Session 347

Critical Issues in Strategic Action

Track J

Date: Tuesday, September 23, 2014


Time: 11:00 – 12:15


Room: Helsinki

Session Chair:

  • Timo Santalainen, Aalto University

Title: Fooling Around with Technologies of Rationality: Strategy Tools in an In-house Strategy Unit


  • Suela Haxhiraj, University of Oxford
  • Richard Whittington, University of Oxford

Abstract: This paper builds on a six month participant observation of strategy tool usage in the everyday work of an in-house strategy unit. The findings show that strategy tools are used more than we think and in different ways. In particular, we modify the apparent dichotomy between technologies of rationality and technologies of foolishness (cf. March, 2006), to discover the subtleties of their actual use. In practice, especially in “backstage” performance, tools tend to be disassembled and reassembled by their users, to create new tools suited for the momentary task in hand. Rather than rely on a separate category of “foolish” strategy tools (e.g. as in March, 2006; Stenfors, 2007), this study proposes “foolishness” as a productive and intrinsic element of rational tools in use.

Title: Inversing the Powerful: A New Pattern of Strategic Response through Resource Reconstruction


  • Rueylin Hsiao, National Chengchi University
  • Su-Hua Ou, Soochow University
  • Yun Su, Singapore Management University

Abstract: ‘The weak are the prey of the strong’ seems to be the norm of business competition. This research employs bricolage as a theoretical basis, and explores how low-power actors could reconstruct resources to respond to constraints imposed by high-power actors. This article aims to go beyond the previous studies that emphasize resource deployment and combination, and attempts to interpret the alternate process of objective and subjective resource construction, thereby indicating a new pattern of strategic response induced by bricolage. Theoretically, this article proposes an inversing-power model for strategic response that guides resource construction, and recognizes the inevitable weakness of the hard and strong. This model also enriches the theory of bricolage. Practically, this case study suggests lessons for converting foes into friends, innovating at a disadvantage situation, and constructing a symbiotic embrace with key stakeholders.

Title: Stretching as an Interorganizational Practice in the Semiconductor Industry to Face Uncertainty: The Case of the ITRS


  • Gordon Müller-Seitz, TU Kaiserslautern
  • Joerg Sydow, Free University of Berlin

Abstract: Highly volatile industries are often confronted with a paradox: while exploiting existing technological paths by means of well-established practices, novel and yet unknown future technological landscapes need to be screened and opened up in parallel even though the necessary expertise is still lacking. Based upon a longitudinal case study that is informed by structuration theory, we reveal how the ITRS semiconductor network reconciles these contradictory demands by extending the well-established practice of roadmapping to an unknown technological paradigm. The uncertainty that characterizes this unknown paradigm is not only technological; it is also partner-related and procedural. We also introduce the concept of ‘stretching practice’ to highlight this approach to facing uncertainty that is beyond firm-centric.

Title: Superior and Near-Failure Performance in Multiunit-Multimarket Organizations


  • Haibo Liu, University of California, Riverside
  • Dimo Ringov, ESADE Business School
  • Robert Jensen, Brigham Young University
  • Gabriel Szulanski, INSEAD

Abstract: Multiunit-multimarket (MUMM) organizations compete in multiple markets with multiple units that share a common template for doing business. Yet, operating in multiple environments invariably creates a tension between the benefits conferred by high-fidelity replication of the template and the potential benefits of local adaptations. Using a proprietary longitudinal dataset on a large MUMM franchise organization, we find that the more adaptations a franchised unit makes to the core franchise template, the less likely it is to attain superior performance and the more likely it is to suffer near-failure performance. Moreover, the relationship between template adaptation and extreme performance is positively and significantly moderated by the munificence of the local environment a focal unit operates in.

All Sessions in Track J...

Sun: 08:00 – 09:15
Session 252: Trends in Qualitative Strategy Research
Sun: 11:15 – 12:30
Session 392: Non-market Strategy Practice and Competitive Advantage
Sun: 17:15 – 18:30
Session 606: Strategy Practice IG Business Meeting
Mon: 08:00 – 09:15
Session 205: Strategy Making Dynamics
Session 338: Making Strategy, Strategic Change and the Role of Sensemaking and Sensegiving
Mon: 11:00 – 12:15
Session 340: Strategy Practice and Micro-foundations
Mon: 16:30 – 17:45
Session 206: The Role of Middle Managers in Strategy Processes
Session 344: Paradoxical Tensions and Innovative Strategies
Tue: 08:00 – 09:15
Session 345: Social Interaction and Boundaries in Strategy Practice
Tue: 11:00 – 12:15
Session 347: Critical Issues in Strategic Action
Tue: 15:30 – 16:45
Session 346: Management and Strategy Practices Reconsidered

Strategic Management Society