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   Strategic Change Processes   

 Strategy process research is at a crossroads. We are bombarded by an ever-increasing number of strategy concepts and frameworks. Some of these concepts and frameworks are normative whereas others are descriptive. Some are anchored at the individual level of analysis whereas others recognize the collective and distributed nature of strategy and strategizing. It is easy to get lost in this complexity.

The proliferation of strategy concepts and frameworks is perhaps a reflection of key changes that are occurring in our environment. First, the pace at which products, technologies, organizations, industries, and economies are changing is increasing. In some cases, change has become so rapid that a new term has been coined - internet time. Second, interdependencies between economic and social agents are becoming increasingly complex. In many instances, boundaries between once distinct entities are blurring to such an extent that it is difficult to discern where one entity begins and another takes over (Davis and Meyer, 1998; Garud et al., 1998a).

Historically, strategy process has been viewed as a logic used to explain a causal relationship in a variance theory, or a category of concepts dealing with the actions of leaders or organizations (Van de Ven, 1992). These perspectives were sufficient for examining change as a discrete shift from one stable state to another. However, the increasing pace of change and complexity of operation leads us to recognize change as an ongoing dynamic journey, not a discrete event shifting from one unfrozen state to another frozen state (Van de Ven et al, 1999).

Under these conditions, it is more productive to view change as nested sequences of events that unfold over time in the development of individuals, organizations, and industries. In these settings, we are challenged to examine how different mutually dependent groups co-evolve in their efforts. No longer is it appropriate to view organizational change as produced solely by full-blown strategic plans in response to industry life cycle dynamics or as adaptations and partisan mutual adjustments amongst conflicting entities within an evolutionary process (Chakravarthy and Doz, 1992). Instead, organizational change is more appropriately characterized as a ‘duality’ (Giddens, 1979) wherein organizations are shaped by a continual flow of events that they, in turn, help to shape (Garud and Karne, 2001).

Our objective is to explicate this notion of organizational change as duality. To do so, we begin with a review of four basic process theories of change. Van de Ven and Poole (1995) point out that each theory has an implicit ‘motor’ driving change. An explication of these motors provides a way to systematically explore strategic change processes. In doing so, we can generalize insights between settings driven by similar motors. Moreover, scholars and practitioners can generate additional insights by combining motors to explore more complex processes.

 Source : Handbook of Strategy and Management