of causes affecting the organisation’s health, particularly the need for institutionalising the changes. These findings can be of help especially to turnaround managers and policy-makers in dealing with organisational decline and thus contribute to the creation and enhancement of economic value.



This paper was presented at the 10th International Entrepreneurship Forum (IEF) Conference on Entrepreneurship and Society: Creating Social, Economic, Cultural and Personal Value, Bahrain: 9-11 January 2011, and was later published as a Working Paper of the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore, India.


Panicker, S. and Manimala, M.J. (2015), "Successful turnarounds: the role of appropriate entrepreneurial strategies", Journal of Strategy and Management, Vol. 8 No. 1, pp. 21-40.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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