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Title: A practice perspective on the relationship between strategy legitimacy and strategy commitment in umbrella contexts
Author: Keenan, Peter James
ISNI:       0000 0004 2739 8602
Awarding Body: University of Strathclyde
Current Institution: University of Strathclyde
Date of Award: 2011
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This research examines the relationship between legitimacy and commitment from a strategyas- practice perspective. It questions the normative view within the strategy literature which suggests there is a reciprocal relationship between legitimacy and commitment during strategic change i.e. gaining legitimacy for change secures actor’s commitment towards it, or where commitment is gained, this infers legitimacy to the strategy. The central argument is that the strategy legitimacy-commitment relationship may be more complex than the normative view suggests when this relationship is examined from the middle of the organization, and proposes that middle managers face a dilemma as strategists: ‘is this the right thing to do?’ and ‘will I go along with it?’ A longitudinal case study is presented with qualitative data collected in real-time around the development and implementation of an umbrella strategy, whereby “the broad outline is deliberate, while the finer details are allowed to emerge en route” (Mintzberg & Waters, 1985: p263). The contribution of this thesis is three-fold. First, it shows when strategy legitimacy and commitment are analyzed as multi-variant constructs, they produce multiple types of relationships that are not exclusively reciprocal, but are temporal and shift over time. Second, it illustrates that the type of approach a firm adopts to manage strategic change (e.g. an umbrella strategy) influences middle manager’s practices, which subsequently impact on change outcomes in different ways. Third, it offers a contribution to the portraiture of the strategy practitioner, and presents middle managers as reflective strategists who are acutely aware of their scope for exercising managerial agency under umbrella conditions. This research raises questions about how firms balance generality over specificity when adopting deliberately-emergent approaches, how they reconcile differences between strategists’ from plural institutions, manage discretionary practices, and whether guidance should be offered on simultanously managing legitimacy and commitment when evaluations are prone to fluctuation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available