Opportunizing: A classic grounded theory study on business and management

Ólavur Christiansen

Abstract

Opportunizing emerged as the core variable of this classic
GT study on business and management. Opportunizing is the
recurrent main concern that businesses have to continually
resolve, and it explains how companies recurrently create,
identify, seize or exploit situations to maintain their growth or
survival. Opportunizing is the recurrent creation and re-creation
of opportunities in business. Opportunizing is basically what
business managers do and do all the time. The problematic
nature of opportunizing is resolved by a core social process of
opportunizing and its attached sub-processes that account for
change over time and for the variations of the problematic nature
of its resolution.

Opportunizing has five main facets. These are conditional
befriending
(confidence building & modifying behavior),
prospecting (e.g. information gaining), weighing up (information
appraisal & decision-making), moment capturing (quick
intervention for seizing strategic opportunities), and
configuration matching (adjusting the business organization to
abet the other activities of opportunizing).

On a more abstract level, opportunizing has three more
organizational facets: the physically boundary-less, the valuehierarchical,
and the physically bounded. The first of these called
perpetual opportunizing. This emerges from the conjunction of
conditional befriending and prospecting. The second facet is
called triggering opportunizing. It arises from the coming
together of weighing up and moment capturing. The final facet is
called spasmodic opportunizing. This happens when moment
capturing and configuration matching unite.

Thus, the tree facets of opportunizing are sub-core variables,
while the five facets of opportunizing are sub-sub-core variables.
The five facets can also be seen as stages of the core process of
opportunizing
. Yet, they are more than stages, because weighing
up is involved throughout.

Each of the five facets of opportunizing also attach to subprocesses
that account for the resolving of still more tangible
dimensions of opportunizing. For example, confidence building
and modifying behavior are two categories of conditional
befriending
. It is not possible to create opportunities in business
without modifying people’s behavior, but this latter is impossible
or difficult without confidence building. The model of
opportunizing will assist managers in focusing on the most
important and problematic. Practitioners will be able to adopt
and adapt the theory according to the variation in the data that
their individual contexts manifest.

Introduction

The methodology used in this research is the set of
“classic” GT procedures that Dr. Barney Glaser originated in the
beginning of the 1960s and has maintained since (Glaser, 1978;
1992; 1998; 2001; 2003; 2005). It will be assumed that the reader
is familiar with this methodology and its terminology (i.e.
conceptual levels, substantive concepts and theoretical codes,
types of theoretical codes such as basic social process, basic social
condition, amplified causal looping, bias random walk, etc; the
distinction between a basic social structural and basic social
psychological process, and so forth). A few data incidences will be
used as examples to illustrate some of the building blocks of the
emergent theory. Literature comparisons will be delimited to just
a few.

The empirical data for this research were collected from a
theoretical sample of twelve small and middle-sized companies in
the Faroe Islands. Most of the data were qualitative and collected
by interviews with company managers, owners, board members
and employees. The research was sponsored by BP Amoco
Exploration LTD (Faroes). Dr. Andy Lowe was the author’s
methodological coach during the critical phases of the research.

The Core Variable of Opportunizing

The core variable that sums up the most important and the
most problematic for those being studied and explains most of the
variation in the data, is the concept of opportunizing. It is a new
English word, which has been created to capture the meaning of
this particular pattern. It is derived from the English word
“opportunity”. It is defined as “the recurrent creation and recreation
of “convenient occasions” [or “convenient” situations,
occurrences, moments, conditions, means, places, outcomes,
circumstances, combinations, junction of circumstances] for the
deliberate pursuit of competitive advantage in the business”.
Opportunizing could also be explained as “the recurrent seizing of
business opportunities” by the recurrent creation of actual out of
potential business opportunities. It explains how companies
recurrently create, identify, appraise, seize or exploit situations to
maintain their growth or survival. It sums up and explains the
main concern and its recurrent solution of those being studied.
Opportunizing emerged as the most clear and stable meaning
behind practically all emerging behavioral patterns, also patterns
that otherwise were very different. An important high level
property of opportunizing is “economizing” (i.e. applying the
principle of less action or less resistance or less waste) by
matching” and/or “economizing” by “influencing”.

In hindsight, it appears more or less self-evident that
opportunizing” or “the recurrent seizing of business opportunities
is a core variable in business. However, opportunizing is very
different from the “hard core” variables of all commonly accepted
theories of business and management. Some readers may be
familiar with most of these theories (e. g. neoclassical, game,
behaviorist, principal-agent, agency, transaction cost,
evolutionary, resource-based, complex systems, value-based,
quality pursuit). Yet, opportunizing does not undermine the
validity of these other theories or views as representations of
multiple realities of business. Instead, the theory of
opportunizing adds substance to these other views by adding
some new elements. These elements are e. g. the
conceptualization of the agenda of business leaders and the
importance of conceptual levels when explaining behavior.

