Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Strategy as a form of Problem Structuring

Chandler's (1964) strategy-structure debate has never been conceptually reconciled for the simple reason that research has failed to produce an adequate conceptualisation of the interplay between strategy and structure. An intrinsic feature of this distinction is the complementary distinction between strategy as content and as process. These issues are important as strategy is a concept which is much abused in the everyday use of the concept.  Moreover, as a practice, it is not effectual - despite intent, commitment and resources, strategies are not realised. The more recent shift from a 'resource based view' of strategy to a 'strategy as practice' might have drawn attention to the detail of specific mechanisms, but, nevertheless, still fails to reveal why strategy is still one of the most enigmatic topics of research into business practice. Indeed, despite over 50 years of academic research, strategy is still an enigma.

Recent research into the development of strategy is conceptually grounded in the work of Stafford Beer (Viable System Model), which permits the modelling of a distributed governance structure, allowing the interplay of policy and practice to be explained. It is processually conceptualised as problem structuring methodology, thereby providing a prescriptive approach to the development and implementation of the strategy. It draws empirically upon the Scottish tourism industry and the national tourism strategies.

This work has been published in a preliminary form in Harwood, 2011: Can a Cybernetics Lens Contribute to the Business Strategy Domain? Kybernetes, (special issue: Progress in Organisational Cybernetics) 40(3/4), 507-527. LINK