Research Explores Positive Impact of Strategic Planning on Cohesiveness and Organizational Performance | Pollack Peacebuilding Systems

February 3, 2021by Natalie Davis0

Summary of:

Nowak, R. (2020). Process of strategic planning and cognitive diversity as determinants of cohesiveness and performance. Business Process Management Journal, 27(1), 55-74. DOI: 10.1108/BPMJ-09-2019-0401

Background & Theory

This article examines cohesiveness and performance in the light of strategic planning. The research supports that when a company engages in strategic planning that is understood and accepted throughout the organization, there is greater cohesiveness across the board (even with cognitive diversity), which then leads to better performance.

Research Questions

Nowak, in “Process of strategic planning and cognitive diversity as determinants of cohesiveness and performance” (2020), seeked to address the following questions:

  1. Does an understood and well implemented strategic plan (and the process leading up to it) lead to greater cohesiveness, even in cognitive diverse organizations?
  2. Does a cohesive unit lead to better performance for the organization?


The author performed this study by sending a survey out to over 200 hospitals. The final sample used for the purpose of this study included 493 surveys total from 105 hospitals, and more specifically, the emergency room staff from each of these hospitals. Every hospital was located in the U.S., and each hospital was in a diverse socioeconomic region. To further ensure diversity, various members with varying roles of the emergency room departments were surveyed (doctors, nurses, etc.). The surveys included a 7-point Likert scale, and asked questions to gather information regarding cognitive diversity, cohesiveness, and strategic planning. Performance was also evaluated through each hospital’s Clinical Outcome Index (COI), and control variables, such a hospital’s size or age, were also taken into consideration. The data was evaluated through Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) and Stata 14.


The results overall support the thought that cognitive diversity can have a negative relationship with cohesiveness, since a variety of thoughts, beliefs, feelings, etc. can often cause conflict instead of innovation. However, it also shows that the process of strategic planning can improve cohesiveness for the organization, and that this specifically can lead to improved performance. The key here is that this has a positive impact even where there is high cognitive diversity. Another important factor to recognize is that on top of improved performance from improved cohesiveness, it may also in general lead to a generally happier, more collaborative, and less conflict-riddled environment, which is a positive for the organization and the employees. This study also recognizes that improved cohesiveness in organizations with cognitive diversity see the value and strength of said diversity – a cohesive unit working together and using various backgrounds, thoughts, etc. to achieve the strategic goals of the organization.

What This Means

  • As noted in the study, several very critical implications are provided, such that the process of strategic planning can be incredibly impactful on overall cohesiveness and performance, and thus should involve and engage employees throughout the process. Additionally, managers and the organization can reinforce the importance of strategic planning and the finalized strategic plan to help drive engagement in the process and ensure employees understand the organization’s goals, so as to better work together to achieve them.
  • An important takeaway here is also understanding that diversity is absolutely a value, but it can also create conflict. Finding ways to encourage the positives of diversity, and finding common ground for employees (in this case, through their strategic goals), is absolutely critical of any organization. This also leads to reduced conflict and an overall more positive work environment.

Final Takeaway

For consultants: When doing organizational coaching or mediating, strategic planning may be a unique path toward peace, a positive and collaborative work environment, and overall positive performance for the company.

For everyone: Whatever company you work for, try to find one that values you as an employee and diversity overall. As noted above, this will often mean a more positive experience and environment overall.

Natalie Davis

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