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Perceived environmental uncertainty : understanding the implications for strategy development processes across Barclays Plc

By Jansen Ryder


The managerial issue being addressed in this research is perceived environmental uncertainty (experienced by corporate strategists) and its implications for strategy development processes at the strategic business unit level (or business-level strategy) across Barclays Bank PLC. The objectives of the research are achieved through: an extensive review of the strategy and uncertainty literature (Project 1); a series of semi-structured interviews with fifteen members of the Group Executive Committee at Barclays (Project 2); and the completion of 731 selfadministered questionnaires covering the seventeen strategic business units within the Barclays portfolio (Project 3). Through its findings, this research concludes that any link between perceived environmental uncertainty (at the corporate level) and strategy development processes (at the business unit level) across the Barclays portfolio is largely irrelevant. Strategists at Barclays are concerned mainly with the maximisation of shareholder value and concepts such as uncertainty, change and complexity are not within the managerial lexicon. Based on this observation, strategy development at Barclays does not involve a carefully managed reciprocal relationship between the firm and its environment, or a skilfully manipulated balance of the degree of change and the level of complexity with which the organisation is deemed able to cope. Strategy development involves the dedicated and ruthless stewardship of a highly successful and resilient business model that could not fail within the economic environment experienced during the period of this research (1999–2005). Consequently, the Bank’s strategic capability (e.g. people) and assets (e.g. brand and technology) are geared towards protecting and developing the business model, or in simpler managerial terms, ‘defending the money-printing machine’

Publisher: Cranfield University
Year: 2005
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Cranfield CERES

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