The Main Dimensions of Opportunizing

The theory of opportunizing is best explained by first
explaining the five main dimensions of opportunizing: conditional
befriending, prospecting, weighing up, moment capturing and
configuration matching. As sub-sub-core variables, they reflect
five main dimensions of the main concern issue of opportunizing,
but they also attach to sub-processes that account for the
resolving of still more tangible dimensions of opportunizing.
Together with their lesser-level sub-dimensions (categories) they
account for most of the variation in the behavior. The five main
dimensions of opportunizing are the following:

Conditional befriending:

Creating business opportunities by
confidence building & modifying
people’s behavior

Prospecting:

Identifying business opportunities,
e.g. information gaining

Weighing up:

Appraising business opportunities
by information appraisal &
decision-making

Moment capturing:

Seizing of strategic business
opportunities when quick
intervention is critical for the
outcome

Configuration matching:

Exploiting business opportunities
by adjusting the current business
organization to abet the other
activities of opportunizing

These five dimensions emerged from the methodological
treatment of the data in the same sequence as they have been
mentioned. They were found to be exhaustive, i.e. to cover any
pattern of behavior found in the data.

Conditional befriending

The pattern of conditional befriending may be defined as offering
something on conditions or net preconditions that sustains the
competitive advantage of the business. Ultimately, it is about
modifying people’s behavior in such a manner that the company’s
survival or growth is sustained. These people, whose behavior it
is important to modify by incitement or prevention, are
employees, business partners, customers, suppliers, vendors and
other stakeholders. However, such behavior modification is
impossible or difficult if it is not based on the appropriate trust.
Consequently, in addition to modifying behavior, confidence
building (trust-building) is also a category of conditional
befriending. Most of the data incidences that indicated
conditional befriending were actually indicators of confidence
building. The data indicate that confidence building and hence
conditional befriending is a perpetually occurring activity in a
business.

Most of micro-economics is also about modification of
people’s behavior, and prices have an important role in this.
“Pricing” decisions are of course important for company revenue
and for modifying customer behavior. However, “pricing”
decisions did not emerge as problematic in the studied companies.
The more or less automatic forces of supply and demand give the
sufficient clues that are needed for “pricing” decisions.
Consequently, the “pricing” issue did not emerge as any direct
main concern issue. However, cost concern issues as well as
product and service feature issues were more problematic issues,
and they are related to “pricing”. Conceptually, they emerged as
different properties of opportunizing, e. g. “economizing”,
“matching” and “influencing”, and their resolutions are
conceptually explained by the five dimensions of opportunizing
and their sub-processes.

The pattern of conditional befriending was very frequently
indicated in the data as different varieties of “fostering
relationships” – and sometimes as “neglecting or terminating
relationships”. In many other classic grounded theory studies of
special business issues, similar “relationship concerns” have
emerged: “cultivating relationships” in a study by Simmons of the
milkman and his customers (1993, p. 4-31); the concepts of
“keeping clients in line”, “pseudo-friending”, “affiliating” (a
property of confidence building) and “obligating” (a property of
modifying behavior) in a study of veterinarian practices by
Guthrie (2000, p. 50-100); the core variable of “default remodeling
of relationships” that emerged in a study by Lowe (1998) of the
post-merger aftermath. In a study of re-humanizing knowledge
work through fluctuating support networks (Holton et al., 2006,
p. 4), the first two developmental stages of such support networks
were found to be “attracting” and “engaging”. These two concepts
are also properties of conditional befriending. Conditional
befriending is also reflected in the concept of “networking”
(Gummesson, 2002).

Prospecting

The pattern of prospecting may be defined as the
identification of business opportunities by e.g. gaining
information. Prospecting is made possible by modifying people’s
behavior (i.e. conditional befriending), but prospecting is also
necessary for conditional befriending. This means that
conditional befriending and prospecting are mutually dependent
and each other’s “spin-offs”. This dependency of conditional
befriending (confidence building & modifying behavior) also
means that prospecting in one form or another is a perpetually
occurring activity in a business.

Information gaining starts as predetermined searching that
occasionally leads to genuine-original information gaining. Thus,
the two categories of prospecting are predetermined prospecting
and genuine-original prospecting. Serendipity is a property of the
latter. A few data incidences can illustrate the concepts.
Indicated or implied concepts are mentioned in brackets:

We keep a large part of our large financial assets liquid.
Part of the explanation for this is that we are interested
in attracting potential partners for investment. They
know it. We prefer that they come to us. They bring
knowledge to us. Yet, we are very discriminative. We did
not go for…. [Configuration matching abetting confidence
building and modifying behavior that leads to
prospecting, (predetermined prospecting possibly leading
to genuine-original prospecting), weighing up.]

Our servicing of [Name of product] has been very
important in giving us contact to many businesses and to
learn more about them as our potential customers for
other products. They are really many. The “spin-offs” of
this product has been very important in the generation of
the present net worth of the company. [Accumulated
outcome of configuration matching abetting conditional
befriending and prospecting (predetermined and genuineoriginal).]

