Whittle, Andrea and Mueller, Frank and Lenney, Peter and Gilchrist, Alan (2013) Politics and strategy practice:a discursive sensemaking perspective. Business History. ISSN 0007-6791 (In Press)
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In this article we aim to contribute to the ‘strategy as practice’ (SAP) field by studying organizational politics from an ethnomethodological perspective. We argue that it is important to study not only the ‘politics of sensemaking’, but also the ‘sensemaking of politics’. Existing research has examined how power and politics plays a role in the sensemaking processes involved in strategic action, yet we have little understanding to date about how power and politics are made sense of in accounts and used by members to conduct their practical affairs. Drawing on an in-depth qualitative study of a multi-national branded apparel company, we show how politics constitutes a key interpretative method through which organizational reality is constructed and strategic decisions are made. We address two key research questions: How can we study politics as an interpretative procedure rather than a pre-existing entity? What practical actions are achieved through such interpretative procedures? The study reveals how a cross-functional team of senior managers used discourse to collectively co-author a version of the political landscape of the firm during team meeting interactions, with practical implications for how the group sought to undertake strategic change. As such, the paper furthers our understanding of the social construction of politics and strategy at the micro level.
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