First Advisor

Lewis N. Goslin

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Systems Science


Systems Science




Business community, Business planning, Strategic planning -- Management, Business planning -- Evaluation



Physical Description

3, ix, 152 leaves: ill. 28 cm.


The intent of this exploratory case study was: (1)to compare a model of expected formal business plan content with the content of actual business plans developed within a single company, (2)to develop a modified model of formal business plan content which recognizes organizational influences on plan content, (3)to propose a method for evaluating business plans based on this modified model. The firm studied was Fast Delta Corporation, a "Fortune 500" multidivisional manufacturing company in a high technology industry. The business plan content analyzed in this study was produced through a planning system similar to those implemented by other multidivisional companies. In this study, planning by middle managers rather than top management was the primary focus. The study method was based on the analysis of formal plan content rather than direct observation or inquiry about the planning process. Study steps included: (1)test of goodness of fit between a simple model of expected business plan content and the actual content of business plans produced through the Fast Delta Corporation planning system. (2)analysis of deviations of the actual content from the expected content model. This analysis included comparison of actual formal plan content with non-content characteristics of the formal plans, with the content of business strategy case studies from other firms, and with the content of Fast Delta Corporation managers' responses to case studies in business strategy. The results of this study showed that Fast Delta Corporation formal business plan content was influenced by several factors. These included short-term corporate-wide concerns; shared assumptions among managers about the strengths and limitations of the study firm; and constraints on strategy which may be characteristic of other firms with similar structure, at a similar life cycle stage, or within the same industry. From these results a modified model of business plan content was developed which considered these influences. The validity of this model suggests that the plan analysis techniques used in this study were effective techniques for identifying the planning assumptions which underlie business plan content produced through a firm's formal business planning system. The results and conclusions of this study are significant for top management, middle management, corporate planning staff, and those doing research in strategic planning.


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Portland State University. Systems Science Ph. D. Program.

Persistent Identifier