Edited by Laura Anna Costanzo and Robert Bradley MacKay
Chapter 17: Hollow at the Top: (Re)claiming the Responsibilities of Leadership in Strategizing
C. Marlene Fiol and Edward J. O’Connor Introduction Leaders in charge of their organization’s strategy face turbulent times that seem to demand more than they can deliver. Forecasts seem pretty useless as a basis for strategic decisions. The business landscape is changing too rapidly for leaders to keep their ﬁngers on the pulse of what is happening in their markets. It is hardly surprising that strategizing has shifted in the past several decades from formal top-down strategic planning either to (i) more emergent bottom-up strategy making, which derives from decisions made by line managers (Grant 2003), or even more extreme, to (ii) the pursuit of whatever ﬂeeting opportunities arise, with virtually no centralized oversight (Eisenhardt and Sull 2001). On the face of it, the shift from centralized strategizing to emergent opportunity seizing makes sense in a volatile world of uncertainty and turbulence.1 The emergent and less formal processes of largely bottom-up decision making may foster greater adaptability to market forces in ways not possible in more formal top-down processes. And the freedom for line managers to pursue opportunities that lie before them may foster pockets of great innovativeness. But what are organizations sacriﬁcing in order to gain greater adaptability and pockets of innovation? This chapter presents the argument that in the process of shifting the strategizing functions down to line management or even largely eliminating them, many leaders have abdicated what we shall argue are their most basic responsibilities, to (i) ignite organization-wide passion for innovation, and (ii) provide...
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