Strategic decision-making in loosely coupled systems faced by high degrees of uncertainty and complexity Dutch universities coping with COVID-19

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Loosely coupled systems (LCS) tend to be rather flexible and adaptable. However, in practice it seemed that these organizations struggled to cope with high degrees of uncertainty and complexity caused by COVID-19. This research aims to identify important factors that affect the coordination process and resilience of LCS. This research is based on a deductive approach in which academic literature is found and tested by means of a case study consisting of six different cases within the Dutch educational sector. In total, four unstructured interviews and twelve semi-structured interviews were conducted. The short-term focus causes employees to use their autonomy and creativity to rapidly deal with the problems at hand. In the long-term, this prevents such organizations from adopting a collective approach. In order to regain some degrees of uniformity, LCS tend to shift towards centralized decision-making practices by means of crisis management teams. In order to downplay the consequences of COVID-19, employees started to undertake more exploratory activities resulting in a wide variety of new solutions. Normally, employees tend to stick to exploitative activities since the relatively stable environment barely challenges them to innovate. Last, findings indicate an important role for IT-systems to enhance cross communication and learning (Office365).
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen