Designing lobbying capabilities: managerial choices in unpredictable environments

Lawton, Thomas and Rajwani, Tazeeb (2011). Designing lobbying capabilities: managerial choices in unpredictable environments. European Business Review, 23(2) pp. 167–189.




Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore how, in unpredictable policy environments, specific managerial choices play a vital role in designing lobbying capabilities through the choice of levels of investment in human capital, network relationships and structural modification.

Design/methodology/approach – Using an inductive case study approach, data were collected through 42 in-depth, semi-structured interviews and documented archival data. Cross-case pattern sequencing was used to construct an interpretive model of lobbying capability design. Data were framed by the dynamic resource-based theory of the firm.

Findings – Heterogeneous lobbying capabilities are adapted differently in private and state-owned airlines as a result of diverse ownership structures and time compositions that interplay with organizational processes. The result is a divergence between private- and state-owned airlines in how they engage with governmental actors and policies.

Research limitations/implications – The paper contributes to ongoing discourse in and between the dynamic capabilities and corporate political activity literatures, particularly on how state/non-state-owned airlines design their political lobbying capabilities. The research is limited in so far as it only studies the European airline industry.

Originality/value – The paper illustrates how a specific and far-reaching unanticipated external policy stimulus (the 9/11 terrorist attacks) impacted on management choices for lobbying design in the European airline industry

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