Weighing up

The pattern of weighing up is different from the other four
dimensions of opportunizing, because weighing up is involved in
any act of opportunizing. This means that all the other four
dimensions of opportunizing are directly dependent on weighing
up. The data also indicate that the theoretical code of company
self-identity is in an overruling relationship to weighing up and
all categories of weighing up. This identity is indicated in some
unique characteristics in each company’s actual behavior. It
means some “path-dependency” for any company. It can be
explained metaphorically as some “weights” a priori have been
put on the “balance” – or that a priori some kinds of “weights”
will never be put on it. This difference becomes especially
noticeable for companies of similar size and within the same
industry. How this preconceiving or preconditioning in weighing
up is actually carried out is also different in different companies.
It may, for example, be indicated as differences in their actual
balancing or unbalancing of some paired opposite positions in
their prospecting and weighing up activities, as for example the
paired opposites of “immediate – distant future”, “inductive –
deductive”, “explicit – implicit”, “manifest – latent”, “informal –
formal”.

As mentioned, weighing up is defined as assessments of
business opportunities that take place as information appraisal
and it includes decision-making. What are being weighed up are
outcomes from prospecting. This means that prospecting leads to weighing
up. But like the other four dimensions of opportunizing, prospecting is also
directly dependent on weighing up, which indicates a straight mutual
dependency between weighing up and prospecting.

A distinction can be made between the categories of
weighing up according to the involvement of weighing up in the
four other dimensions of opportunizing. This means that there
are basically four categories of weighing up. Each of them is
attached to one of the four dimensions of opportunizing. These
categories are “weighing up for match/influence in conditional
befriending”, “weighing up for relevancy in prospecting”,
“weighing up before a moment capturing”, and “weighing up for
configuration matching”. A few data examples can illustrate
these four concepts:

During the final negotiations about the license, I was very
afraid that they would ask about my formal education
and training. I had only had 7 years in primary school.
They did not ask. They liked me. They only considered me
an ordinary joiner-carpenter with some uncommon
idiosyncrasies….. [Indicated or implied concept: weighing
up for match/influence in conditional befriending]

Weighing up for relevancy is prospecting” sometimes
involves that the “prospector is prospecting on the prospector”.
This indicates a linking to company identity. This kind of
weighing up is sometimes facilitated by use of advisors. The data
indicate that core foci in this kind of weighing up are “matching”
and “influencing”. The data also indicate a better performance of
companies where “weighing up for relevance in prospecting” spans
over and/or balances and allows interaction (inter-feeding) among
one or several paired opposites such as: “immediate – distant
future”, “inductive – deductive”, “explicit – implicit”, “manifest –
latent”, “informal – formal”. The category seems to be pivotal
among the categories (lesser-level concepts) of opportunizing.

It became a disaster for them. They thought it was close
to their logistics business, but what was to be stored and
processed were quite different from what they were
familiar with. They must have got some wrong
information about the quantities and when they could be
available, or in any case they have not been able to collect
and process this information properly. I know the people
that got them interested and maintained their
interests…… [Indicated or implied concepts: relevancy
derived from “matching”, weighing up for relevancy in
prospecting.]

We had a competitor in the vicinity using the same iron
fittings in a plastic product that we used in our wood
product. This factory went bankrupt, and was bought by
the bank. Of course, I was interested to buy. Now this
bank persuaded me to buy, but on their terms….
[Indicated or implied concept: weighing up before a
moment capturing.]

My next step was to make ready for the new production. I
got advice from a consultant, but I could not use it. It
would be far too expensive. I decided to rebuild the hall
myself with some hired people. It got it at a fraction of
what the consultant had calculated. This, of course, later
became very important for my competitive advantage….
[Some indicated or implied concepts: Configuration
matching, prospecting, weighing up for configuration
matching, act of configuration matching, configuration
matching abetting conditional befriending.]

Moment capturing

The pattern of moment capturing is defined as the spasmodic
seizure of strategic business opportunities where quick
intervention is critical for optimal outcome. The pattern of
spasmodic moment capturing occurs in all units and situations
where quick intervention is critical for optimal outcome. As a
concept of the theory of opportunizing, moment capturing is
limited to strategic events, but not just memorable events such as
mergers and acquisitions.

The data indicate that there is always a weighing up before a
moment capturing. As a strategic event, a moment capturing has
consequences for the business organization, and consequently, a
moment capturing leads to a configuration matching. This also
secures that any opportunity being created due to moment
capturing subsequently reaches its full potential.

While an event of moment capturing is spasmodically
occurring as a single point event, the concepts of moment
capturing also involves a process with some stages or categories.
Besides the single point event, two categories of moment
capturing emerged. Firstly, there is a perpetual awareness of the
moment capture concept that may affect weighing up
predispositions.

