Adapting Managerial Practices for Strategic Change
Realizing IT strategy processes in the public sector is a demanding task for top managers. Public managers often initiate strategy processes in a directive manner due to presumed higher effectiveness, better oversight, and for coordination reasons. However, as the strategy process continues, they often realize that they have to adapt their management behavior and underlying practices by integrating participative manners. Until now, research has paid far too little attention to how the adaptation of managerial practices evolves, even though it is crucial for the success of strategic change.
This study explores how and why top-down-oriented management behaviors change during strategy processes in the public sector. By referring to work by the strategy-as-practice community and applying a sensemaking lens, the study illustrates the importance of three bundles of practices: identity-building, interpretive, and coping practices. The bundles of practices are central for constructing ambiguity existing within the process environment in a manageable way and encouraging top managers to allow for participation of organizational members. The resulting process model illustrates the interplay of the three bundles of practices and their interaction with ambiguity. While this study concentrates on a single case study in the Swiss public sector, the results shed light on the important issue of the adaptation of managerial practices toward participative behavior within strategy processes.