[Excerpt] A decade ago, Eisenhardt (1989) proposed a model of strategic decision-making speed for firms facing high-velocity environments. This theory, while important at the time, has become even more relevant to the strategy-making bodies of firms in the entrepreneurial millennium. The model differed in important ways from much of the existing literature on decision-making speed (Frederickson and Mitchell, 1984; Janis, 1982; Mintzberg, et al., 1976; Nutt, 1976). Eisenhardt's ideas were based on a series of inductive case studies of eight firms competing in the fast-paced micro-chip industry. As such, it was an important theory-building effort in a central area of strategy process, strategic decision-making. To date, however, there have been no attempts to comprehensively test the model with a larger sample of firms.
The changes the economy is experiencing in this new millennium are astounding. In short, the hyper-competitive forces faced a decade ago by micro-chip makers have become pervasive throughout many of our top industries (D'Aveni, 1994; Grimm and Smith, 1997). Thus, the prescriptions of Eisenhardt's model would appear to be critical for today's firms as they seek entrepreneurial approaches to gaining competitive advantage. Top management teams (TMTs) capable of making rapid decisions can enable their firms to be the entrepreneurial first movers in their respective segments. To our knowledge, however, there has been only one attempt to replicate Eisenhardt's preliminary findings. Judge and Miller (1991) tested a portion of the model on a small sample (n = 32) of firms in three industries. The research tested two of the five "tactics" mentioned by Eisenhardt, did not incorporate the intervening processes, and produced mixed results. Thus, there have been no successful attempts to test the entire model on a large cross-section of firms. This is due in part to the difficulty researchers face in gaining access to a large sample of top executives, especially those facing fast-paced environments. This research tests Eisenhardt's model on a sample of 66 high technology firms competing in the IT, telecommunications, and engineering services industries.