Introduction: What is strategy as practice?

Damon Golsorkhi, Linda Rouleau, David Seidl, Eero Vaara

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingForeword / postscript

45 Citations (Scopus)


Strategy as practice as a research approach Since early 2000 strategy as practice (SAP) has emerged as a distinctive approach for studying strategic management, strategic decision-making, strategizing, strategy-making and strategy work (Whittington 1996; Johnson, Melin and Whittington 2003; Jarzabkowski, Balogun and Seidl 2007). In recent years SAP research has confirmed its vitality and fulfilled its promise by being more lively than ever (Golsorkhi et al. 2010; Vaara and Whittington 2012; Balogun et al. 2014; Seidl and Whittington 2014). This second edition of the handbook confirms the strong enthusiasm for the generation of new ideas about the way practitioners are doing their strategy work. Strategy-as-practice research focuses on the micro-level social activities, processes and practices that characterize organizational strategy and strategizing. This provides not only an organizational perspective into strategic decision-making but also a strategic angle for examining the process of organizing, and thereby serves as a useful research programme and social movement for connecting contemporary strategic management research with practice-oriented organizational studies. Strategy as practice can be regarded as an alternative to the mainstream strategy research via its attempt to shift attention away from a ‘mere’ focus on the effects of strategies on performance alone to a more comprehensive, in-depth analysis of what actually takes place in strategy formulation, planning and implementation and other activities that deal with the thinking and doing of strategy. In other words, SAP research is interested in the ‘black box’ of strategy work that once led the research agenda in strategic management research (Mintzberg 1973; Mintzberg and Waters 1985; Pettigrew 1973), but has thereafter been replaced by other issues, not least because of the increasing dominance of the micro-economic approach and a methodological preoccupation with statistical analysis. Because of its micro-level focus, studies following the strategy-as-practice agenda tend to draw on theories and apply methods that differ from the common practices of strategy scholars. In this way, SAP research can contribute to the evolution of strategic management as a discipline and body of knowledge with new theories and methodological choices.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCambridge Handbook of Strategy as Practice, Second Edition
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9781139681032
ISBN (Print)9781107073128
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
MoE publication typeB2 Book section


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