Edited by Pietro Mazzola and Franz W. Kellermanns
Chapter 6: The Feedback Structure of the Strategy Process and Top Management’s Role in Shaping Emerging Strategic Behavior
Vittorio Coda and Edoardo Mollona* INTRODUCTION The focus of this essay is the nature of a company strategy process and the role played by top managers. Three themes are at the core of studies on strategy process: the interpretation of the process as a purely analyticalrational or as a learning-by-doing one; the top-down or bottom-up nature of the process; and the interpretation of the role of top management in governing the process. The three themes, however, are often ambiguously interwoven. In this chapter, we propose a qualitative feedback model to elicit the connections among the three issues. In our theoretical speculation we propose a number of constructs to support the analysis of the nature of the strategy process and to understand the role of top managers in governing a company strategy process. In particular, the construct of the Strategy in Progress helps to deal with the emergent component of strategic behavior while the construct that we label Strategic Gap supports the analysis of top managers’ capability in governing the strategy process. In addition, a number of feedback structures capture different strategic sub-processes and facilitate the investigation of the connections between top-down and bottom-up elements in the strategy process. As for the conceptual approach adopted, in the strategic management literature, a number of scholars have tried to explain strategic and organizational change adopting the concept of feedback (Burgelman, 1983b; Van de Ven and Poole, 1995).1 A problem that characterizes managerial applications of feedback theory concerns the recurring focus on either...
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