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Unformatted text preview: he initiative was
motivated by two reasons: an emotional attachment of the organization’s participants, and its
feasibility. The attachment was due to the fact that the CEO was able to capture a hidden
wish of the organization’s members and incorporate it into the objective function, which was
deployed into this strategic initiative. The subsequent scratching activity at unit level was
intense, providing ideas and generating the capabilities to put this initiative into practice.
Though induced, this initiative was not imposed. It fitted in with the logic of organizational
members and was proven successful even before it was eventually launched. The
development of this initiative suggests that change can be achieved through induced strategic
initiatives. Successful renewal, involving a new market-product orientation, was done topdown yet was grounded in the organization. The directing role of top management was
crucial in the ‘cascade’ group. It is not that a heroic CEO was essential, but one who was able
to perceive the demands of the social context and enact them. On the one hand, the challenge
was perceived as feasible, and on the other, the initiative was induced and encouraged by top
management. The condition for this to happen seems to be that the CEO’s purpose is clearly
set forth, is grounded in the organization, and is perceived as feasible.
The initiatives from the ‘spring’ group were delivered by line managers, mostly with
a sense of urgency and in response to market stimuli. Scratching was done either immediately
or once the new initiative was already operating. Although scratching could provide the
rigorous and objective analysis needed for legitimation, it generally lacked strategic fit with
the objective function. This is the case of initiative number nine. With no legitimation, this
project was started as an autonomous response from line managers to a market problem. Due
to external events, the capacity installed to sell travel services to household customers was
used for small enterprise customers. This autonomous initiative was allowed, but not
legitimized. It was seen as useful merely to cope with a passing crisis and meet sales targets,
but there were doubts about its fit with current strategic intent. Although it provided growth,
this was not a market in which the company wanted to grow. Autonomous initiatives like this
may be allowed to go ahead, and yet they may not be allowed to grow if they lack fit with the
objective function. In Burgelman’s (1983b) terms, initiatives such as this were not allowed to
determine the strategic context. The ‘strategic context’ reflects managers’ attempts “to link
autonomous strategic behavior at the product market level into the corporation’s concept of
strategy” (Burgelman, 1983b:66). In this study, the corporate concept of strategy, contained
in the objective function, guides the emergence of strategic initiatives from the bottom level,
thus fostering the generation of initiatives consistent with the objective function.
Although the four conditions, i.e. distinct roles, not playing judge...
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- Spring '14