Discursive and social practises in the strategic management of municipal organizations

  • Vaara, Eero (Project manager, academic)

Project: Externally funded project

Project Details

Description

The discourses and practices of ‘strategic management’ have during the past few years spread to public organizations such as municipalities. The experiences have, however, been mixed. There has not been much systematic research, either in Finland or in other countries, on strategic planning and management processes in municipal organizations. This can be seen as a deficiency per se, but also unfortunate in view of the fact that far-reaching decisions are currently made about the structures and collaboration between municipalities, reorganization of services, and the management practices in these municipal organizations. Lately, some strategy researchers have presented critical views and questioned the pragmatic basis for current strategy research. In particular, recent studies have started to pay increasing attention to the communicative discursive aspects of strategizing. These studies have highlighted the ideological underpinnings of strategy discourse, the central role of narratives and other discourse forms in organizations, the importance of rhetorical skills, and the implications that specific conceptions of strategy have on organizational subjectivity and identity. Our study builds on this stream of critical research on strategy. The purpose of this research project is to focus on problems and challenges encountered in strategy work in municipal organization. The academic aim is to study discursive aspects of strategizing and to uncover political and ideological tensions in strategy work. The practical aim of the project is to new social and communicative practices to improve both the quality of decision-making and to enhance participation. Our research project focuses on strategizing in the City of Lahti. We gather extensive ethnographic data on strategizing, including various documents, tools and models used in the strategy process, carry out thematic interviews with people involved in decision-making, and participate in actual strategic planning meetings. As a result, the plan is to produce a doctoral dissertation on this topic, several articles in leading academic journals, and a practitioner-oriented book on strategizing in municipal organizations.
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date01.01.201131.12.2011