The primary purpose of the Strategizing Activities and Practices Interest Group is to advance knowledge and understanding of strategy as something people in organizations do rather than only something that organizations have. This emerging body of knowledge is focused primarily on who organizational strategists are, what they do, how they do it, which practices and materials they draw on, and what the consequences of their activities are. This interest group is concerned with the strategy work involved in strategy development and strategic change, and it seeks to advance understanding through theoretical pluralism and methodological innovation.
The theme of the upcoming AOM Meeting is “Making organizations meaningful”. This theme is prominent in many studies exploring the development and execution of strategy. It encourages us to take stock of the approaches that have been at the forefront of conceptualizing meaning, which lies at the heart of strategy work. It also allows us to consider opportunities to conceptually and empirically advance our understanding of meaning-making within the realm of strategy. The theme also encourages us to revisit some fundamental premises about our understanding of ‘organization’ and ‘meaning’. For instance, we may ask what the boundaries of an organization are and how these shape the ‘meaning’ of strategic actions. Similarly, we may ask which actors are involved in the meaning-making process and whether this is perceived to be appropriate and legitimate. Equally, we can examine the processes or mechanisms that preserve meaning or make certain meanings illegitimate. The area of meaning has been explored from multiple angles, including from cognitive, sensemaking and narrative approaches. This year’s theme of ‘making organizations meaningful’ pushes us to reconsider some of the assumptions inherent in current approaches and to explore new approaches that may offer complementary or contradictory findings.
The theme has much potential, opening up interesting areas of research to advance our understanding of the processes and mechanisms that contribute to or constrain the meaning-making process at the heart of strategy work. For instance, studies may explore the mechanisms that explain the different meanings that strategists, middle managers or other stakeholders attach to a strategic initiative. The theme also offers the opportunity to delve into assumptions about the level of shared meaning across organizational members and how current theoretical approaches acknowledge this. Work conducted under this theme may identify the processes or mechanisms that shape the meaning of strategic actions. Areas like these may be addressed by examining the degree of clarity or ambiguity involved in strategy making or seeking to explicate the mechanisms facilitating the embeddedness of meaning in wider organizational process or systems. In short, the question of how strategy work renders an organization and its actions meaningful warrants closer inspection
For more on the AOM theme, visit: http://aom.org/annualmeeting/theme/. While this theme has obvious connections to SAP research, we are open to diverse interests and seek to engage with new ideas related to strategizing in organizations.