Academy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings includes abstracts of all papers and symposia presented at the annual conference, plus 6-page abridged versions of the “Best Papers” accepted for inclusion in the program (approximately 10%). Papers published in the Proceedings are abridged because presenting papers at their full length could preclude subsequent journal publication. Please contact the author(s) directly for the full papers.

Professionals as Strategists?

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    Many contemporary organizations claim to be moving towards forms of increased inclusion and transparency in the strategy formulation and communication processes. In particular, openness of strategy-making is a characteristic typically associated with pluralistic settings and public and non-profit organizations. This openness raises however the question of how organizations can enable wide participation while keeping a coherent strategic direction. This paper aims then to shed light on how strategizing takes place in professional, pluralistic contexts, supposedly characterized by open participation in strategy-making. Drawing on a case study of an Italian public hospital that introduced a new participatory planning system, it focuses in particular on how professionals participated in strategy work and the tools they drew on to do so. It explores how professionals strategizing was depicted by the organizational discourse, what professionals actually did, how the adoption of a participatory planning system was taken up and what it enabled in terms of strategy work. The study shows how professionals empowerment is likely to be subject to managerial endorsement. Because of this partial nature, we can consider professionals to be quasi-strategists. It also shows that the simultaneous opening up and holding together of strategy may be accomplished through the boundary spanning activities of planning officers and the channelling and organizing roles of formal planning tools. These findings may increase our understanding of how distributed strategizing occurs in professional settings, offering in turn insight into the processes and the conditions whereby open strategy may play out in organizations more generally.

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