The doctoral dissertations of the former Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and Aalto University Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI) published in electronic format are available in the electronic publications archive of Aalto University - Aaltodoc.

Champion, Citizen, Cynic?
Social Positions in the Strategy Process

Saku Mantere

Dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission for public examination and debate in Spektri/Duo, Luna Auditorium at Helsinki University of Technology (Metsänneidonkuja 6, Espoo, Finland), on the 7th of February, 2003, at 12 noon.

Dissertation in PDF format (ISBN 951-22-6329-7)   [4236 KB]
Dissertation is also available in print (ISBN 951-22-6284-3)


This study is focused on the social positions of individual organizational members in organizational strategy processes. Strategy is a social practice existent in a wide variety of different organizations, influencing, either directly or indirectly, a large number of organizational members. Strategy research has, however, largely neglected the individuals, whose actions and practices make up the strategy process, concentrating on organizations as seemingly homogenous entities. There is even less research exploring the contributions of middle managers and employees acting as strategic agents.

The objective of this study is to understand and illuminate the variety of social positions assumed by organizational members from the CEO to the operative employee level in organizational strategy processes. The research is built around a set of 301 qualitative interview texts from 12 organizations. The interviewees are treated as knowledgeable agents capable of reflecting their social positions and roles in the strategy process.

The data is analyzed in a grounded theory -setting. The data analysis consists of three 'encounters' with the interview texts. In the first encounter, a three-dimensional schema is created for analyzing the social positions. In the second encounter, 20 social positions are identified and explored under the categories of champion, citizen and cynic. In the third encounter, the 20 positions are divided into three performance categories: role-players, role-seekers and bystanders. Roles performed and reasons for not performing a desired role are traced and discussed.

The research contributes to strategy research a viewpoint on the role that the social practice of strategy plays in the work of various organizational members. Through the exposition of social positions and performance categories, it deepens the understanding on why strategies succeed or fail in being enacted by individual organizational members. Furthermore, it allows a large group of organizational members to use voice in the discussion on strategy. The practical contribution of the research is associated with such issues as the communication of strategy, participation in the strategy process, as well as dissent and cynicism in the strategy process.

Keywords: strategy process, role theory, strategy implementation

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© 2003 Helsinki University of Technology

Last update 2011-05-26