Schwarz, M. and Balogun, J.
Strategy workshops for strategic reviews - a case of semi-structured emergent dialogues , Southampton, UK University of Southampton
(University of Southampton Discussion Paper Series - Management, M-07-21).
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Given the increasing popularity of strategy workshops within organisations, it is suprising that there are few accounts of this phenomenon. This paper addresses this issue through two in-depth case studies of organisations employing strategy workshops for strategic reviews. The paper builds on the concept of strategy episodes to examine the initiation, conduct and termination of strategy workshops and their role in strategy making in these organisations. A particular focus is on how workshops move through these phases to enable re-coupling of the workshop outputs with the organisations' strategic activities. This paper explores the role of the workshops in relation to continuous change by drawing on the concepts of "semi-structures", "links in time", and "sequenced stops" found to be key elsewhere (Brown & Eisenhardt, 1997). These concepts are used to analyse the different phases of the workshops to show how they can account for the associated flow of activity that involves suspension of the everyday to create space for innovative dialogue, yet also ultimately lead to a shift in strategic direction. The findings suggest that workshops provide an informal, common and recurrent forum for strategic discourse presented in semi-structured emergent dialogues which plays part of the routine practice of strategy making.
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