Sub-theme 05: (SWG) Strategizing Discourse: Strategy-as-Practice and the Discursive Turn

Chahrazad Abdallah
Dept. of Management at Birkbeck, University of London, UK
Kathryn Fahy
Lancaster University Management School, UK
David S. Grant
University of Sydney Business School, Australia

Call for Papers


The "Strategy-as-Practice" (SAP) perspective seeks to illuminate the activity and practice of strategizing by re-conceptualising strategy as something that people do in organizations rather than something organizations have. The purpose of this sub-theme is to further expand the study of SAP so that it includes the study of discursive practices as a means by which to explore the socially situated, day-to-day shaping and transforming of strategy in organizations. Specifically, the sub-theme will explore the production, dissemination and consumption of strategy discourse(s), how these discourses are largely constituted, enacted, maintained or transformed through discursive work, and their implications for work and organisation.

The SAP research agenda connects with the broader "practice turn" in contemporary social sciences by attending to the micro-level of social activity in particular organizational settings and to the location of such activity in relation to broader social, discursive and material practices. This sub-theme will therefore address multiple facets of discourse research including the textual, contextual, performative and material aspects of strategy-related discourses and will also address questions of research design and methodology. Consequently, we invite contributions that will theoretically and/or empirically address, but not be limited to, one or more of the following topics:


  • Subject(ivity) and strategy discourse. Papers focusing on this topic might explore questions pertaining to authorship and participation as well as the nature and interpretation of strategy texts and discourse(s). For example, who writes strategy texts and how? What are the organizational processes related to the writing of strategy? How are different subjectivities and subject positions constructed in strategy discourse(s)? Who "speaks" and who is "silent" in the construction of strategy discourse(s)?
  • Performativity and strategy discourse. This topic is related to the question of strategic intent and to the examination of what strategy discourses and texts accomplish in organizations. Papers might for example, examine what strategy discourses and texts "do" in organizations, and how. They might consider how the success or failure of strategizing activity and practice might be understood from a discourse perspective. They might also explore how strategy discourses and texts are interpreted, appropriated, transformed, and resisted by others in ways that influence their performative effect.
  • Materiality and strategy discourse. This topic relates to the inscription of strategy discourses in material form in a variety of artefacts including strategic plans, mission statements, PowerPoint presentations, intranet communications, newsletters and symbols that are also performed in a range of more or less material organizational settings including meetings and strategy away-days. Numerous questions arise here. For example, what is the role of material artefacts and contexts in the study of discourse? How are these mobilised and by whom? How do they shape and how are they shaped by strategy discourse? How do the material forms, genres and contexts for constructing and communicating strategy influence how strategy is interpreted, transformed, resisted, etc?
  • Methodology and strategy discourse. This topic focuses attention on the different methodological approaches available to researchers where they seek to study strategy discourse and how epistemological perspectives and other factors, such as the analytical level at which the study is carried out, might influence choice of approach. It also examines the broader question of reflexivity in discourse research. We are interested in contributions from a wide range of analyses including, but not limited to, critical discourse analysis, conversation analysis, interpretive discourse analysis, ethno-methodology approaches, narrative analysis, rhetorical approaches, textual analysis, video ethnographies, nethnographies (ethnography applied to online interactions).


Please note that these themes are not exclusive. While we hope that the focus on discourse will prove an inspiration for submitting authors, any work that reflects the general mission of the Standing Working Group 05 to examine strategizing as an activity or practice will be considered. For further information on SAP, please also visit:


Chahrazad Abdallah Chahrazad Abdallah is Lecturer in Management at Birkbeck, University of London. She received her Management from HEC Montreal, Canada. Her research focuses on the discursive aspects of strategy production and consumption with a particular interest in the discursive constitution and dissemination of strategic plans in pluralistic organisations.
Kathryn Fahy Kathryn Fahy is Lecturer in Strategic Management and RCUK Fellow in the Centre for Strategic Management, Lancaster University Management School. Her current research interests focus on discourse and narrative in strategic change and rhetoric and legitimization of radical organizational change. Her past research has focused on practice theoretical approaches to understanding organizational knowledge and learning, and corporate responses to environmental sustainability pressures.
David S. Grant David Grant is Professor of Organisational Studies at the University of Sydney Business School. His primary area of research is organizational discourse, particularly in relation to organizational change and development and leadership. He is a founder and Co-director of the International Centre for Research on Organizational Discourse, Strategy and Change.