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Post-processual challenges for the emerging strategy-as-practice perspective: discovering strategy in the logic of practice

Chia, R. and Mackay, R.B. (2007) Post-processual challenges for the emerging strategy-as-practice perspective: discovering strategy in the logic of practice. Human Relations, 60 (1). pp. 217-242. ISSN 0018-7267

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Abstract

The recent turn to 'strategy practice' offers a genuine opportunity for establishing an alternative perspective that is clearly distinct from the traditional strategy process view. The challenge is to clarify and articulate an alternative set of ontological and epistemological premises for founding this new approach to theorizing strategy.What has been called the 'practice turn' in social theory provides this alternative basis for a 'post-processual' approach to theorizing strategy-as-practice. This 'practice turn' involves a radical reformulation of the intractable problem of agency and structure that enables us to bypass the 'micro/macro' distinction so intimately tied to the social sciences in general and to strategy research in particular. Already, there are signs that the discourse of the strategy-as-practice research community reflects this awareness and are thus straining towards some form of 'trans-individual' explanation that is not restricted to the mere 'activities' of strategy actors nor to the traditional emphasis on macro-structures and processes. This article contributes to the clarification of some of the underlying premises of current strategy theorizing and shows how the strategy-as-practice perspective can further differentiate itself from the strategy process view. From the social practices viewpoint, everyday strategy practices are discernible patterns of actions arising from habituated tendencies and internalized dispositions rather than from deliberate, purposeful goal-setting initiatives. We term this epistemological stance 'post-processual'. Such a post-processual world-view offers a revised understanding of strategy emergence that has profound explanatory implications for the strategy-as-practice movement.