Standing Working Group 5 (Sub-theme 05):
Strategy as Practice –
Stability and Change in Strategizing Routines
Ludwig-Maximilian University, Munich (Germany)
Johnson Chair for Civic Governance and Public Management, University of California, Irvine (USA)
HEC Montréal (Canada)
Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration, Helsinki & Helsinki University of Technology (Finland)
Call for papers
Under the label 'Strategy as Practice', researchers lately have been calling for a re-conceptualisation of strategy as a social activity: strategy is not something an organisation has but something that its members do. This implies a focus on the myriad micro-activities and interactions in and around the organisation that make up strategy in practice. However, these micro-phenomena have also to be seen in their wider social context: actors in their situations are not acting in isolation but are drawing upon the regular, socially defined modes of acting that arise from the plurality of social institutions to which they belong. In this sense the strategy-as-practice approach tries to establish explicit links between micro and macro perspectives (see the strategy-as-practice website at www.strategy-as-practice.org for more information on this approach and a bibliography of relevant papers in this area).
This year, the Standing Working Group 'Strategizing: Activity and Practice' will devote particular attention to the role of routines in strategizing. Much of the everyday practice of strategizing is based on routine activities – behavioural, cognitive, discursive and physical routines. There are, for example, annual planning cycles, regular meetings and workshops, each of which might comprise routine patterns that shape organizational strategy over time, as well as having routinized practices through which each meeting, workshop or plan is instantiated as a social structure. Such routines result not only in stability but equally in change either because they are routines of change, e.g. strategic episodes or change programmes or because the routines are evolving and modifying over time. Although routines have been widely acknowledged by strategy-as-practice researchers, our understanding of their role in shaping stability and change in strategy is still rather limited. There is a large literature on routines in general that strategy researchers have yet to tap into, as well as considerable scope for empirical studies on strategizing routines.
We call for papers that explore the various aspects of routines in strategizing, understood broadly. We are interested both in conceptual and empirical papers, which might be qualitative and/or quantitative in approach. Possible topics for contributions include, but are not restricted to:
- Types of strategizing routines; comparison of strategizing routines across different contexts
- Relationships between different strategizing routines within a single context
- How strategizing routines are constructed and modified through everyday practice
- The implications of strategizing routines for strategic outcomes at either individual, group, organizational or institutional levels
- Sources, triggers and consequences of change in strategizing routines
- The role of non-routine events and activities in upsetting strategizing routines
- The role of strategizing routines in shaping stability and change in organizational strategy over time
- Critical approaches to strategizing routines, such as how routines enable some voices to be represented whilst marginalizing others.
Note that these themes are not exclusive. While we hope that the focus on routines will prove an inspiration for submitting authors, any work that reflects the general mission of the Standing Working Group to examine strategizing as an activity or practice will be considered.
We are keen to engage participants in panel discussions of key topics, to hold full-group sessions to discuss papers that contribute to key issues in the field, and to provide more personal feedback for developmental papers. At the same time, we would like to include as many participants as possible. We will therefore run the sub-theme sessions as a mix of:
- One introductory and one concluding panel session with key presenters and discussants
- Three standard paper sessions of three presentations for those papers that are either very well developed or that raise topical issues for discussion
- Two interactive round table paper sessions of up to four tables, with three papers per table, to provide small group feedback and discussion on other papers, with a particular aim of helping participants to develop their ideas and contributions to the strategy as practice field.
We hope this will provide a combination of lively discussion, advancement of the field, and attention to and support for each other's work.
About the convenors
Martha Feldman is Professor of Social Ecology; Johnson Chair for Civic Governance and Public Management, University of California, Irvine. She has a longstanding interest in how organizations influence people’s ability to accomplish work. Her recent work uses and extends practice theory to understand the role of organizational routines in organizational learning and adaptation. Her work in qualitative methods has focused primarily on developing techniques for analyzing context-dependent phenomena. She is (co-)author of four books on these topics as well as numerous articles in leading journals such as ASQ, Organization Science, JMS, and Industrial and Corporate Change
Ann Langley is Professor of strategic management and research methods at HEC Montréal. Her research deals with strategic change, decision making, innovation, strategic leadership practices in pluralistic organizations, notably in health care. Together with Gerry Johnson, Leif Melin and Richard Whittington, she authored Strategy as Practice: Research Directions and Resources (Cambridge University Press) to appear in 2007.
Saku Mantere is acting professor of management and organization at the Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration in Helsinki, Finland and adjunct professor at the Helsinki University of Technology. His research is focused on the impact strategy makes on work at multiple organizational levels through discursive and other social practices.
David Seidl, Dipl.-Kfm. (LMU Munich), is Junior Professor at Ludwig-Maximilian University, Munich. In the field of organization and strategy he published in journals such as JMS, Organization Studies, Organization and Human Relations. With Paula Jarzabkowski, he hosts the Strategy-as-Practice website (www.strategy-as-practice.org). Further, he convened various sub-themes at EGOS and EURAM.