Top management takes a role in which strategic change

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Unformatted text preview: ried out by top management (Burgelman, 1983a). “Top management takes a role in which strategic change may take place before it is recognized or acknowledged as such by top management” (Burgelman, 1996: 209). Although for Burgelman, in the induced part of strategy, top management behavior is viewed as a major inertial force, we allow for induced behavior to be also a source of strategic renewal, as suggested by Floyd and Wooldridge (2000).Top management may set the path for change in advance by conveying the strategic intent as the objective function, thus giving it a guiding character. Setting and conveying the strategic intent is understood in this study as the opening stage of the interaction between middle and top level managers. The guiding character of strategy may materialize across a range from the complete formulation of strategy and plans, at one extreme, to the setting of a broad purpose or objective function, at the other. Yet, the idea of top management being able to formulate a complete strategic plan has been proved inaccurate (Bower, 1970; Burgelman, 1983c; Floyd and Wooldridge, 1992; Noda and Bower, 1996). The view of top management as setting the objective function for the organization portrays a more realistic role of strategic direction (Lovas and Ghoshal, 2000). Similarly, for Barnard (1938), the guiding element is the organizational purpose. Its function is to bind the organization together, and in order to do this the purpose must be accepted and believed by potential contributors. In this study, we broaden the definition of autonomous behavior, allowing for renewal to be favored also by bottom-up initiatives that are aligned with current strategy. Hence, the sub-process of idea generation and issue selling may be aligned with the strategic intent. If by combining autonomous initiatives with the firm’s strengths, middle managers generally, but not always, can conceptualize new strategies (Burgelman, 1983c), in our approach we also allow for initiatives to support the objective function. The role of middle managers is crucial in supporting autonomous initiatives from operational levels, from the generation of ideas to the issue selling process (Dutton and Ashford, 1993; Dutton et al., 1997). Arising from organizational members, issue selling can also fall in line with the strategic intent. Burgelman (1991) reserves autonomous behavior for initiatives that “emerge outside of current strategy and provide the potential for new organizational learning (1991: 241)”. Autonomous processes give ground for organizational renewal since they stem from experimentation beyond existing strategy and may come from various organizational levels (Burgelman, 1991). Nevertheless, by restricting renewal as stemming only from autonomous behavior outside the current strategy, Burgelman somehow disregards the power of conscious adaptation (Floyd and Wooldridge, 2000). Accordingly, we consider renewal as a possible outcome of both conscious adaptation...
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