Adopting efficient consumer response: Innovative strategy diffusion in the grocery industry

                         Hoffman, Joyce McKinney; PhD

                         THE UNIVERSITY OF MEMPHIS, 1997
                         BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION, MANAGEMENT (0454)

                         This study of innovative strategy diffusion focuses on Efficient Consumers Response (ECR) as
                         experienced by the manufacturing sector of the distribution channel within the grocery industry. The
                         research is exploratory in its search for explanatory variables of the rationale employed by an organization
                         in the adoption diffusion process. The study is concerned with relationships within decision rationale and
                         subsequent implementation activities due to the decision rationale. Rationalistic view points as well as
                         inter-organizational influences of decision-making are considered. The rationalistic viewpoint is strategic
                         choice, a process by the decision coalition of an organization that is voluntary in choice and based on the
                         effectiveness and efficiencies of obtaining the organizational goals. The inter-organizational influence
                         perspective suggests that decisions are based on environmental factors both internal and external to the
                         organization including size, structure, political economy, competitor actions, and uncertainty of demand.
                         Inter-organizational influences are related to coercive forces as well as normative pressures. The
                         research has the following objectives; to determine the unique characteristics of the manufacturing
                         sector in its adoption decisions, to explore the theoretically founded and practitioner supported variables
                         explaining the variance of adoption and the subsequent level of infusion, and to explore additional
                         information specific to ECR and the Grocery Industry. A multiple case study methodology is used and the
                         analysis of the results follows exegetical techniques of hermeneutic phenomenology. The conclusions
                         of the findings re-emphasized innovation adoption theories and provides insight into organizational
                         theories of strategic choice rationale and environmental influences. The results were dichotomous with
                         the appearance of both extremes, strategic choice rationale and inter-organizational influence rationale.
                         In addition, the findings suggest that there are different sets of influencing variables for each
                         manufacturer and some organizations adopt ECR for proactive reasons while others are strictly reactive in
                         their adoption decisions and implementation. There is no question but that ECR is a relatively new
                         phenomenon and the entire Grocery Industry is well imbedded in the learning curve process.

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