Strategic change and renewal

Avoiding 'strategic drift'

Strategic drift (or inertia) is a major challenge facing strategists. There are numerous case histories demonstrating that successful organisations can become trapped in established ways of doing things that gradually become 'core rigidities' rather than 'core capabilities'. Further the evidence is that for most companies major strategic change only takes place after such drift and the consequent downturn in performance. This research project has sought to identify successful firms that have not only avoided such drift, but have made major strategic changes without the trigger of major downturn. This has led to an identification of the importance of simultaneously being able to manage the exploitation of strategic capabilities, together with a capacity for exploration and innovation - what has become known as 'organisational ambidexterity'. The research seeks to understand the origins of such ambidextrous capacity and how it links to the avoidance of strategic drift. 

For more information contact Gerry Johnson.


Delivering strategic renewal

This research explores the actions and activities senior managers engage in to deliver strategic renewal through a discourse perspective. Discourse and narrative approaches provide a fruitful yet under utilised avenue for studying mature corporations, and how new strategic intents take hold and spread (or don’t) in organisations, since these approaches emphasize the political, social and multi-vocal nature of complex organisations typically underemphasised in other approaches. The particular focus here is on how managers in MNCs are rebuilding their European organisations to remain competitive a) to deliver new strategic capabilities in integration of action, whilst still retaining capabilities in local responsiveness, and to b) to deliver a new managerial logic of action which doesn't prioritise local at the expense of regional or global. 

An associated project is exploring issues connected with breaking out of strategic lock-in (what is described above as strategic drift). Many organisations never recover from the inertia embedded in historical core capabilities and the associated downward spiral of poor performance. Can, and how do, organisations facing declining performance and the increasing redundancy of existing core capabilities as their environment changes, break-out of this downward spiral?

This research also covers issues to do with radical organisational restructuring and strategic transformation more generally.


Strategic initiatives and change

Much of the work exploring the role of strategic initiatives in delivering change has been focused on how strategic issues are raised and promoted on to the organisational agenda. There is relatively little understanding of what happens to strategic initiatives once they have been initiated and the factors that might influence their ultimate success or failure in creating strategic change. This research project explores strategic initiatives within the context of pluralistic organisations. The goal is to understand how change initiatives emerge, develop, are operationalised and eventually succeed or fail to affect strategic change. Of particular interest is the role of framing – how meanings are manipulated by the proponents and opponents of an initiative – over the life cycle of a strategic initiative.