Strategy-in-Practices : a process philosophical approach to understanding strategy emergence and organizational outcomes

MacKay, Brad and Chia, Robert and Nair, Anup Karath (2020) Strategy-in-Practices : a process philosophical approach to understanding strategy emergence and organizational outcomes. Human Relations. ISSN 0018-7267

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    Abstract

    Emergence of a firm’s strategy is of central concern to both Strategy Process (SP) and Strategy-as-Practice (SAP) scholars. While SP scholars view strategy emergence as a long-term macro conditioning process, SAP advocates concentrate on the episodic micro ‘doing’ of strategy actors in formal strategy planning settings. Neither perspective explains satisfactorily how process and practice relate in strategy emergence to produce tangible organizational outcomes. The conundrum of reconciling the macro/micro distinction implied in process and practice stems from a shared Substantialist metaphysical commitment that attributes strategy emergence to substantive entities. In this article, we draw on Process metaphysics and the practice-turn in social philosophy and theory to propose a Strategy-in-Practices (SIP) perspective. SIP emphasizes how the multitude of coping actions taken at the ‘coal-face’ of an organization congeal inadvertently over time into an organizational modus operandi that provides the basis for strategizing. Strategy, therefore, inheres within socio-culturally propagated predispositions that provide the patterned consistency that makes the inadvertent emergence of a coherent strategy possible. By demonstrating how strategy is immanent in socioculturally propagated practices, the SIP perspective overcomes the troublesome micro/macro distinction implied in SP and SAP research. It also advances our understanding of how strategy emergence impacts organizational outcomes.