Sub-theme 36: Diversity and Inclusion in Strategizing: Integrating TMT and Participation Research -> HYBRID sub-theme!

Theresa Langenmayr
University of Zurich, Switzerland
Violetta Splitter
University of the Arts Berlin, Germany
Janne Tienari
Hanken School of Economics, Finland

Call for Papers

Traditionally, strategy making is associated with organizational elites, including selected strategy professionals who tend to be white men in senior management positions (Knights & Morgan 1991; Whittington, Cailluet & Yakis-Douglas, 2011). In line with wider societal demands towards more democratization, accountability, and equal opportunities in the Global North, there are demands for more inclusion and greater diversity in strategy making (Splitter, Dobusch, von Krogh, Whittington & Walgenbach, 2023; Laine, Meriläinen, Moisander & Tienari, 2023). Two separate streams of research have examined organizational responses to these demands: Research on top management teams (TMT) and research on participation in strategy making (also known as “Open Strategy”). The aim of this sub-theme is to bring together scholars who conduct research on diversity and inclusion in both fields to exchange different perspectives, stimulate integrative insights, and jointly discuss avenues for future research.
The focus of the TMT literature is on the increased demographic as well as cognitive diversity of TMT members (Keeves & Westphal, 2021; Miller, Chiu, Wesley, Vera & Avery, 2022) and its effects on a variety of outcomes, such as strategic advantage, strategic change, team performance, or investor reactions (Wiersema & Bantel, 1992; Mohammed & Nadkarni, 2011; Gligor, Novicevic, Feizabadi, & Stapleton, 2021; Tang, Nadkarni, Wei, & Zhang, 2021). The literature on participation in strategy making (“Open Strategy”), in turn, is interested in increased cognitive diversity through the inclusion of new actors (Seidl, von Krogh & Whittington, 2019). In line with the TMT literature, the assumption is that diversity and inclusion are increased in strategy making to improve performance-related outcomes such as more informed decision making, increased legitimacy, and more effective implementation (Stadler, Hautz, Matzler & von den Eichen, 2021). Thus, while the two streams of literature focus on different actors, they both provide a utilitarian understanding of the topic, referred to as the “business case” to diversity and inclusion. Accordingly, they propagate that diversity and inclusion should be managed to increase organizational outcomes.
Both streams of research largely neglect insights from the broader literature on diversity and inclusion (DI), which offers more critical views and approaches beyond the “business case” (Zanoni & Janssens, 2015; Adamson et al, 2021; Hellerstedt, Umur & Wennberg, 2023). Critical studies highlight, for example, the “normalization of diversity” (Ahonen & Tienari, 2015) and its artificial nature in constructing a façade of “happy faces” in organizations (Swan, 2010). DI scholars generally argue that studies emphasizing the business case are incapable of addressing power relations related to diversity and inclusion in organizations and society. Given the dominance of the business case approach in the strategy literature, important questions of power and exclusion for increasing diversity thus remain largely unacknowledged. Apart from bringing together scholars interested in diversity and inclusion from perspectives of TMT and participation in strategy making, we also strive to explore opportunities for engaging with a critical approach to diversity and inclusion in strategy making.
We welcome studies that explore diversity and inclusion in top management teams (TMT) and in participation in strategy making. Some indicative themes include:

  • What do diversity and inclusion mean in strategy making?

  • What are different effects of increased diversity and inclusion in strategy making?

  • How can actors deal with challenges associated with increased diversity and inclusion in strategy making?

  • How can we embrace a broader variety of dimensions of diversity and inclusion in strategy making? How can intersectionalities of gender, race / ethnicity and social class be introduced into the research?

  • How and by whom can diversity and inclusion in strategy making be managed and controlled? Why so? In what way does managing diversity and inclusion imply domination by corporate elites?

  • What are the power effects of increased diversity and inclusion in strategy making? Do power relations shift? How are shifts resisted? Why?

  • What normalizing effects does the increase in diversity and inclusion in strategy making have? Why?