In 1971, when I was producing on small scale, I became
aware of some iron fittings that could revolutionize my
production. I tried to get a license for production, but the
local market was considered too small for production, and
they instead gave me the sole sales agency in the area for
the products with these fittings. This did not suit me
particularly well. I continued to pursue a license for my
own production. It took a long time and it was not easy.
Finally, I got it in 1975. [Some indicated or implied
concepts: genuine-original prospecting, weighing up,
perpetual awareness of moment capture concept, moment
capturing.]

Secondly, the data also indicate the significance of a
weighing up of weighing up regarding past moment captures that
also may affect weighing up predispositions.

He made some wrong decisions concerning investments in
hardware (buying used cheaply), unaware of the speed in
obsolescence nowadays. He also aimed at some wrong
people in management. It became a disaster for the
company…..We proceeded from that. [Some indicated or
implied concepts: moment capturing & weighing up of
weighing up, company identity issues.]

These two categories of moment capturing are closely related
to the categories of weighing up. The data also indicate that these
two categories, together with company identity, have an
overruling affect on weighing up predispositions. This means, on
the one hand, that moment capturing via these two categories is
closely related to weighing up. On the other hand, moment
capturing is also via its single point event closely related to
configuration matching.

Configuration matching

The pattern of configuration matching is defined as the
spasmodic adjustment or fitting of the tangible business
organization to facilitate the other activities of opportunizing.
This also means that configuration matching differs from the
other five dimensions of opportunizing because it attaches to a
basic social structural process. The other four facets of
opportunizing are attached to basic social psychological processes.

The accumulated outcome of configuration matching is the
tangible structure and organization of the business, within which
the other processes of opportunizing are abetted. The
accumulated outcome of configuration matching is thus a
structure for the recurrent exploitation of business opportunities.

Basically, configuration matching is the main concern and
the consecutive process of matching the internal organization of
the business to the organizations of suppliers, customers,
employees and/or strategic partners. The social structural process
of configuration matching is the spasmodic adjustment of this
structure by acts of configuration matching and by relying on
signs of matching/influencing in configuration matching. These
latter are the two categories of configuration matching.

Some Indicated Theoretical Codes

Each of the five dimensions of opportunizing can be
conceived as substantive concepts or main concern issues.
However, they can simultaneously be conceived as theoretical
codes that explain the resolving of these main concern issues.

Basic social processes

Conditional befriending and prospecting together with their
attached weighing up categories are perpetually activated in a
business. The event of moment capturing only occurs
spasmodically and the same applies for an event of configuration
matching. It has also to be taken into account that the
accumulated outcome of configuration matching in the form of the
physical structure and tangible organization of the business
upholds the other activities of opportunizing, which operate
“within” this structure. Configuration matching just means the
adjustment of this structure to abet these other activities of
opportunizing.

This means that one of the five dimensions of opportunizing,
configuration matching, is attached to a basic social structural
process. This process has three main sequential stages that form
a loop, and the stages are “act of configuration matching”, “signs
of matching/influencing in configuration matching” and
“weighing up for configuration matching”. This loop will be
explained later. Moment capturing can also be conceived as a
distinct theoretical code or a variety of a basic social
psychological process, and the same applies for weighing up.

Conditional befriending and prospecting can be conceived as
two closely related basic social psychological processes. Each of
them has three main sequential stages that also form a loop. The
stages of conditional befriending are “confidence building”,
“modifying behavior” and “weighing up for match/influence in
conditional befriending”. The stages of prospecting are
predetermined prospecting”, “genuine-original prospecting” and
weighing up for relevance in prospecting”. These two loops will be
explained later.

The five dimensions of opportunizing can also be conceived
as five stages of the core process of opportunizing, and this
process forms a loop. Inside this core process there are subprocesses
as loops, or loops within a loop. The stages of the
process may be sequential, but may also be simultaneous and
serendipitous. Starting with conditional befriending, the
sequence may be, but not necessarily, as follows: conditional
befriending, prospecting, weighing up before moment capturing,
moment capturing, configuration matching that abets conditional
befriending, conditional befriending, prospecting, and so forth. A
sequence may also surpass a moment capturing and be as follows:
conditional befriending, prospecting, weighing up for
configuration matching, configuration matching facilitating
conditional befriending or prospecting, conditional befriending,
prospecting, and so forth. Other sequences are, of course, also
possible.

Without being able to modify people’s behavior effectively, no
company can survive or grow. This is the dimension of
conditional befriending that also includes the category of
confidence building. However, the other four dimensions of
opportunizing can be considered as equally important. They are
also stages of the core process-loop, and achievements or lack of
achievements in one of the dimensions will affect the other
dimensions.

