A strategy-as-practice perspective : a case study of a business unit within a multinational engineering organisation

Sithole, Kenneth (2011-03)

Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This research report aims to contribute to the contemporary research discourse within the Strategy-as-Practice (S-as-P) field by studying day-to-day strategising practices that take place within a modern organisation. From an S-as-P point of view, strategy is described as a situated, socially accomplished activity, while strategising comprises those actions, interactions and negotiations of multiple actors and the situated practices that they draw upon in accomplishing that activity (Jarzabkowski, Balogun & Seidl, 2007: 8). Here, strategy is redefined as an action organisations perform rather than a concept organisations ‘have’. This introduces a shift in the strategy process, from a prescriptive approach to a practice approach. In this report, the researcher was able to determine how strategising took place in a Business Unit (BU) at a third-tier level within a multinational engineering organisation. This involved an analysis of how the processes of strategy sense-making and sense-giving took place amongst strategic actors. Furthermore, how this was mediated by strategising methods, strategic tools and artefacts was observed. The research recognised that strategy is socially situated and therefore a social practice. To deal with this dimension, activity theory, discussed by Jarzabkowski (2005), was used as an operational measure to identify micro-social system configurations required to implement strategy. Based on an in-depth single case study of the BU, the researcher’s findings discovered unique roles that multiple actors assume in the strategy implementation process, and how they interacted in the pursuit of goal-oriented strategic initiatives. In that process, different strategising techniques were identified, namely Procedural, Interactive, Pre-active or Integrative. It was also shown how managers used these multiple strategising methods at their disposal to facilitate and mediate strategic initiatives. In an attempt to contextualise these micro-strategising practices, the case study also demonstrated how strategy was translated from broad organisational concepts to BU operational manifestations using internal formal procedures that involved a Strategy Map and Balanced Scorecard. This revealed the cascading effect of top-down strategy translation and the gap-closing effect of down-and-up feedback loops in the system. This also exposed how strategy was ‘operationalised’ by decomposing and breaking it down into sub-strategies for implementation, which then created a hierarchy of strategies that were specific to each level of the organisation.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Hierdie navorsingsverslag beoog om by te dra tot die kontemporêre navorsingsgesprek binne die Strategie-as-Praktyk (S-as-P) veld deur dag-tot-dag strategie praktyke wat binne ‘n modern organisasie plaasvind te bestudeer. Vanuit ‘n S-as-P oogpunt, word strategie beskryf as ‘n geposisioneerde, sosiaal-uitgevoerde aktiwiteit, terwyl strategie-beplanning bestaan uit die aksies, interaksies en onderhandelings van onderskeie betrokkenes en die geposisioneerde praktyke waaruit geput word in die uitvoering van daardie aktiwiteit. Strategie word hier herdefinieer as ‘n aksie wat organisasies uitvoer eerder as ‘n konsep wat hulle het. Dit bring ‘n verskuiwing in die strategie proses mee, van ‘n voorskriftelike benadering na ‘n praktiese benadering. Die navorser het in hierdie verslag daarin geslaag om te bepaal hoe strategiese beplanning in ‘n derde vlak Besigheidseenheid (BE) binne ‘n multinasionale ingenieursorganisasie plaasvind. Hiervoor is ‘n analise gedoen van hoe die prosesse van strategiese sin-maak en sin-gee onder strategiese betrokkenes plaasvind. Daarbenewens is waargeneem hoe mediasie deur strategie-beplanningsmetodes, strategiese gereedskap en voorwerpe plaasgevind het. Om met hierdie dimensie om te gaan, is aktiwiteitsteorie, soos bespreek deur Jarzabkowski (2005), gebruik as ‘n operasionele maatstaf om mikro-sosiale sisteem konfigurasies wat vereis word vir implementasie van die strategie te identifiseer. Die navorser se bevindings, gebaseer op ‘n enkele diepgaande gevallestudie van die BE, het unieke rolle geïdentifiseer wat verskeie rolspelers tydens die strategie implementeringsproses aanneem en ook die interaksie wat plaasgevind het in die nastreef van doelgeöriënteerde strategiese inisiatiewe. In die proses is verskillende strategie-tegnieke geïdentifiseer, naamlik Prosedure, Interaktief, Pre-aktief of Integrerend. Daar is ook getoon hoe bestuurders hierdie verskillende beskikbare strategie-metodes aangewend het om strategiese inisiatiewe te fasiliteer en bemiddel. In ‘n poging om hierdie mikro-strategiese praktyke te kontekstualiseer, het die gevallestudie ook aangedui hoe strategie vanaf breë organisatoriese konsepte deur die gebruik van interne formele prosedures, wat ‘n Strategie Kaart en Gebalanseerde Telkaart ingesluit het, omgesit is na operasionele aanwysings vir die BE. Hierdeur is die waterval effek van top- afwaartse omsetting en die gaping-vullende effek van af-en-op terugvoerlusse in die sisteem blootgelê. Dit het ook aangetoon hoe strategie ‘ge-operasionaliseer’ is deur dit te ontkoppel en af te breek tot sub-strategieë vir implementasie, waardeur ‘n hiërargie van strategieë, spesifiek vir elke vlak van die organisasie, geskep is.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/18127
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