An inside job. How employees sell issues within an Dutch familiy business

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By directing others’ attention to and understanding of particular issues - issue selling - employees can influence the strategic agendas and actions of organizations. By doing so, issue sellers improve decision-making processes in organizations and thereby contribute to emergent organizational change and organizational adaptation. Current understanding of the issue selling process is largely based on research within large bureaucratic organizations. Smaller and more informal organizations have different organizational contexts, which may influence the issue selling process. This study focused on family businesses, since they have unique characteristics that may influence the issue selling process and are very prevalent in the Netherlands. The research question central to this study was: How does the issue selling process within a Dutch family business unfold? The study employed both practice- and resourcing perspectives on issue selling, by focusing on the moves used by issue sellers during issue selling attempts and investigating on which assets issue sellers based the selection of these moves. The research question was answered through qualitative methods, by conducting observations and semi-structured interviews within a single Dutch family business. The results show that the issue selling process consists of five stages: (1) the becoming of an issue, (2) preparation of the issue selling attempt, (3) the actual selling of the issue, (4) the reaction of the issue recipient(s), and (5) outcome of the issue selling attempt. The analysis also identified aspects of the organizational context that either enable or hinder issue selling and highlights how issues arise within organizations. Furthermore, issue selling within the family business was not only a bottom-up, but also a top-down process in which (senior) managers sold issues to organizational members lower in the organizational hierarchy.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen