Strategising for Resilience
The term “resilience” is used to describe aspects of businesses that are able to withstand potentially destructive changes in the commercial environment in which they operate. Few studies have investigated the ability that some firms have not just to endure disturbance, but to buck market trends and improve, grow and capitalise on potentially destructive change. This thesis aims to elaborate our existing understanding by contributing empirical knowledge on resilient firms through the examination of the research questions: In the context of the New Zealand Manufacturing sector during the Global Financial Crisis, what contributes to resilience in firms? And, do dynamic capabilities play a role in the resilience of firms? To address the identified gap in the literature, this research analysed the strategies of seventeen New Zealand manufacturing firms during the Global Financial Crisis utilising a qualitative, case study approach. Teece’s (2007) Sensing, Seizing and Transformation dynamic capabilities framework was used to analyse and categorise the firms’ actions. The findings confirm some, but also refute other, pre-existing assumptions and understandings regarding the resilience of firms that are offered by the prevailing literature. This thesis contributes to the field of theory by offering evidence for five propositions that extend the existing resilience literature. These are: first, that the dynamic capabilities framework provides a useful means through which to examine the resilience of firms; second, resilient firms appear to have bundles of dynamic capabilities that provide resilience when present; third, certain capabilities appear to be necessary but not sufficient to create resilience; fourth, capabilities that enable firms to generate additional efficiency and margin appear to be among the most valuable in the creation of resilience, and fifth, capabilities that increase the ‘volume’ of knowledge, and improve the flow of, and access to, knowledge within a firm also appear to be among the most valuable for creating resilience. This examination of the concept of resilience presents new perspectives on why some firms perform better during crises, and how advantage is created and maintained when the environment generates barriers to performance. The results progress resilience as an emerging concept in the strategic management literature in two ways: first, the addition of empirical evidence extends and elaborates current theory regarding what constitutes resilient action in firms; and second, the results highlight the strengths and weaknesses of applying a dynamic capabilities framework to explore strategic management concepts.