The Role of Leadership in International Retail Divestment and Corporate Restructuring

Anne Marie Doherty, P Cairns, B Quinn, N Alexander

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Purpose –
    The purpose of this paper is to explore the role played by leadership in divestment decision making and indeed during the corporate restructuring phase for retail organisations. In doing so, the paper aims to contribute to a growing body of research that seeks to develop understanding of
    the factors leading to retail divestment and the nature of corporate response to divestment.

    Design/methodology/approach –
    A multiple case approach is utilised. The cases are selected from a database of international retail divestment activity over a longitudinal period.

    Findings –
    The paper demonstrates that divestment can be a response to “failure”, however, support is also provided for the assertion that divestment can be a strategic decision to devote resources more efficiently elsewhere, either at home or abroad. A key finding is the role of leadership and managerial stability in relation to divestment and restructuring at home and abroad.

    Research limitations/implications –
    The themes presented in this paper are developed from observational data. The validity of the themes should be examined further through in-depth, qualitative case studies of divestment activity. Future research could examine the role of new CEOs both in relation to the divestment itself and during the process of restructuring following divestment.

    Practical implications –
    The role of leadership and managerial stability in divestment and corporate restructuring processes are highlighted. Insights are provided into the organisational response to divestment actions and the implications for further international strategies.

    Originality/value –
    Academic debate on divestment has highlighted a wide range of reasons that
    lead to retailers divesting international operations and the strategic value of divestment. This paper adds to existing knowledge by examining the role of leadership within the divestment process.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)25 - 42
    Number of pages17
    JournalEuropean Business Review
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2010


    • the role of leadership in international retail divestment
    • leadership
    • divestment
    • decision making
    • organizational restructuring


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