Thomas Lawton is Professor of Strategy and International Business and Head of the Department of Strategy and Entrepreneurship at Surrey Business School.
Professor Lawton is a leading global authority on nonmarket strategy (the pursuit of strategic goals through political and social engagement and leverage), particularly in the domain of corporate political activity (CPA), and a prominent voice on business-government relations, stakeholder engagement, and the advancement of research, management practice, and public policy in this field. He also undertakes research on business model innovation, particularly during corporate turnaround or when entering international markets. Since the early 1990s, Professor Lawton’s work has explored and advanced our understanding of how the firm competes beyond market settings, partnering with government in industrial policy initiatives, engaging external stakeholders through intermediaries such as trade associations, and managing and mitigating political risk when entering and embedding in foreign markets, particularly emerging economies. He has been awarded Newton Fund and British Academy/Leverhulme funding to investigate how companies design and develop nonmarket capabilities, and to undertake a pilot study on the role of multinationals in institution building in Africa’s Great Lakes region.
Professor Lawton is Associate Editor of the highly ranked strategy journal, Long Range Planning, and he has published in journals including Academy of Management Perspectives, Global Strategy Journal, International Business Review, International Journal of Management Reviews, Journal of International Management, Journal of Management Inquiry, Journal of World Business, Long Range Planning, Management International Review, and Strategic Organization. He is the author or editor of 8 books, including Strange Power and Strategic Management in Aviation. His best known, Breakout Strategy: Meeting the challenge of double-digit growth, was translated into Japanese by Nikkei and widely commended for its global focus and relevance to practicing managers and aspiring leaders. His most recent books are Aligning for Advantage: Competitive strategies for the political and social arenas (Oxford University Press, 2014), and The Routledge Companion to Non-Market Strategy (Routledge, 2015). He is also the Strategy Matters Series Editor for Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group).
Thomas is Visiting Professor of Business Administration at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth in the U.S.A., an Associate at the Møller Institute, Churchill College, University of Cambridge, and Fellow of the Royal Society for the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. He holds degrees from University College Cork and the London School of Economics and Political Science, and he has a doctorate in Political Science from the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. He has held visiting and full faculty positions at Cranfield University, EMLYON Business School, Imperial College London, INSEAD, Open University Business School, Royal Holloway University of London, and the University of California at Berkeley. Thomas has more than two decades of international business engagement experience, serving as a company non-executive director, consultant, and executive education facilitator. He has worked with entrepreneurs, managers, and business leaders around the world to develop and enhance their strategic thinking and practice.
Takes a strategic management approach to a company's engagement with political, regulatory and social arenas and interests
Develops a conceptual framework and managerial process for designing and delivering successful nonmarket strategies
Compares and synthesizes nonmarket strategy best practices in a variety of company and country contexts.
Advances an argument and logic for aligning nonmarket and market strategies to deliver competitive advantage
Argues that regulatory and responsibility departments in companies should be functionally integrated and managerially elevated to ensure that the nonmarket environment is engaged at a strategic level in business organizations
It is commonplace for today?s transnational enterprises to undertake political risk analysis when choosing foreign markets and creating entry strategies. Despite this, non-market elements of corporate strategy are less well researched than the traditional market-based perspectives.
Providing comprehensive and leading edge overviews of current scholarship, this Companion surveys the current state of the field and provides a basis for improving our understanding of the non-market environment, encouraging new insights to improve strategies for enhancing a firm?s performance and legitimacy.
With a foreword by David Baron, the international team of contributors includes Jean-Philippe Bonardi, Bennet Zelner, and Jonathan Doh, who combine to create a book that is essential reading for students and researchers in business, management, and politics, including those interested in business regulation, environmental policy, political risk and corporate social responsibility.
Research summary: We analyze how a host market?s institutional context can influence an MNE?s senior management?s choice and deployment of corporate political activity (CPA). First, we argue that a non-engaged approach to CPA is likely to be chosen when senior management perceives high host-country political risk, arising not only from host-country political institutions, but also from the distance between home and host-government relations. Second, we propose that the deployment of this approach can require active adaptation through four political strategies: low-visibility, ensuring a minimal degree of general attention from other actors; rapid-compliance, entailing high speed actions to obey the rules; reconfiguration, involving re-arranging the MNE?s structure and processes for competitiveness; and anticipation, implying the prediction of public policy and analysis of interest groups to anticipate responses.
Managerial summary: Senior managers of multinational enterprises (MNEs) often examine when and how to engage, or not to engage, with host governments. We argue that senior managers are likely to choose to evade engagement with a host government when they perceive high host-country political risk, not only through public political risk ratings, but also via their home and host-government relations. We show that this choice can require senior managers to lead active adaptation through four strategies: low-visibility, enabling the MNE to operate under the radar of host governments; rapid-compliance, entailing high speed actions to obey the rules; reconfiguration, involving re-arranging the MNE?s structure and processes for competitiveness; and anticipation, implying the prediction of public policy and analysis of interest groups to anticipate responses.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This paper aims to illustrate how legacy airlines can reorientate to achieve sharp recoveries in performance following prolonged periods of stagnation, decline and eroding competitiveness.
The authors use a qualitative analysis of five longitudinal case studies of legacy airlines that embarked on strategic change between 1997 and 2006. Data collection spanned ten years and included archival data, public documents, news clippings, accounts in specialist books and internal company documentation.
The paper identifies two distinct approaches for reorientation in the legacy airline industry. Companies that have fallen behind and are in risk of failure focus on regaining customer trust and loyalty, and restructuring route networks, business processes and costs in an ?improvement and innovation? reorienting approach. Underperforming airlines, for whom growth has declined in traditional markets and who note that opportunities exist elsewhere, focus on product and service development and geographical growth in an ?extension and expansion? reorienting approach.
The paper develops a framework for successful reorientation in the legacy airline industry. This framework encourages executives to focus on and leverage profit maximization, quality, leadership, alliance networks, regional consolidation and staff development during periods of strategy formulation and reorientation.
This research addresses the dearth of understanding and attention afforded to the concept of reorientation in the literature on strategic turnaround. The research also serves to emphasize the presence and importance of reorientation as a strategy of change within the legacy airline industry. Furthermore, in demonstrating how this strategy can be implemented in a sharp?bending or performance improvement context, this study illustrates how reorientation is intertwined with the broader turnaround process.