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Conference Papers Year : 2007

A Practice-based analysis of technological strategy formulation: Spanning levels between middle and top management


The research in the area of strategy as practice provides us with detailed descriptions of strategy making and executing (Whittington 1996, 2003). Research works focusing on organizational issues stress that, on the one hand, the strategy deployment often leads to the implementation of an adapted organizational structure, and on the other hand the company organization, because of its own routines and processes, creates some paths dependency giving access to some strategies and making others impossible. Works on strategizing (Wilson et al. 2004) attempt to look at the link between strategy and organization in a more integrated way. To keep progressing further on the understanding of this link, we believe that the strategic management of innovation is a good field of investigation. Indeed, innovation management is a strategic issue as it affects the market position, the involved partners, the related business model, etc. But developing innovations also requires an adequate organization that allows the company to develop new skills and capabilities and address the targeted market. We can then say that Strategic Management of Innovation lies into defining the right organization to develop the innovations and organizing the right decision making processes related to development of new offers and new markets In this article, we aim at highlighting the link between organization and strategy, using innovation management, as a field of observation that reveals some of the key elements to capture. We analyze the creation of an organizational entity, called "domain of innovation"; a key actor in the strategy of innovation making and executing. In the literature on strategic management of innovation, research works have already stressed how an organizational structure can hinder some innovative strategies because core competencies are also core rigidities (Dougherty 1992, Leonard Barton 1995), some have proposed organizational model, such as ambidextrous organization, that should enable access to a wider set of innovative technologies and products (Tushmann 0'Reilly, 1997). But they haven't analyzed the strategizing process leading a firm to position on new products and how and where it takes place. Other works have more deeply investigated the strategizing process, (Burgelman 2002) and have stressed the path dependency and the emerging character of technology trajectories but they have not analyzed the organizational routines, roles, and managing tools on which these are based. To go further, we propose to analyze the practice and the activities developed by this new organizational entity. This entity is transversal to the business units of a multibusiness firm. How a technological strategy emerges in coupling projects, analysis of market trends and processes of technical competence building? We aim at understanding the strategy making in a multibusiness firm at a team level perspective following Regner 2003, Jarzabkowski 2004 and Paroutis et al. 2005. Our research is based on a longitudinal and qualitative methodology. It takes place within an automotive 1st tier supplier belonging to the worldwide top 15 suppliers. This multidivisional firm is competitive in the development of new components, systems and modules as well as in manufacturing. The strategic objective of the firm was to accelerate its growth by developing new offers (eg. products, services, etc.) that needed to combine competences, located in different divisions of the firm, as well as with competences located outside of the firm. To make this happening, the company created a new organizational entity called the "domain of innovation" on a new perimeter across divisions. The mission of this entity is to develop the innovation capacities of the firm, to enable breakthrough innovations and to manage innovation both at a strategic level and an operational level. It is in charge of the development of prototypes, of new technologies, of the establishment partnerships with other supplier and with customers for new offers, as well as of the definition of a technological roadmap for the company on this perimeter. The organizational entity consists of a team of 10 people including marketing and R&D function, each of them belonging to one of the 6 involved divisions. It is positioned very high in the company hierarchy. A champion was nominated to lead the group and to report to the board of the firm. We took part during 18 months to the work of this group since its creation. Our participation to weekly meetings and our interviews with the main actors enable us to get an accurate view on the way this entity structured its activity and on the links established with the divisions and with the corporate level of the firm. This organizational entity is, the cornerstone that links strategy to the organization. It is thus a good case to observe and describe the way this link is being built. In our analysis of this organization, we map out the processes of the generation and the selection of projects, the market analysis, the prototypes development, the identification and evaluation of M&A possibilities, that constitute the strategizing process.
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Dates and versions

hal-00659467 , version 1 (12-01-2012)


  • HAL Id : hal-00659467 , version 1


Sihem Ben Mahmoud-Jouini, Florence Charue-Duboc. A Practice-based analysis of technological strategy formulation: Spanning levels between middle and top management. EGOS conference, Jul 2007, Vienne, Austria. ⟨hal-00659467⟩


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