Session 13

Strategists, Theorists and Conflict

Track A

Date: Thursday, March 18, 2010


Time: 15:15 – 16:45


Room: Kokoustila 1

Session Chair:

Title: Putting the Strategist Back into the Picture: The Value of a Process Perspective


  • Torsten Schmid, University of St. Gallen
  • Steven Floyd, University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Bill Wooldridge, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Abstract: Strategy process and Strategy-as-Practice scholars share a re-awakened interest in the micro-foundations of strategic management. Recent writings elaborate the distinctive contribution of a sociologically informed investigation of strategy’s practitioners, practices and activities beyond ‘traditional’ process views. This paper, in turn, argues for the continued value of a process perspective for micro-level research in the practice domain and the broader field of strategic management. It capitalizes on well-established strategy process research conducted from the perspective of middle management to develop general guidelines for micro-level research and specific suggestions for strategy research focusing on middle-level actors.

Title: Strategic Planning as Authoring: A Critical Discursive Analysis of Subjectivity and Power in Strategic Planning Meetings


  • Eero Vaara, Aalto University School of Business
  • Virpi Sorsa, Hanken School of Economics

Abstract: Little is known of the actual negotiation processes through which strategic plans are created in organizations. To partly bridge this gap, this study focuses on the discursive processes through which strategy texts are produced in strategic planning meetings. In this paper, we report findings from an ethnographic study of strategic planning in a Nordic city organization. First, we identified ways through which authority positions were constructed in strategy negotiations based on position or knowledge. Second, we distinguished rhetorical tactics: rational argumentation, emotional arguments, ontology, cosmology, narrativization, and alignment. Third, we also found that discourse had power over the actors. This power was evident in the central role of strategy concepts and discourses, but also in repetition that constituted self-legitimating autopoiesis.

Title: The Impact of Conflict on Decision Quality


  • Said Elbanna, Qatar University

Abstract: Despite the increasing importance of conflict in strategic decision (SD) making, there has been little research into its role in non-Western settings. Therefore, culture had little explanatory power to contribute. Moreover, although some previous researchers tried to examine the moderating role of environment in the relationship between SD making characteristics, such as rationality and political behaviour, and decision outcomes, to the best of my knowledge none of them focused on conflict. Given the above, this paper attempts to address the previous gaps in past empirical research by investigating (i) the impact of conflict on decision quality; (ii) the moderating role of environment on the relationship between decision conflict and quality.

Title: The Impact of Organisational Conflict on Strategy Implementation Tasks


  • Jane Lê, University of Sydney
  • Paula Jarzabkowski, City University London

Abstract: Conflict is one of the most studied phenomena in the social sciences, yet we know little about how it unfolds over time and even less about how it impacts strategy implementation tasks. Conceptualising conflict as a process borne out of interaction between people rather than a static event, we use 183 longitudinal observations and 125 interviews to explore the conflict process in a FTSE100 company. Findings contribute to the existing literature by outlining five processual stages of strategy implementation (translating, planning and trialling, deploying, rolling-out and embedding), which arise out of the interaction between the organisational task, latest and manifest conflict, and the activity of organisational actors. A process model summarises how conflict progresses over time and how it relates to strategy implementation tasks.

Title: The Practice Turn in Strategic Planning Research - Complementing the Process Stream


  • Carola Wolf, Aston University

Abstract: This proposal aims at analyzing the intersections of strategy process and strategy-as-practice research on strategic planning to illustrate the complementarity of both research streams to get a holistic body of knowledge around one of the major phenomena of interest in both research streams. We propose that even so earlier strategy-as-practice work on strategic planning follows a more process-oriented tradition, strategy-as-practice also illuminates questions around strategic planning which are not a primary focus of the strategy process tradition such as the origins of planning myths as social practices or the role of different practitioners respectively professional groups. To identify potential future avenues of strategic planning research within the strategy-as-practice stream, we draw on Whittington's (2006, 2007) distinction of praxis, practices and practitioners as core themes in practice research.

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