Strategy emergence as wayfinding

Bouty, I., Gomez, M.-L. and Chia, R. (2019) Strategy emergence as wayfinding. Management, 22(3), pp. 438-465.

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Strategy researchers increasingly recognize that in many organizations strategic coherence can emerge inadvertently from local coping actions and decisions taken "on the hoof". However, how this actually happens in practice has not been sufficiently examined and explained. We draw from the "practice turn" in social theory to show how strategy can emerge through a process of wayfinding involving local adaptive actions taken guided by an internalized habitus or modus operandi. Small iterative changes made oftentimes at operational levels can generate positive unintended consequences that ultimately contribute towards the emergence of a coherent and viable strategy. We empirically investigate the case of a high-end gourmet restaurant in the extremely structured field of haute cuisine, examining everyday practices, actions and ongoing improvisations made in relation to the individuals concerned, their professionally socialized selves, the unique set of organizational circumstances they face, and the institutional and environmental demands placed on them. We show how strategy as a consistent pattern of actions can emerge from this synergistic interweaving of local coping actions and their unintended consequences. We thus contribute to strategy research by proposing a model of strategy emergence as wayfinding that considers the actors' social embeddedness, their internalized habitus and how that predisposes them to respond by itinerantly interweaving seemingly small coping actions to unexpectedly produce a coherent strategy.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Chia, Professor Robert
Authors: Bouty, I., Gomez, M.-L., and Chia, R.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Management
Journal Name:Management
Publisher:Association Internationale de Management Strategique (AIMS)
ISSN (Online):1286-4692
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 M@n@gement - Revue officielle de l'Association Internationale de Management Stratégique
First Published:First published in Management 22(3):438-465
Publisher Policy:Reproduced with the permission of the publisher
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