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Strategic retail location decision-making under uncertainty: an application of complexity theory in the Greek retailing sector

Theodoridis, Constantinos (2014) Strategic retail location decision-making under uncertainty: an application of complexity theory in the Greek retailing sector. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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The rapid environmental changes, high levels of uncertainty and difficulty in understanding these situations, make recession a uniquely challenging time for SMEs, particularly with respect to their strategic decision-making. This is especially true for retail SMEs: at the end of the supply chain, they are dependent on consumer buying power. Strategic decision-making in retail SMEs, notably location and expansion decisions, are under-researched, though there is evidence that such decisions are subjective, more an art than a science. These two elements, strategic decision making in SMEs and the context of recession are the focus and contribution of this thesis: the aim of the research was to compile a theoretical framework to portray the emergence of retail location strategies in recession. The research is underpinned by the theoretical domains of strategic location decision-making under the umbrella of complexity theory. The research comprises two case studies of SME electrical retailers in Greece. Pre-recession, these retailers had established track records of aggressive locational expansion and so the impact of the turbulence that accompanied the Greek recession made them ideal exemplar cases for this study. The data collection comprised observation, informal conversations, key informant interviews and focus groups. A thematic analysis approach was taken to the coding, organisation and reporting of the results. The results demonstrate how strategy development is supported by emerging organisational structures, including informal and opportunistic networks that facilitate the diffusion of tacit and explicit knowledge. These networks provide a friendly and supportive environment in which decision-makers are supported in their development of project-specific schemes. Thus this research contributes to understanding the locational decision process, successful locational strategy and strategic development in periods of instability and confusion.

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