The third group spring represents initiatives

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Unformatted text preview: function, propagated by top management. The third group, ‘spring’, represents initiatives generated to some extent from bottom levels. ‘Spring’ initiatives were developed through autonomous behavior, although at the same time they embodied the objective function. Their main feature is that they were closely related to the bottom level’s daily work; by improving their daily work, the bottom level contributed to the objective function. The ‘spring’ group includes one initiative developed though an autonomous strategy-making process, and two developed partially autonomously. The three groups include five, four and three initiatives, respectively. The major common feature observed among these three groups is that when both top and middle management judged strategic initiatives to be valid and sound, the initiatives were carried out quite smoothly. Given such consensus, middle and top management interplay was resolved and agreement was reached. We have named this common feature legitimation, as this term conveys the idea that strategic initiatives were officially allowed or accepted by both middle and top management. That means that each party’s impression had been validated with respect to which goals were desirable and what course was to be followed to accomplish them. The eleven successful initiatives all had this quality, regardless which group we had classified them in. Legitimation can be described as the property through which a proposed strategic initiative is made official and subsequently is encouraged to be carried out. While initiatives that were supported across the organization had legitimation, three initiatives did not succeed in getting support: the two unsuccessful initiatives and one from the ‘spring’ group. This shows the importance of legitimation. Legitimation validates strategic initiatives through the interplay of top managers and middle managers and subsequently opens the way for the initiative to be developed and put into action. We will explain these three initiatives in more detail further on, but first we will present the mechanism by which legitimation was achieved. Four conditions stand out as necessary for legitimation to occur. First, through strategy-making, each group’s roles must have been clearly defined. As shown in Table 1, the responsibilities of middle and top managers were specific, and everybody knew what they were. Second, at no point could one actor act as judge and jury at the same time. Members of the executive committee, as a collegiate body, either presented a project or judged it, but not both. Third, objectivity had to prevail over any other considerations. Although the political game, as documented in Eisenhardt and Bourgeois (1988), was played, it was not promoted in the research setting. Analysis of possible options, along with reflection and discussion, relegated political activity, as a basis for agreement, to a secondary plane, thus fostering legitimation. Fourth, the main feature of the evaluation and analysis carried out during strategy-making was that it had to be rigorous: analysis, as th...
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