Session 15

Metaphor and Narrative in Strategy

Track A

Date: Friday, March 19, 2010


Time: 13:15 – 14:45


Room: Kokoustila 1

Session Chair:

Title: Counter Clock World: How Planning Backwards Helps to Move Forward


  • Antti Ainamo, University of Turku
  • Juha-Antti Lamberg, Helsinki University of Technology

Abstract: In this paper, we offer a paradoxical approach to pragmatic conceptualizing by using Philip Dick’s science fiction novel, ‘Counter Clock World’ (1967) as a starting point for process theorizing. For the manager of declining organizations, we find that Dick’s novel ideas outlines a seminal managerial understanding a) how going backwards is a sometimes fully rational premise, b) how the process of going backwards in organizational activities should be managed and c) how the move backward can sometimes be leveraged as a move forward. The main outcomes of our normative theorizing are twofold. First, we find that evolution, like history, has the property that it tends never to unfold in exactly the same way no matter how many times imprinting conditions are repeated. Second, we find that precisely because of this reason of imperfect reversibility, de-evolution or regression offers a novel design option for managers facing circumstances of organizational decline.

Title: Mapping Chaos in the Context of Business Organizations


  • Som Sekhar Bhattacharyya, National Institute of Industrial Engineering
  • Rakshith Rangarajan, National Institute of Industrial Engineering
  • Kartik Vyas, Persistent Systems Ltd.

Abstract: During the occurrence of Chaos and afterwards there is a lack of order and a scope of suffering losses which makes life difficult. Chaos events are often too hazy to be viewed early. For business firms’ it is important to face the Chaos first hand and then manage the chaotic phase such that there is restoration of order at the earliest and minimization of losses till the end. If there can be a way to structure the phenomenon of a Chaos then it would help managers to comprehend Chaos better for organizational success. This article based on Indian examples attempts to develop a set procedure to structure and measure Chaos in terms of its Sensitivity, Complexity, Uncertainty and Scope of Potential or Incurred Loss.

Title: Narratives as Strategizing Practice


  • Annika Tidström, University of Vaasa
  • Henrik Gahmberg, University of Vaasa

Abstract: Narratives are meaningful when it comes to strategizing practice within firms. With the exception of e.g. Dunford and Jones (2000) and Barry and Elmes (1997), there are few studies within the field of strategy as practice that focus on narratives within the context of strategizing. This study is different from the existing studies as it focuses on narratives on a fundamental level. The purpose of this paper is to put forward a research agenda related to the intersections of narratives related to strategizing and strategy work and routines in practice. The empirical part of the study will be based on business stories of a firms told by the founder or manager. The stories are collected as part of regional study of Finnish-speaking and Swedish-speaking entrepreneurs in western Finland.

Title: Organizational Change in S-a-P and Strategy Process Research: Revealing a Paradox through Novel Metaphors


  • Timo Vuori, Aalto University
  • Natalia Vuori, Aalto University

Abstract: We investigate the connections between S-a-P and strategy process research in relation to organizational change. We look at organizational change through two novel metaphors. The Rubik’s Cube metaphor, associated with process research, emphasizes the importance of planning the process of change to move from a weaker fit to a better fit. The Blind Watchmaker, associated with S-a-P, emphasizes the importance of continuity and the point that each successive state must add on the previous one and be in line with complex and multilevel patterns unfolding in an organization. Our comparison reveals an underlying value difference: Process research treats psychological and social needs as “problems” to overcome, whereas S-a-P research respects people and their needs as they are, and problematizes practices aiming to overcome the needs.

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