3. Research Hypothesis and Questions
From the previous literature review, the potential intended strategic approaches to CSR outcomes have been determined and linked to capabilities and strategic focus.
The benefits and outcomes of addressing environmental responsibility and improvement are well documented and the threshold level of compliance to regulations and laws is determined as a prerequisite for business licence-to-operate.
The possibilities of gaps and surpluses in resources and capabilities, influencing choice and outcomes of strategic options have been linked as well.
To develop a best practice template that supports business managers to be more successful in strategy selection and implementation theoretical proposition has been developed:
Understanding the present status of CSR filter factors will enable managers to select more appropriate strategies and to develop plans for implementation to overcome threshold levels.
The rationale behind the hypothesis is that the present mental models form the CSR filters that influence strategies for the future, and that these strategies most be formed to overcome the threshold levels.
Leadership is seen as the driver of strategic intent and innovative leadership capabilities as the mean for creating innovative advantage or cooperation. It seems that leadership capabilities are both a mean and an end in successful CSR.
The dilemma with leadership as both mean and end seems to be solved if they are given the tools that support creation of future strategic scenarios based on knowledge of best practice options that are more suitable to different competitive strategies, feasible according to constraints and acceptable to stakeholders.
To highlight those aspects where this research will provide industry specific insights, two specific research hypotheses are created subsequently to enable formulation of research questions that support the fulfilment of the research objective.
3.1 Strategy Development and Selection
The sense making process was determined in the literature review to be the foundation for establishing a shared understanding of current position among stakeholders.
The ability to understand the current set of assessment filter-parameters and connections between threshold levels and competitive strategies was seen to allow management to address sustainable value creation towards both shareholders and stakeholders (figure 11).
An apparent issue is if business drives changes or reacts to changes concerning environmental sustainability in society and the Danish concrete industry.
A research hypothesis that helps to test and determine the relationship between more interdependent factors in the CSR filters and their influence on strategic intent is developed:
(1) Vision, mission and strategic intent are heavily influenced by the competitive forces and motives in the sense making process.
Research questions that test research hypothesis 1 are determined to be:
1 a) Do differences in industry competitive attractiveness strongly influence stakeholder focus?
1 b) Do competitive or cooperative motives strongly influence the strategic intent?
1 c ) Do different levels of internationalisation strongly influence strategic intent?
1 d) Do positions in the value network strongly influence strategic intent?
1 e) Do different generic competitive strategies strongly influence strategic intent?
1 f) Do different levels of competence utilization strongly influence strategic intent?
3.2 Strategy Implementation
Innovative capabilities and competences were determined in the literature review to be the foundation for achieving CSR outcomes.
The capabilities needed are built according to the threshold level in individual companies where the strategic intent determines the distinct capabilities (“need to play” or “need to win”: figure 14). If gaps occur in innovative capabilities, investments or resource allocation are needed to close the gap.
An apparent issue is how to promote investment and resource allocation in intangible CSR initiatives to increase value creation (figure 15), in the Danish concrete industry where tangible bottom lines, investment in physical assets and cost allocation of resources by hourly rates are the dominant management focus.
A research hypothesis that helps to test and determine relationships between more interdependent factors in the CSR filters and their influence on successful strategy implementation is developed:
(2) Outcomes of strategic intent are heavily influenced by allocation of investments, resources and performance management practice.
Research questions that test the lead hypothesis are determined to be:
2 a) Do priorities of industry Key Success Factors strongly influence outcomes?
2 b) Do differences in the present capabilities strongly influence outcomes?
2 c) Do differences in the strategic focus areas strongly influence outcomes?
2 d) Do differences in Quality and Performance Management strongly influence outcomes?
Table 2 in appendix 4 “Field Research Structure” illustrates the hypothesis and research question structure.
3.3 Importance of Research
Identifying resistors to change (priorities and perceptions) is important as the best practice template is to secure successful implementation of a CSR strategy. This can perhaps be accomplished by creating change drivers that reduce the restraining forces.
Comparing the suitability, feasibility and acceptability interdependence (1.1.2) to the research hypotheses and questions there seems to be a plausible and coherent explanation for expecting a primary data output that will secure achievement of the research objectives stated in 1.1.2.