However the process through which these two

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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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