Amplified causal looping

The theoretical code of amplified causal looping is also
indicated in the data. Thus, as consequences continually become
causes and causes continually become consequences, one sees
either worsening deterioration or improving progression. The
data indicate that such a looping may become triggered by
confidence building directed towards key business partners or
towards the employees of the company. However, it cannot be
ruled out that amplified causal looping can be triggered
anywhere else in the model of opportunizing. Efficient
confidence building may lead to efficient behavior modification,
which in turn leads to efficient prospecting, which leads to
efficient weighing up, which leads to efficient moment captures,
(including bolstering of company identity), which leads to efficient
configuration matching, which then leads to efficient conditional
befriending, which leads to efficient prospecting, and so forth. If
the looping is triggered by “negative” confidence building, the
outcome may be worsening deterioration instead of improving
progression. Here are some illustrative data incidences (indicated
or implied concepts in brackets):

The founder of this trading and fishing company started
his business by buying a fishing ship [moment capturing]
in partnership [“saming” in confidence building] with a
captain with a very good fishing and management record
[“distinguishing” in confidence building that affects
modifying behavior that affects prospecting & weighing
up], and the captain was closely related to the founder
[“saming” in confidence building]. The founder’s wife had
good insight into business and was his closest advisor
[“saming” and “distinguishing” in confidence building
that affects modifying behavior that affects prospecting &
weighing up]. The ship was chosen selectively
[prospecting & weighing up] and was better suited and
equipped than similar ships [configuration matching].
The profits were high, also because good crews are
attracted to good fishing captains and good ships
[configuration matching that affects conditional
befriending (confidence building & modifying behavior)].
He repeatedly did the same again in partnerships with
different other captains with good fishing and
management records and became the owner or co-owner
of a large fleet. [Amplified causal looping: efficiency in
conditional befriending, prospecting, weighing up,
moment capturing and configuration matching]. He also
diversified successfully……

The PDCA-cycle as a basic social process

Before the basic social processes of configuration matching,
conditional befriending and prospecting are explained, it may be
helpful to explain a theoretical code that connects their respective
categories. This is the PDCA-cycle “or Plan-Do-Check-Act” cycle.
It is not among the theoretical codes that are listed by Glaser
(Glaser 1978, pp. 73-82; Glaser 1998, pp.170-175; Glaser 2005,
pp. 7-30). The PDCA-cycle has been emphasized in quality
management activities where people are confronted with
successive data outcomes, and in investigating, learning,
continuous improvement, or innovation activities. Its four stages
have been explained as follows by Deming (1993, p. 135): “PLAN:
Plan a change or test, aimed at improvement. DO: Carry out the
change or test (preferable on a small scale). CHECK: Study the
results. What did we learn? What went wrong? ACT: Adopt the
change, or abandon it, or run through the cycle again, i.e. return
to PLAN.” The importance of being consciously aware of all the
stages of this loop has been stressed, as well as the importance of
not skipping lightly over any of the stages, and especially not the
“ACT” and “PLAN” stage. Even though it may appear to be
natural, effortless and innate to follow the steps of the PDCAloop,
it can be just as natural, effortless and innate to not be
consciously aware of the PDCA-cycle or its stages, or to put less
or different emphasis on some of its stages. This innateness
therefore justifies its conception as a theoretical code, and as a
theoretical code it also fulfils the requirement of being a basic
social process (Glaser, 1978, pp.100-102).

The use of the PDCA-cycle is also a question about using
induction, deduction or inductive-deductive balance for increasing
the efficiency of a task. Without some minimum of both, no
activity is possible, yet the balance between them may be very
different in different contexts. This balancing may be different for
different people, and it may be dependent on company culture or
identity. One manager relies on an MBA for logical deductions
regarding expansion plans, using the three dimensions of “old or
new customers”, “new or existing products/tasks” and “new or
existing employees”. In another company in the same industry,
the manager takes a very different perspective and puts more
emphasis on induction:

As a manager, I always start collecting information from
where I am positioned at the moment. This means, based
on the previous information that I have. And each time I
gain more information, I will combine it with what I know
so far for obtaining the best use of it for my next decision.
This allows me to achieve a more advanced position each
time. I learned this in working with practical technology
(error-testing), and I use it in my management of people
as well as in partnerships and relationships to customers.

A more definite interpretation of the stages of the cycle with
regard to induction and deduction is as follows: The DO stage of
the PDCA-cycle seems to be entirely neutral regarding induction
or deduction. It is just an execution stage subsequent to the
PLAN stage. The CHECK stage of the PDCA-cycle is a stage of
immediate prospecting and seems to give unlimited room for both
deductive and inductive reasoning. Hence, it can also be
conceived as neutral with regard to induction and deduction. The
ACT stage of the PDCA-cycle may be the major stage of
induction. This is the stage where decision is made regarding “a
test’s” consequences for a “hypothesis” or for a “theory” that has
been deduced a priori. This is a stage where deductive reasoning
coincides with inductive reasoning and where even deductive
mindsets in a sense become inductive. Thus, in a sense, use of
induction is forced into this stage, and it is also a stage of
weighing up. The PLAN stage of the PDCA-cycle may be the
major stage of deduction. It is positioned before the DO stage, and
PLAN in anticipation of DO without some logical deduction for
prediction regarding possible outcomes seems less likely at this
stage. Thus, in a sense, deduction is forced into this stage, and it
is also a stage of weighing up. This means that the ACT & PLAN
stages are also stages of weighing up. This means that the PDCAcycle
also can be conceived as a three main-stage cycle of DO,
CHECK and WEIGHING UP.

