Strategic decisions in turbulent times: lessons from the energy industry

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Most of the firms currently in the S&P 500 will probably not be part of this list in 15 years. In times of great uncertainty managers are called to make the right choices in their strategy, they are asked to preserve the core businesses, and to prepare their organizations for an unclear future. How can managers make the right choices when the whole industry is under transformation? In this light, we explore how the popular VUCA framework can help to make sense of turbulent contexts and drive the decision-making of managers. We study the case of the energy industry, where, in a short period of time, traditional business models eroded, and dominant players lost their positions in the industry. Based on personal interviews with the CEOs from RWE (Germany) and NRG (USA) we analyze how they led the transformation of their organizations. We get immersed in their decision-making processes and depict how the VUCA framework help them to identify, map and prepare their organizations to respond to the volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity in their industry. We propose a guide for executive managers to navigate through VUCA contexts, taking into account the necessity to introduce short and long-term responses that prepare organizations and stakeholders for an uncertain future.
JournalBusiness Horizons
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Dec 2018