Evidence Doesn't Argue for Itself: The Value of Disinterested Dialogue in Strategic Decision-Making


Long Range Planning

December 2015, vol. 48, n°6, pp.361-380

Departments: Strategy & Business Policy

Keywords: Analysis, Behavioral strategy, Disinterested dialogue, Evidence-based management, Strategic decision making

Previous studies of strategic decision-making have demonstrated a relationship between the strategic decision-making process and its effectiveness, namely whether the decision delivers the expected results. In this article, we demonstrate that there are two key dimensions of strategic decision-making: 1) the analysis performed, and particularly financial aspects of a decision; and 2) strategic conversations about the decision at hand, or the “disinterested dialogue” about the decision, as we refer to it. Whereas, it is well-accepted that a robust analysis is important for effective decisions, we argue that disinterested dialogue is also a necessary construct in explaining the effectiveness of strategic decisions. To test this hypothesis, we undertook a study of 634 strategic decisions made by executives across multiple industries and regions. The results confirmed that both a robust analysis and disinterested dialogue have a significant positive relationship with decision-making effectiveness. However, disinterested dialogue has a significantly greater impact on the effectiveness of strategic decisions than robustness of analysis. We discuss the impact of our results for theory and practice.