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Researching strategy practices : a genealogical social theory perspective

Rasche, A. and Chia, Robert (2009) Researching strategy practices : a genealogical social theory perspective. Organization Studies, 30 (7). pp. 713-734. ISSN 0170-8406

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Abstract

This paper explores the meaning and significance of the term 'social practice' and its relation to strategy-as-practice research from the perspective of social theory. Although our remarks are also applicable to other practice-based discussions in management, we discuss strategy practices as a case in point and thus contribute to the strategy-as-practice literature in three ways. First, instead of simply accepting the existence of a unified 'practice theory', we outline a genealogical analysis revealing the historical-contingent conditions of its creation. This analysis shows that social practices in general and strategy practices in particular can be approached from either a neo-structuralist and/or neo-interpretative perspective. Second, based on this theoretical argument, we discuss different characteristics of strategy practices and emphasize those aspects not yet fully considered by strategy-as-practice research (e.g. the physical nature of practices). Third, we show that, when studying strategy practices, given an understanding of the alternative theoretical approaches available, the practice of strategy research itself needs to be adjusted so as to accommodate a stronger emphasis on an ethnographic approach that is directed towards uncovering the contextual and hidden characteristics of strategy-making.