Strategy as PracticeTheories, methodologies and phenomena

Published August 2012 Updated March 2014 14 lectures
Prof. David Seidl
University of Zurich, Switzerland
Prof. Paula Jarzabkowski
Aston Business School, UK

Over the last decade, strategy-as-practice has emerged as a distinctive approach in strategy research, according to which strategy is conceptualized as something that people do rather than something that firms in their markets have. This interest in doing strategy directs research attention to the myriad of day-to-day micro-level activities that... read moremake up the everyday practice of strategy. Yet, at the same time it calls for an appreciation of the role of the macro-level institutions in which these strategizing activities are embedded and which they instantiate: Strategists are not acting in isolation but exist within those regular, socially defined modes of acting that arise from the plural social institutions in which they are embedded and which they construct on a moment-by-moment basis in their actions.

The field has therefore increasingly turned its attention to studying the nexus of practitioners, practices and praxis, in which strategy is performed. The research focus is thus on the interaction between practitioners (strategists, broadly defined from middle and top managers to consultants and others, who do the work of strategy), practices (those social and material ‘things’, such as PowerPoint, flipcharts, spreadsheets, tools and concepts, and spaces that are integral to doing strategy) and praxis (the flow of work at multiple levels, in which strategy is performed). Studies may differently foreground or background practitioners, practices and praxis, according to their dominant theoretical and methodological approach and the empirical phenomena of interest. Our series aims to provide insight into these concepts and analytic choices.

The objective of the Strategy-as-Practice series of talks is to provide an introduction into this novel approach to strategy and to reveal the particular insights that can be gained by adopting such an approach. Apart from an introductory talk which will elaborate on the legacy of the strategy-as-practice approach and its relation to other areas of strategy research, the series is divided into three main sections: The first section will discuss different theoretical perspectives in strategy-as-practice; the second section will elaborate on the advantages and challenges of different empirical methods in examining strategy practice; the third and most extensive section will address central phenomena in strategy practice, such as strategy meetings, strategy talk, strategy tools, strategic planning etc. Each talk is given by an eminent scholar in the respective field and will include slides and a few recommended readings.