Find us on Facebook Find us on LinkedIn Follow us on Twitter Subscribe to our YouTube channel Instagram

Contracted Research

HEC Montreal

The Practice of Strategy

David Oliver; Linda Rouleau; Charlotte Cloutier; Djahanchah Ghadiri; Ann Langley; Pamela Sloan; Alaric Bourgoin; Gwyneth Edwards (HEC Montreal)

Work and Organisational Studies

Project Summary

The mission of the Groupe d’étude sur la pratique de la stratégie (GéPS) is to facilitate the development of collaborative research on the general theme of “Strategy as Practice” (SAP), notably by building on the expertise and interests of several researchers from HEC Montréal, McGill University (Desautels Faculty of Management) and Université du Québec à Montréal. Founded in 2006 at HEC Montréal with initial infrastructure funding from HEC Montréal and FRQSC, the GéPS has since developed, becoming involved in multiple research projects and attracting several new members from other Quebec universities, as well as local and international postdoctoral fellows and Ph.D. students.  During the past three years, the research team support grant from the FRQSC has allowed us to develop and enrich our local base and activities and to be recognized as an important institutional member of the Strategy as Practice-International Network (SAP-IN).

Within the broader strategic management field, the “strategy as practice” perspective is an approach that focuses on the activities and practices of strategizing in organizations (Johnson et al., 2007). As such, it examines the work carried out by strategy practitioners, whether they are formal organizational leaders or not. It considers, for example, the way in which practitioners mobilize the tools of practice or the skills and roles they adopt when engaging in strategic activity (Golsorkhi, Rouleau, Seidl & Vaara, 2015). It is concerned with the routines, interactions and conversations that lead to the definition and enactment of strategy, as well as the linkages between these practices and their organizational and institutional contexts (Balogun et al., 2014). From this perspective, strategy concerns all the organizational practices “that significantly affect both the process and the outcome of resulting strategies” (Vaara & Whittington, 2012: 286). The strategy as practice perspective is oriented around an empirical phenomenon – the doing of strategy – and its research methods are mainly qualitative and include ethnography, interviewing and discourse analysis (Vaara & Whittington, 2012; Vesa & Vaara, 2014). It is argued that a deeper understanding of the activities and practices of strategizing can ultimately enable practitioners to enhance their capabilities and lead to more effective practices (Whittington, 2006).

Several researchers from the GéPS have been centrally involved in the development of the strategy as practice perspective from its beginnings, publishing foundational work in this field (Rouleau, 2005; Denis, Langley & Rouleau, 2007; Johnson, Langley, Melin & Whittington, 2007; Mantere, 2005). Building on this foundation, the GéPS’  scientific  program  was  initially  developed  around  three  main  subthemes  whose  contributions  and evolution during the recent granting period (2013-2017) will be described below. These three themes are (1) Strategy practitioners and their practices; (2) The role of tools in the practice of strategy; (3) Strategizing as identity work. As we shall see, a fourth subtheme emerged during the latest granting period.