Session 12

The Discourse of Strategy

Track A

Date: Thursday, March 18, 2010


Time: 13:15 – 14:45


Room: Kokoustila 1

Session Chair:

Title: First-order Strategy Discourse: The Strategy Meaning-making Process in Practice


  • Sotirios Paroutis, University of Warwick
  • Loizos Heracleous, University of Warwick

Abstract: Using insights from institutional theory and strategy-as-practice we investigate the multi-faceted meanings of “strategy” as conceived by strategists. Instead of accepting a reification of this concept, we present it as a contingent term intimately bound with agents who profess to do strategy and be strategists, and explore their first-order view of this term. Our findings are derived from interviews with strategy directors and a longitudinal study in a FTSE-100 multi-business firm. We expose five primary dimensions of the meaning of strategy: functional, action, contextual, identity and metaphorical. We conceptualize these meanings as multi-dimensional, identity-constructive and contested “structural features” of first-order strategy discourse utilized over time by a wide community of strategists during the strategy process.

Title: Foreign Investment Turns Into a Conflict: Discourse Analysis on the Firm-Stakeholder Relationships


  • Hanna Lehtimaki, University of Eastern Finland
  • Johanna Kujala, University of Tampere

Abstract: The focus of this paper is on understanding the dynamics of firm-stakeholder relationships. The firm-stakeholder interaction is discussed as a process, where both the actors participating in the process and the activities taken by the actors are politically and socially constructed. The empirical setting is a conflict that evolved when a European pulp and paper manufacturer invested in a pulp mill in Southern-America. First, the representation of the pulp mill conflict in media texts with frame analysis is investigated. Second, the consequences of the emerging frames for the firm-stakeholder interaction are examined from a relational perspective. The analysis shows the role of language as a producer of meanings and a provider of taken for granted interpretations of firm-stakeholder relationships.

Title: Pictorial Discourse Analysis: Methodological Innovation at the Intersection of Process & Practice


  • David Stiles, University of Canterbury

Abstract: I develop and apply a novel discursive method based on pictures and words to understand the images competing to define organization identity. This helps develop appropriate strategies addressing fundamental values and mission. As an example of the ‘linguistic turn’ in strategy, pictorial discourse analysis provides a creative approach at the intersection of strategy process and practice. This arises from trying to understand how discursive processes in and around strategy construct and constitute organizational identity. Using an approach derived from critical social psychology and poststructural theory, the study explores the rationalities of a range of actors within a case organization. Findings are presented from a seventeen year study of a premier UK business school. Themes emerging from the data help to construct broad identity-based organizational strategies.

Title: Tracking the Process of Strategic Renewal in MNEs: A Discourse Perspective


  • Julia Balogun, University of Liverpool
  • Kathryn Fahy, Lancaster University

Abstract: Strategic Renewal to retain competitive advantage in mature MNEs often requires radical restructuring in response to greater opportunities for integration across countries and regions. Realising such intended strategies in MNEs is complex. We know it typically involves imposition of new roles on subsidiaries. This gets resisted as subsidiary evolution is driven by the way subsidiary managers choose to respond, and not just parental edict. However, despite growing attention to subsidiary role evolution, little research has explored parent-subsidiary co-evolution during strategic renewal. This is the focus of this research. It brings together research on strategy process and practice; it adopts of a discourse perspective within a longitudinal case study. It makes contributions to knowledge on the realisation of intended strategies in MNEs and organizations more generally.

All Sessions in Track A...

Thu: 13:15 – 14:45
Session 12: The Discourse of Strategy
Thu: 15:15 – 16:45
Session 13: Strategists, Theorists and Conflict
Thu: 17:00 – 18:30
Session 11: The Tools of Strategy Work
Fri: 10:15 – 11:45
Session 14: Routines of Strategy
Fri: 13:15 – 14:45
Session 15: Metaphor and Narrative in Strategy

Strategic Management Society