Three Types of Opportunizing

The close connectedness between the perpetual occurring
processes of conditional befriending and prospecting has been
explained. Similarly, the close connections between the categories
of weighing up and the non-spasmodic categories that attach to
the spasmodic event of a moment capturing have been explained.
Also, the close connection between spasmodic event of a
configuration matching and the most immediate consequences of
a spasmodic event of a moment capturing has been explained.

These connections indicate that on a higher conceptual
level (i.e. sub-core level) opportunizing may have three more
organizational dimensions. The first of these emerges from the
conjunction of the perpetually occurring processes of conditional
befriending and prospecting. It may be called perpetual
opportunizing. It also signifies the physically boundary-less
organizational facet of opportunizing, as well as basic social
psychological processing.

The second of these arises from the coming together of
company identity (a theoretical code), the categories of weighing
up, and the nonspasmodic categories that attach to the spasmodic
event of a moment capturing. These categories account for
weighing up that triggers the acts of opportunizing. It may be
called triggering opportunizing. It also signifies the value-hierarchical
organizational facet of opportunizing.

The third of these happens when moment capturing and
configuration matching unite, i.e. when the immediate
consequence of a spasmodic moment capturing lead to a
configuration matching. It may be called spasmodic
opportunizing. It also signifies the physically bounded
organizational facet of opportunizing as well as basic social
structural processing. In a similar classic grounded theory study
by Ng (2005) on “managing collaborative synergy” (or “mutually
opportunizing”) among companies within the crane industry in
the Far East, the junctions between these three main dimensions
of opportunizing seem to emerge.

Triggering opportunizing

A company’s self-identity (a theoretical code) and its
attachment to the two non-spasmodic categories that attach to
the spasmodic event of a moment capturing (“weighing up of
weighing up regarding past moment captures” and “perpetual
awareness of moment capture concept”), seem to have a
superseding role in triggering opportunizing.

The other categories of triggering opportunizing are the four
categories of weighing up. Among these four categories, the
category of “weighing up for relevance in prospecting” seems to be
pivotal. It is triggered by needs of output from prospecting as
input to weighing up.

The remaining categories of triggering opportunizing are
“weighing up just before moment capturing”, “weighing up on
configuration matching”, and “weighing up for match/influence in
conditional befriending”. These are dependent on outcomes from
prospecting that have been through a “separating out” process of
“weighing up for relevancy in prospecting”. Practices studied by
Andriopoulos et al (2000) for enhancing organizational creativity
can be seen as special procedures for handling this joint subprocess
of prospecting and weighing up (i.e. “weighing up for
relevance in prospecting”) without bringing the main process of
opportunizing in these companies out of balance.

The categories of triggering opportunizing are of a different
kind than the categories of perpetual and spasmodic
opportunizing. This is partly because of their involvement in the
other acts of opportunizing, and partly because of their
superseding and value-hierarchical nature.

Spasmodic opportunizing

As mentioned, the immediate organizational consequences of
a spasmodic moment capturing lead to or are tantamount to a
configuration matching. This also means that spasmodic
opportunizing can be explained as a configuration matching.

The social structural processing of spasmodic opportunizing
(or configuration matching) can be explained by the PDCA-cycle
as a theoretical code. The category “act of configuration
matching” represents the DO stage of the PDCA-cycle. The
category “signs of matching/influencing in configuration
matching” represents the CHECK stage of the PDCA-cycle.
Finally, the category “weighing up for configuration matching
represents the ACT & PLAN stages of the PDCA-cycle. An
inductive stage of this weighing up process (ACT) precedes a
deductive stage (PLAN). The inductive stage of the weighing up
process relies on prospecting outcomes that by their nature are
inductive, while the deductive stage relies on prospecting
outcomes that by their nature are deductive. The data indicate a
better performance of companies with an inductive-deductive
balance.

Perpetual opportunizing

The two mutually dependent sub-processes of perpetual
opportunizing are conditional befriending and prospecting. The
social psychological processing of these two processes can also be
explained by the PDCA-cycle as a theoretical code. The processing
of conditional befriending with its three categories of “confidence
building”, “modifying behavior” and “weighing up for
match/influence in conditional befriending” can be explained as
follows:

The ultimate goal and desired outcome of conditional
befriending is to modify people’s behavior in such a manner that
the company’s survival or growth is sustained. To modify people’s
behavior by intervention without basing the intended behavior
modification on generated trust is impossible or ineffective.
Consequently, the main means to obtain this modification of
behavior is confidence building, and confidence building is a
perpetual activity in business. Consequently, the category of
“confidence building” represents the DO stage of the PDCA-cycle,
and the category of “modifying behavior” represents the CHECK
stage of the PDCA-cycle. Finally, the category “weighing up for
match/influence in conditional befriending” represents the stages
of ACT (inductive) and PLAN (deductive) in the PDCA-cycle.
Individual managers and companies differ regarding the
inductive-deductive balance in their weighing up, as well as in
noticing signs or patterns of behavior modification in the CHECK
stage of the PDCA-cycle.

