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Xavier Castañer and Howard Yu

This chapter takes issue with what the authors identify as a tendency in the literature to overestimate middle managers’ strategic role, and perhaps more importantly, to underestimate top managers’ role in emergent strategy and the development of strategic initiatives. The authors argue that the Bower_Burgelman model – originally developed as descriptive theory – has been overinterpreted as a normative model. The result is a view of top managers’ role as process architect rather than active participant in emergent processes. These scholars argue that there are circumstances requiring a more substantive role. Crucial to understanding this claim, the authors observe that the unit of analysis – who is a middle and who is a top manager – depends on what level of strategy making constitutes the research focus. The chapter takes a contingent view and identifies four conditions requiring direction from top management in emergent processes.

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Xavier Castañer