  • Adamson, M., Kelan, E., Lewis, P., Śliwa, M., & Rumens, N. (2021): “Introduction: Critically interrogating inclusion in organisations.” Organization, 28 (2), 211–227.
  • Ahonen, P. & Tienari, J. (2015): “Ethico-politics of diversity and its production” In: A. Pullen & C. Rhodes (eds.): The Routledge Companion to Ethics, Politics and Organizations. London: Routledge, 271–287.
  • Connell, R.W. (1995): Masculinities. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Gligor, D.M., Novicevic, M., Feizabadi, J., & Stapleton, A. (2021): “Examining investor reactions to appointments of Black top management executives and CEOs.” Strategic Management Journal, 42 (10), 1939–1959.
  • Hellerstedt, K., Umur, T., & Wennberg, K. (2023): “Fooled by Diversity? When Diversity Initiatives Exacerbate Rather Than Mitigate Bias and Inequality.” Academy of Management Perspectives, forthcoming,
  • Keeves, G., & Westphal, J. (2021): “From Help to Harm: Increases in Status, Perceived Under-Reciprocation, and the Consequences for Access to Strategic Help and Social Undermining Among Female, Racial Minority, and White Male Top Managers.” Organization Science, 32 (4), 1120–1148.
  • Knights, D., & Morgan, G. (1991): “Corporate Strategy, Organizations, and Subjectivity: A Critique.” Organization Studies, 12 (2), 251–273.
  • Laine, P-M, Meriläinen, S., Moisander, J. & Tienari, J. (2023): “Feminist perspectives on doing strategy as practice research.” In: D. Golsorkhi, L. Rouleau, D. Seidl & E. Vaara (eds.): Cambridge Handbook of Strategy as Practice. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Miller, C., Chiu, S., Wesley C., Vera, D., & Avery, D., (2022): “Cognitive Diversity at The Strategic Apex: Assessing Evidence on the Value of Different Perspectives and Ideas among Senior Leaders.” ANNALS, 16 (2), 806–852.
  • Mohammed, S., & Nadkarni, S. (2011): “Temporal Diversity and Team Performance: The Moderating Role of Team Temporal Leadership.” Academy of Management Journal, 54 (3), 489–508.
  • Seidl, D., von Krogh, G., & Whittington, R. (2019): “Defining Open Strategy: Dimensions, Practices, Impacts, and Perspectives.” In: D. Seidl, G. Von Krogh, & R. Whittington (eds.): Cambridge Handbook of Open Strategy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 9–26.
  • Tang, S., Nadkarni, S., Wei, L., & Zhang, S.X., (2021): “Balancing the Yin and Yang: TMT Gender Diversity, Psychological Safety, and Firm Ambidextrous Strategic Orientation in Chinese High-Tech SMEs.” Academy of Management Journal, 64 (5), 1578–1604.
  • Splitter, V., Dobusch, L., von Krogh, G., Whittington, R., & Walgenbach, P. (2023): “Openness as Organizing Principle: Introduction to the Special Issue.” Organization Studies, 44 (1), 7–27.
  • Stadler, C., Hautz, J., Matzler, K., & von den Eichen, S.F. (2021): Open Strategy: Mastering Disruption from Outside the C-Suite. Boston, MA: The MIT Press.
  • Swan, E. (2010): “Commodity Diversity: Smiling Faces as a Strategy of Containment.” Organization, 17 (1), 77–100.
  • Whittington, R., Cailluet, L. & Yakis-Douglas, B. (2011): “Opening Strategy: Evolution of a Precarious Profession.” British Journal of Management, 22 (3), 531–544.
  • Wiersema. M.F., & Bantel, K.A. (1992): “Top Management Team Demography and Corporate Strategic Change.” Academy of Management Journal, 35 (1), 91–121.
  • Zanoni, P., & Janssens, M. (2015): “The Power of Diversity Discourses at Work: On the Interlocking Nature of Diversities and Occupations.” Organization Studies, 36 (11), 1463–1483.
Theresa Langenmayr is a doctoral researcher at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. In her research she focuses on diversity and inclusion in strategy making.
Violetta Splitter is a Professor at the University of the Arts Berlin, Germany. In her research she focuses on participation and power relations in Open Strategy.
Janne Tienari is Professor of Management and Organization at the Hanken School of Economics, Helsinki, Finland. His research focuses on, for example, strategy work, diversity and inclusion, and gender and management in organizations.