The Strategy as Practice Study Group focuses its attention on four main areas that contribute in complementary ways to the development of knowledge about the practice of strategy: 1) strategy practitioners and their practices, 2) the role of tools in the practice of strategy, 3) strategizing as identity work, 4) inter-organizational strategizing.
1- Strategy practitioners and their practices
The strategy field has long been interested in the roles of leaders in the formulation and implementation of strategies. However, scholars have generally focused their attention on general characteristics of top management teams, neglecting the microprocesses and daily activities of their members. It is this level of analysis that distinguishes the work of researchers in our group. Members of the group are also concerned with strategic leadership beyond top management teams, i.e., as a practice that is widely distributed at all levels of the organization, in particular among middle managers, professionals and others.
2- The role of tools in the practice of strategy
A central issue in the practice of strategy concerns the role of tools, including techniques (such as SWOT analyses), templates and artefacts of formal strategic planning (such as strategic plans or strategy maps), or the mundane material tools of everyday strategy work, such as flip charts and PowerPoint presentations. Traditionally, much of the research on strategy tools has used arms-length data focusing, for example, on correlational relationships between planning and performance. Members of the research team seek to develop a more micro-level understanding of what is involved in the use of such tools and how they contribute in concrete terms to strategy development.
3- Strategizing as identity work
Strategy is intimately related to organizational identity. Scholars in the strategy mainstream have described organizational identity as a strategic asset which is closely linked to its competitive advantage. Organizational identity structures resource deployment and participates in the construction of core competencies. A practice perspective on the relationship between strategy and identity demands a focus on “identity work” – i.e., the means by which managers and others simultaneously construct collective identities within and across boundaries and build their identity in strategizing. Work on identity and strategizing is a central focus for several members of the research team.
4- Inter-organizational strategizing
In complex and extreme environments there is a growing interest in understanding how stakeholders involved in transversal and inter-organizational collaborations work together to achieve their strategic goals and cope with unexpected events. This developing research area is resonating with the new research agenda on “open strategy” recently emerging in the international strategy as practice community.