Orchestrated stakeholder dialogue: its place in dynamic capability theory and its practical value for business

Astley, Marcus (2015) Orchestrated stakeholder dialogue: its place in dynamic capability theory and its practical value for business. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


Dynamic capabilities have been widely discussed in the academic literature for over twenty years. Yet there remains a lack of consensus or conceptual clarity on a common definition. The priority for researchers is therefore to pursue further theoretical development of the concept. In addition, most empirical research to date has been based on quantitative research. Qualitative, granular treatment of the topic has been encouraged (see p.44). Accordingly, in this thesis, the data from the main study was collected from in-depth interviews with change consultants, and the emerging theory was tested in a follow-up study using further interviews with case study participants.

The data from both studies was analysed using a grounded theory approach. The emergent and flexible nature of grounded theory complements the use of semi-structured interview questions, because both grounded theory and semi-structured interviews facilitate the drilling down into, and the microscopic exploration of, those data which are of greatest interest.

I identify a phenomenon in the primary data from the main study, which I call ‘orchestrated stakeholder dialogue’– the purposeful orchestration of dialogue amongst the organisation’s stakeholders. Some empirical examples of this phenomenon are presented. The follow-up study further examines the phenomenon of orchestrated stakeholder dialogue in order to explore: 1) the relationship of this phenomenon to dynamic capability theory; 2) the context of the phenomenon; 3) how it is deployed; and 4) its potential for securing sustainable competitive advantage. The thesis uses an instrumental reading of stakeholder theory in order better to depict and locate orchestrated stakeholder dialogue in relation to the organisation’s traditional boundaries.

I conclude that the phenomenon of orchestrated stakeholder dialogue is a foundational, underlying component of the dynamic capabilities concept, which underpins all dynamic capabilities. The identification of orchestrated stakeholder dialogue represents a significant step in developing a conceptual theory of dynamic capability in which dialogue is a consistent component. Further research could build on this advance in dynamic capabilities theory.

The detailed depiction of orchestrated stakeholder dialogue in the thesis also represents a significant empirical contribution for strategy as practice. The thesis offers two steps towards advancing the practical value of the concept of dynamic capabilities to practitioners: (i) the organisation is encouraged to use dialogue to map more fully the sources of value derived by particular stakeholders from their relationship with the organisation and its capability; and (ii) where possible, organisations must reconceive and reconfigure the relationships with stakeholders in order to accommodate and harness heterogeneous perceptions of value.

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