The Chair in Strategic Management in Pluralistic Settings was created in 2008 to carry out research on strategic management processes and practices appropriate to “pluralistic” settings, i.e., organizational contexts where objectives and values are multiple and ambiguous, where power and influence are shared among a variety of stakeholders, and where the knowledge required to make decisions is distributed among people at many levels and in different positions.

Some form of strategic management is needed to enable organizations to pursue their missions effectively in a dynamic and uncertain environment. Yet, most traditional models and techniques of strategic management were developed for organizations with hierarchical structures, clear economic purposes and a concentration of power and expertise at the top. So what are the appropriate methods in organizations where these assumptions are questionable? What types of tools are likely to be useful in such settings? How can strategic change be managed successfully where authority is limited and where people have different but equally legitimate ideas about what is important? These are some of the questions that will be examined by the Chair.

In order to do so, the chairholder believes that it is important to learn from the experience of those who are most deeply involved in these issues. That is why the research program of the Chair emphasizes longitudinal in-depth case studies in health care, cultural organizations, cooperatives and the community sector amongst others.

Research Areas

  1.  Strategic change in pluralistic settings

One major interest of the Chair concerns the processes of strategic change in pluralistic settings. Specifically, there is an urgent need to better understand the conditions and processes associated with successful change in health care organizations. With colleagues Jean-Louis Denis (Chaire de recherche du Canada sur la gouvernance et la transformation des organisations et systèmes de santé at l’École nationale d’administration publique) and Linda Rouleau (HEC Montréal)l, the chairholder is conducting research aimed at understanding these issues. The research involves longitudinal case studies in several health and social services centres.

  1. The role of management tools in strategic practice in pluralistic settings

How can traditional strategic management tools such as strategic planning contribute to strategic management in pluralistic settings? With colleagues from the Strategy as Practice Study Group at HEC Montreal (e.g., Chahrazad Abdallah, Hélène Giroux, Viviane Sergi) and other collaborators (Malvina Klag, Maria Lusiani, Eero Vaara, Virpi Sorsa), we are studying this question. We are particularly interested in how strategic texts are developed in contexts where many different viewpoints must be considered, and we are examining the consequences of the way in which texts are produced on the appropriation and implementation of strategy. The chairholder is also conducting research with Maria Lusiani and Viviane Sergi on the diffusion of lean management approaches in the health care sector.

  1. Strategic leadership and top management team dynamics in pluralistic settings

Strategic leadership practices are another area of interest for the Chair. As our previous work has shown, strategic leadership in pluralistic settings is most often collective in nature, demanding the collaboration of several people playing differentiated and complementary roles. With colleagues such as Veronika Kisfalvi, Viviane Sergi, Jean-Louis Denis, Chantale Mailhot, Stéphanie Gagnon, Samia Chreim et Trish Reay, we are studying the dynamics of collective leadership in several types of settings.

  1. Identity work in pluralistic settings

Identity issues are inherent to pluralistic settings. The chair is interested in the issues raised when different perspectives on organizational identity co-exist in the same setting. With colleagues Gwyneth Edwards, David Oliver and Linda Rouleau and students, we are researching the phenomenon in a variety of organizational settings including financial cooperatives, technology startups, artistic organizations, and transnational regulatory bodies.

  1. Methodological resources for the study of strategy in pluralistic settings

The chairholder has written several articles and book chapters on qualitative process research methods which are particularly relevant to the four research areas indicated above. The development of these methods is thus also a mission of the chair. For example, Ann Langley and Haridimos Tsoukas are working on the preparation of a Sage Handbook of Process Organization Studies due to appear in 2016. In addition, the chairholder is coeditor with Haridimos Tsoukas of a series of books entitled Perspectives on Process Organization Studies published with Oxford University Press and associated with an annual international symposium.

  1. Conceptual resources for the study of strategy in pluralistic settings

A variety of conceptual resources can be mobilized for the study of strategy in pluralistic settings. The mission of the chair includes the development of these conceptual resources. The chair is particularly interested in developments in institutional theory, orders of worth, practice theories and processual and narrative perspectives on organizational phenomena.