Unformatted text preview: , 1990).
However, the process through which these two organizational levels interact to influence
strategy-making has received less attention. Similarly, the influence of managers on strategymaking has been expressed as either top-down or bottom-up, each source developing rather
independently (Burgelman, 1991). Strategic intent (Hamel and Prahalad, 1989) has been
established as the main top-down source, while issue selling activities (Dutton and Ashford,
1993) have been identified as the bottom-up source. Yet, little theory has been developed
regarding the interplay between these two sources of influence. This paper focuses on the
interplay between top and lower managerial levels, and between their sources of influence, as
a property of strategy-making. Our purpose is to build theory on how the strategy-making
process is used by top management to translate strategic intent into action.
Strategy acts as a guiding element to the extent that the strategy-making process
enables managers to grasp strategy (Guth and MacMillan, 1986). The strategy-making
process has been described as an organization-wide phenomenon (Hart, 1992), in which
strategy formation is neither exclusive to top management (Floyd and Wooldridge, 1997) nor
only a bottom-up, emergent event (Hambrick, 1981). Rather, it is the interplay between these
organizational levels that explains strategy-making (Burgelman, 1983a; Hart, 1992). The
motivation for the present research is to gain understanding of how and to what extent
strategy is translated into action effectively, so that managers grasp strategy. We argue that
the characteristics of the strategy-making process will determine the extent to which
managers use strategy to drive daily action.
We regard strategy-making as intervening between the strategy concept and
managerial action. Following the line set by Johnson (1988), we intend to view strategic
management processes essentially from an organizational action perspective. Accordingly,
strategy-making is not restricted to planning and analysis but is viewed as the broad
organizational phenomenon through which strategy is formed (Burgelman, 1983a). Core to We thank Africa Ariño, Greg Dess, Steve Floyd, Jim Fredrickson, Anne Huff and Michael Lubatkin for their
helpful comments. Financial support was provided by the Anselmo Rubiralta Center for Globalization and
Strategy at IESE Business School. 2 strategy-making, though, is its formal planning phase, as a mechanism for problem and
opportunity identification, as well as for strategy evaluation (Johnson, 1988).
In this study, we examine which conditions can turn strategy-making into an
organizational mechanism for seeing to it that strategy translates into managerial action.
Inquiring into this relationship is important because it contributes to a core issue in the field
of strategic management, namely, how strategy can make a difference by translating
organizational purpose into specific initiatives. Research has emphasized the difficulties that
leaders encounter in aligning organizational action with strategic intent as the objective
function, as identified by Mintzberg...
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- Spring '14
- Management, strategic initiatives