The processing of prospecting with its three categories of
“predetermined prospecting”, “genuine-original prospecting” and
“weighing up for relevance in prospecting” can be explained as
follows. Prospecting begins as predetermined prospecting.
Occasionally, outcomes of prospecting are gained in genuineoriginal
prospecting. Thus, the essential “doing” in prospecting is
the unavoidable and perpetual predetermined prospecting with a
main aim of obtaining occasional changeover to genuine-original
prospecting for obtaining prospecting outcomes that are genuineoriginal.
Consequently, the category of “predetermined
prospecting” represents the DO stage of the PDCA-cycle, and the
category of “genuine-original prospecting” represents the CHECK
stage of the PDCA-cycle. Finally, the category “weighing up for
relevance in prospecting” represents the stages of ACT (inductive)
& PLAN (deductive) in the PDCA-cycle. Individual managers and
companies differ regarding the inductive-deductive balance in
their weighing up, and in noticing signs or patterns of gains in
their genuine-original prospecting outcomes in the CHECK stage
of the PDCA-cycle.

The mutual dependency between the conditional befriending
and prospecting sub-processes of perpetual opportunizing is
explained as follows: (1) Conditional befriending triggers
prospecting by modifying behavior into predetermined
prospecting. (2) Via the connected weighing up categories,
prospecting triggers conditional befriending as a means for
facilitating prospecting.

The close linking between the two perpetual opportunizing
processes of conditional befriending and prospecting may
alternatively be explained as follows: (1) The CHECK stage of
any PDCA-cycle can be conceived as its immediate prospecting
stage. However, the requirement for a prospecting outcome for
“weighing up for match/influence in conditional befriending” may
be of such a scope that the conditional befriending PDCA-cycle
triggers a subsidiary and separate prospecting PDCA-cycle. (2)
The requirement for prospecting may be of such a scope that a
prospecting PDCA-cycle triggers a subsidiary conditional
befriending PDCA-cycle to modify some people’s behavior in order
to facilitate prospecting. Thus, as perpetual opportunizing,
conditional befriending and prospecting are each other’s spin-off.

Confidence building and modifying behavior as two
related sub-processes of conditional befriending

Before some possible consequences of the model of
opportunizing for quality improvements in business are
explained, it may be helpful to elaborate on the model of
conditional befriending. As mentioned, the aim of the process of
conditional befriending is an outcome of modified behavior in
such a manner that the company’s survival and growth is
sustained. The two categories of conditional befriending,
confidence building (DO stage of the PDCA-cycle) and modifying
behavior (CHECK stage of the PDCA-cycle), are two main
concern issues, but they also attach to two distinct “bias random
walk” like sub-processes for the processing of these two main
concern issues.

The sub-process of confidence building

The confidence building sub-process of conditional
befriending has the four elements of “direction”, “saming”,
“transparency” and “distinguishing”, and the outcome is “trust”.
The element of “direction” signifies the group of people (e.g.
employees, customers) or the issue, which a given confidence
building (and consequently also behavior modification) is aimed
at. “Saming”, “transparency”, and “distinguishing” are general
trust-building techniques or trust-building constituents. Together
with direction they become the four main dimensions or
constituents of trust. This means that the concept of trust has to
be conceived as multivariate with four main dimensions, and
each of them may have many sub-dimensions.

“Saming” signifies e. g. some kind of common identity, unity
or sameness of interests, as well as the notion of “win-win”, and it
also implies some kind of predictability. “Transparency” e. g.
means that there are no hidden agendas or absence of
obscureness. “Distinguishing” means different and better and is
the possession, exhibition or formation of highly regarded or
excellent features embedded within trust, and the opposite are
features that withdraw trust. Any sub-dimension of ”saming” can
be conceived as having negative values, as for example seen in
”management by fear”. The same, of course, applies for
“transparency” and “distinguishing”. Some sub-dimensions of
saming and transparency may even need to have “negative”
values in order to modify behavior. These four constituents of
trust are interdependent when combined, and some combinations
may become very powerful. This especially applies for some
combinations with high saming and distinguishing values.
Confidence building occurs in a “bias random walk” like manner
by the mixing of these four elements to create an appropriate
multivariate trust to facilitate behavior modification. Some data
incidences indicating these concepts are as follows:

He had obviously a very high regard for the community.
[saming with direction]. He was a very socially conscious
man. [saming with direction]. Everybody could see that.
[transparent]. His accomplishments speak for themselves
[distinguishing, transparent]. Even as the main owner
and manager of the company, his lifestyle was not much
different from his employees. [saming]. He was simple,
yet he was complicated. He had some idiosyncrasies that
everybody knew about. [idiosyncrasies make distinct]. He
received many distinguished orders….[distinguishing].

