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Strategy workshops as strategic episodes: three case studies


Seidl, D; MacIntosh, R; MacLean, D (2008). Strategy workshops as strategic episodes: three case studies. In: Academy of Management Annual Meeting, Anaheim, California, USA, 8 August 2008 - 13 August 2008.

Abstract

Despite the attention that strategic change as a topic of research has received, there remain considerable difficulties in conceptualizing the actual sources of strategic change. Using the concept of strategic episodes, this paper develops an endogenous theory of change, where the sources of change are located in the organization itself. We argue that processes of organizational reproduction lead to inconsistencies which manifest themselves as conflicting demands on those working in the organization. Such inconsistencies have the potential to place considerable strain upon the actors experiencing them but we argue that organizations possess suppression mechanisms which prevent the organization from openly dealing with the tensions that these inconsistencies would introduce. Hence, these suppression mechanisms are not a deficiency of the organization but are in fact, crucial for its very functioning. The paper examines strategy workshops as episodes which suspend these organizational suppression mechanisms so that previously experienced inconsistencies can be voiced. We therefore build an explanation of strategic change where inconsistencies are not so much solved by bringing in new principles, rules or schemas from outside, but by the novel rearrangement or recombination of existing or previous aspects of the organization. We examine three case studies of strategy workshops and observe that the process of strategic change typically involves several consecutive workshops before significant changes are carried beyond the workshop environment and into ongoing organizational process.

Abstract

Despite the attention that strategic change as a topic of research has received, there remain considerable difficulties in conceptualizing the actual sources of strategic change. Using the concept of strategic episodes, this paper develops an endogenous theory of change, where the sources of change are located in the organization itself. We argue that processes of organizational reproduction lead to inconsistencies which manifest themselves as conflicting demands on those working in the organization. Such inconsistencies have the potential to place considerable strain upon the actors experiencing them but we argue that organizations possess suppression mechanisms which prevent the organization from openly dealing with the tensions that these inconsistencies would introduce. Hence, these suppression mechanisms are not a deficiency of the organization but are in fact, crucial for its very functioning. The paper examines strategy workshops as episodes which suspend these organizational suppression mechanisms so that previously experienced inconsistencies can be voiced. We therefore build an explanation of strategic change where inconsistencies are not so much solved by bringing in new principles, rules or schemas from outside, but by the novel rearrangement or recombination of existing or previous aspects of the organization. We examine three case studies of strategy workshops and observe that the process of strategic change typically involves several consecutive workshops before significant changes are carried beyond the workshop environment and into ongoing organizational process.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper), refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Business Administration
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
Language:English
Event End Date:13 August 2008
Deposited On:23 Feb 2009 11:15
Last Modified:21 Nov 2017 14:02
Official URL:http://meeting.aomonline.org/2008/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=1

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