Track proposal: Strategy as practice: New theoretical approaches EURAM 2006, Oslo Convenors: David Seidl, University of Munich, Institute of Business Policy and Strategic Management, [email protected] Robert Chia, University of St. Andrews, School of Management, University of St Andrews, [email protected] Donald MacLean, University of Glasgow, School of Business and Management, [email protected] Under the label ‘Strategy as Practice’, researchers lately have been calling for a reconceptualisation of strategy as a social activity: strategy is not something an organisation has but something that its members do. This implies on the one hand a focus on the myriad microactivities and interactions in and around the organisation that make up strategy in practice. On the other hand, however, these micro-phenomena have to be seen in their wider social context: actors in their situations are not acting in isolation but are drawing upon the regular, socially defined modes of acting that arise from the plurality of social institutions to which they belong. In this sense the strategy-as-practice approach tries to establish explicit links between micro and macro perspectives. (See the strategy-as-practice website at www.strategy-as-practice.org for more information on this approach and a bibliography of relevant papers in this area). There are many strands of theory that might allow for the development of new perspectives on strategy as social activity. Amongst them are the different versions of the Theory of Social Practices (Bourdieu, Giddens, deCerteau, Foucault etc), Activity Theory, Action Theory, Actor Network Theory, Systems Theory , Complexity Theory, Conventionalist Theory, Discourse Theory and many more. Over the last few years, researchers have started to make use of these theoretical approaches in strategy research. This body of experimental work is naturally characterised by a degree of confusion relating to unarticulated differences in the use of key terms and ideas – for example terms like “strategic practice”, “context”, “organisation” and “outcome” can all mean different things in different approaches. This track seeks to examine the conceptual apparatus of the various social theories that deal with the human actor in social context and explore how far, and what ways, strategy-as-practice research might be informed by them. As an important means of moving the strategy-as-practice agenda forward, we aim to delve deeper into the different theories, explore the different concepts in use and compare their role and value in explaining strategy as social practice. This may in turn lead to the emergence of a distinctive theoretical platform on which to conduct further research, or to debates informed by a richer appreciation of conceptual and methodological diversity operating in the field. In this track we thus call for papers that explore particular theoretical perspectives on strategy as social activity. In particular we expect those papers to set out how the different approaches conceptualise the strategic actor and strategic action; how they treat the interaction between actors; how they account for agency; what role the human body plays in strategic activity; how they theorise the ‘outcome’ of strategic action including phenomena such as meaning and performance; how they address the micro-macro problem; how they account for stability and change; how they explain the emergence of novelty or similar issues. Based on such an analysis we would hope that the papers are able to make explicit the strengths and weaknesses of the different theoretical perspectives. In addition to that we are particularly interested in papers that critique work to date, attempt comparisons between different theoretical perspectives on strategy as practice and signal helpful developments in that regard.