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Strategic Resource Allocation: Top-Down, Bottom-Up, and the Value of Strategic Buckets

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  • Jeremy Hutchison-Krupat

    (Darden School of Business, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia 22903)

  • Stylianos Kavadias

    (Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 1AG, United Kingdom)

Abstract

When senior managers make the critical decision of whether to assign resources to a strategic initiative, they have less precise initiative-specific information than project managers who execute such initiatives. Senior management chooses between a decision process that dictates the resource level (top-down) and one that delegates the resource decision and gives up control in favor of more precise information (bottom-up). We investigate this choice and vary the amount of information asymmetry between stakeholders, the “penalty for failure” imposed upon project managers, and how challenging the initiative is for the firm. We find that no single decision process is the “best.” Bottom-up processes are beneficial for more challenging initiatives. Increased organizational penalties may prompt the firm to choose a narrower scope and deter the approval of profitable initiatives. Such penalties, however, enable an effective decision process known as “strategic buckets” that holds the potential to achieve first-best resource allocation levels. This paper was accepted by Kamalini Ramdas, entrepreneurship and innovation.

Suggested Citation

  • Jeremy Hutchison-Krupat & Stylianos Kavadias, 2015. "Strategic Resource Allocation: Top-Down, Bottom-Up, and the Value of Strategic Buckets," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 61(2), pages 391-412, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:61:y:2015:i:2:p:391-412
    DOI: 10.1287/mnsc.2013.1861
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    1. Barbara Ribeiro & James A. Turner, 2021. "Sustainability Buckets: A Flexible Heuristic for Facilitating Strategic Investment on Place-Dependent Sustainability Narratives," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(16), pages 1-18, August.
    2. Alexandre Belloni & Giuseppe Lopomo & Shouqiang Wang, 2017. "Resource Allocation Under Demand Uncertainty and Private Information," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 63(12), pages 4219-4235, December.
    3. Stylianos Kavadias & Karl T. Ulrich, 2020. "Innovation and New Product Development: Reflections and Insights from the Research Published in the First 20 Years of Manufacturing & Service Operations Management," Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, INFORMS, vol. 22(1), pages 84-92, January.
    4. Svenja C. Sommer & Elliot Bendoly & Stylianos Kavadias, 2020. "How Do You Search for the Best Alternative? Experimental Evidence on Search Strategies to Solve Complex Problems," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 66(3), pages 1395-1420, March.
    5. Jochen Schlapp & Nektarios Oraiopoulos & Vincent Mak, 2015. "Resource Allocation Decisions Under Imperfect Evaluation and Organizational Dynamics," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 61(9), pages 2139-2159, September.

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