|dc.description.abstract||This dissertation enhances existing understanding of the role of self-reinforcing mechanisms as driving forces of organizational path dependence and thus limiting factors for organizational adaptation. In this way, the dissertation sheds light on the underlying dynamics of scale, complementary, learning, coordination, and expectation effects that keep organizations on a once entered development path.
To investigate the specific development of six German utility companies between the liberalization of the German energy market in 1999, and 2015, this dissertation applies a multiple-case study approach to empirically uncover the self-reinforcing mechanisms’ modes of action in replicating existing activity patterns and thus shaping firms’ development paths.
Thereby, this dissertation contributes to the understanding of self-reinforcing mechanisms in three respects. First, it advances understanding of the underlying dynamics of self-reinforcing mechanisms by adding new dimensions to conceptions of learning, coordination, and expectation effects and providing in-depth explanations for their stabilizing effects. Second, this dissertation enhances a differentiated view on self-reinforcing mechanisms while offering empirical evidence that these effects not only have a limiting influence but might also facilitate organizational adaptation in certain contextual settings. Third, this dissertation contributes to an understanding of the role of managerial agency while empirically substantiating that agency matters, even in a state of path dependence.
Accordingly, this dissertation proposes a reconceptualization of the classic theory of organizational path dependence in a less deterministic manner, placing greater emphasis on the role and influence of corporate actors in breaking existing paths. Indeed, this dissertation strongly suggests that the driving forces of path dependence should be understood as temporal influencing factors on firms’ strategic initiatives that appear to have either a widening or a limiting effect on the scope of alternatives, and which can consciously be overcome.
Besides its contributions to theory, this dissertation provides concrete practical guidance for managers to increase their awareness and to counteract those stabilizing influencing factors in the context of strategic decision making.||en