In order to be put into action, a strategy requires a massive amount of cooperative processing from the members of an organisation.
A strategy is made real in everyday practices, and all members share responsibility. In face-to-face human interaction, emotional energy emerges, giving the strength that is needed for making a strategy alive. This is why people need to be brought back to the centre of strategy-making.
A doctoral dissertation by Leena Masalin, M.Sc. (Econ. & Bus. Admin.), at the Aalto University School of Business goes to the core of strategy work. It examines the strategy practices that were implemented when two large forest industry companies, Stora and Enso, merged. These practices include quality management, the value process, and management development programmes with their work practices. During the period under study, the traditional top-down management tradition changed towards a more distributed mode of management in which initiatives also move in an upward direction.
A communal strategy is constructed by working together
Masalin's study describes communal strategic agency and the emotional energy operating in the background, which is enhanced in face-to-face encounters. Emotional energy is generated by respect and trust that are conveyed through non-verbal interaction.
The different ways of working together, which shape people and which people, in turn, shape further, hold a key position. For instance, the self-evaluation workshops of quality management, the strategy projects of management development programmes, and free social interaction brought the thought processes of upper management and those of key managers closer together, building a sense of community, and producing empowering emotional energy.
Close attention needs to be paid in managerial work to what kinds of forums and work practices are established for working together within the organisation. Work practices need to offer opportunities for face time, as this allows for interaction which builds communal strategic agency. In this way each person in an organisation can internalize a strategy, commit to it, and act accordingly.
The doctoral dissertation of Leena Masalin, M.Sc. (Econ.), "Communal strategic agency - A Case Study of A Forest Industry Company" in the field of of management and international business will be examined at the Aalto University School of Business on Friday 14 of June at 12 noon.
The dissertation is available as a PDF file.
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