I have never hesitated in being open about my religious
conviction. I have always gained respect for that, also in
my affairs with foreign suppliers. At our annual meeting
and breakfast before Christmas I do the same.
[idiosyncrasies make distinct and transparent]. I also
make no secret that all my employees are in my daily
prayers. [saming]. I also deliberately treat everybody in
the same way, high as low [saming].

When foreign partners visit us, we always give them at
least one moment that they will never forget.
[distinguishing]. We…..

What characterized this company is that many families
through many generations have been attached to it as
employees [saming]

The sub-process of modifying behavior

The modifying behavior sub-process of conditional
befriending has the elements of “trust” (outcome from confidence
building) and “intervention”, and the outcome is modified
behavior. On the basis of the created trust, behavior is modified
by some intervention or some kind of “obligating”. However,
without the appropriate trust, this modifying of behavior becomes
an impossible or an ineffective task.

Some Possible Research Implications for “Quality
Management”

It is e.g. obvious that most of the speaking and most of the
behavior of a politician is confidence building with the aim of
modifying behavior, and especially the behavior of his/her
targeted group of voters when they will cast their votes at the
ballot box. It is equally obvious that much of the behavior of
business managers is also confidence building with the aim of
modifying behavior of some targeted group of people, but these
managers have obviously not consciously conceptualized and
understood their activities in this manner.

Some years ago, quality management was a hot topic in
business management. Why do some business managers focus on
this issue? The answer to this question is simply that quality
management programs as change programs are for confidence
building with the aim of modifying the behavior of some groups of
people in such a manner that the company’s survival and growth
is sustained.

Thus, in this case, “confidence building” may be replaced
with the term “quality building”, and the concept of trust may be
replaced with the term quality. The concept of quality may also
be the most important property of the concept of trust. However,
in this case quality has to be conceived as a multivariate concept
with the four main dimensions of direction, saming, transparency
and distinguishing. This means that quality in this context
cannot be conceived as a univariate concept as it usually is
(Reeves and Bednar, 1994). Such a different conception of quality
is supplementary to other definitions of quality, or perspectives
on quality, and it does not replace them. Because the eventual
aim of quality building is to modify customers’ behavior via
modified behavior of employees, partners and suppliers, it may
also require that business managers modify their own behavior in
their confidence building that is directed towards their
employees, partners or suppliers. This means that the concept of
quality, like the concept of trust, also applies for people’s
relationships in business. This is usually forgotten by quality
management experts.

It may be crucial for the effectiveness of any change program
in business that it is closely attached to the main concerns of
those persons, who are mostly involved and have most at stake in
its implementation. If this is not the case, then these people could
care less about it. The theory of opportunizing suggests that these
main concerns and their recurrent solutions are expressed by the
concepts of the model of opportunizing. Consequently, it is
suggested that the implementation of such change programs
should be aligned with these concepts and their relationships.
The model of opportunizing could be used as a device for
practitioners to skip trivia and to focus on the most important
and problematic issues. The underlying, but often unexpressed,
aim of business managers, interested in implementing quality
programs in their businesses, has often been the notion to trigger
some beneficial version of amplified causal looping in their
business. The data in this study indicate that amplified causal
looping is triggered by the conditional befriending sub-process of
confidence building by some particularly efficient mixtures of
direction, saming, transparency and distinguishing.

One issue within quality management theory and practice
has been that of minimizing the variation around a target in
process control of items in mass production. When items with the
targeted physical properties, and with minimum variation around
them, are assembled to make the final product, a perfect fit will
secure maximum reliability and durability of the product. This is
the “six sigma” issue within quality management. This aspect of
quality can be defined quantitatively.

The other issue within quality management theory and
practice has been what kind of management practices in general
should be used to manage a system of interacting parts, when the
objective is quality. Most seem to agree with the view that the
system outcomes mainly are made in the interactions between
the parts of the system, and that the same applies for quality.
However, it is not so straightforward to define or to quantify
these aspects of quality.

So far, it has not been possible to unify these two issues of
quality management by a theory that uses the same concepts
(Deming, 1986; Aguayo, 2000; Deming, 1993). The model of
opportunizing could provide a solution to this problem. For
example, to minimize the variation around a target (increasing
predictability) is explained by the concept of “saming” within the
model of opportunizing. Other concepts of the model of
opportunizing, including the concepts of direction, saming,
transparency and distinguishing in confidence building, may sum
up and explain many issues that are described in the quality
management literature. However, this is a topic for another
article.

Author

Ólavur Christiansen
Department of Social Science
University of Faroe Islands
J.C. Svabosgoeta 7
FO-100 Torshavn, Faroe Islands

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