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Strategy Implementation: Practical Activities Implementing the Deliberate Strategy

Autoria: Fernando Eduardo Cardoso, Rosalia Aldraci Barbosa Lavarda

Nowadays the focus of strategy studies is on the investigation of strategy-as-practice or
strategizing (Jarzabkowski, 2003, 2004; Balogun, 2003; Johnson et al., 2003; Regnr, 2003;
Whittington, 2006; Jarzabkowski et al. 2007). Strategic results are found in the daily routine
processes and practices of organizational activities (Johnson, Melin and Whittington, 2003).
For Balogun et al. (2003) the study of micro-processes is an important consequence of the
natural evolution of theories about organizations and their management. The strategy as
practice perspective is concerning players or actors practicing or carrying out practical day-today organizational activities. Since this is a current perspective that emerges from the concept
of strategy, middle managers are considered as practitioners; they can be represented by
supervisors, coordinators, among others who work in middle management. Strategy as
Practice analyzes what people do in relation to the development of strategy in organizations,
providing insights into current issues in strategy that require a more micro level of
understanding (Johnson, Langley, Melin & Whittington, 2007). According to Balogun, Huff
and Johnson (2003) strategic advantage is most commonly found in idiosyncratic routines and
people behavior. Therefore, Andersen (2000) believes that strategies can be formed in distinct
organizational levels; that the process of strategy formation can be either top-down
(deliberate) or bottom-up (emergent), depending on the need of the organization to face the
environment changes. Following these ideas we establish three research question to answer
with this study: Q1) How is the deliberate strategy characterized in the organization? Q2)
How are the practical activities implementing the deliberate strategy? To answer these
questions we adopted a qualitative methodology through a simple case study (Stake, 1995) in
a textile industry in the southern Brazil. Data were collected through semi-structured
interviews with employees from different hierarchical levels; direct observation, with
notebook guide and analysis of documents provided by the organization (like strategic
planning, documents of customer registration, revenues), ensuring triangulation for data
interpretation. The Commercial Area more specifically the process of business strategy was
the stage for analysis. For data analysis was applied behavior patterns examination and pattern
matching integrated (Perez-Aguiar, 1999). The results showed that the strategy in this case is
conceptually defined and formalized in the strategic planning by top management, and it is
formalized in a process that emerges and is legitimated through the middle managers under
practical knowledge of organizational actors. The conclusion of this research is that the
strategy of this organization is deliberate, and it is based on emerging processes. The study
indicates that the strategy as practice takes place in the organization studied through the
actions of implementing the tools: business strategy, Paretto's curve and optimal portfolio, to
reach the goals.

Nowadays the focus of strategy studies is on the investigation of strategy-as-practice
or strategizing (Jarzabkowski, 2003, 2004; Balogun, 2003; Johnson et al., 2003; Regnr,
2003; Whittington, 2006; Jarzabkowski et al. 2007). Strategic results are found in the daily
routine processes and practices of organizational activities (Johnson, Melin and Whittington,
2003). For Balogun et al. (2003) the study of micro-processes is an important consequence of
the natural evolution of theories about organizations and their management.
The investigation of strategy-as-practices provides a new definition for strategy.
According to Jarzabkowski, Balogun and Seidl (2007), this definition proposes that the
strategy which is implemented top down is not enough. All actors in the organization are
involved with the implementation of strategies, not only the actors on top of the pyramid.
According to Balogun et al. (2003) strategic advantage is most commonly found in
idiosyncratic routines and peoples behavior. It is expected that with the formalization and
control of strategy, the organizational actors do not take into consideration their cultural
background and the way they see things not influencing processes and, consequently, the
essence of strategic practice is reduced. The strategies defined by the company must be
followed during the management process. Therefore, Andersen (2000) believes that strategies
can be formed in distinct organizational levels; in other words, the process of strategy
formation can be either top-down (deliberate) or bottom-up (emergent), depending on the
need of the organization to face the environment changes.
In this context, we tried to investigate how the strategy-as-practice occurs when the
organizational strategies are deliberate [concept of deliberate strategy or top-down strategy by
(Mintzberg & Waters 1985)].
We adopted the qualitative methodology to reach this objective (Yin, 2005) through
the study of a single case (Stake, 1995), where we studied the strategy-as-practice in a large
textile company located in Blumenau, in southern Brazil.
The research question we aimed to answer with this study is: Q1) How is the
deliberate strategy characterized in the organization? Q2) How are the practical activities
implementing the deliberate strategy? Q3) How is the role of middle manager according to
Floyd and Wooldridge (1992) typology in the organization?
We expect to find with this study that, no matter how deliberate the strategies of an
organization are, the strategy-as-practice develops from active participation and comes from
the involvement of different actors with different behaviors, characteristics and opinions that
interfere or influence the deliberate strategy by the top management. According to Johnson et
al. (2003), human actors perform this activity in such a way that the strategic result is a
consequence of these actions.
Thus we review in theory how the strategy formation process and the strategy-aspractice occur; then we present the research methodology followed by the analysis of results
and final considerations with limitations, implications and future lines of research.
Strategy Formation Process
Most of the strategy studies concentrate on the macro levels of analysis, as found in a
literary review performed by Johnson and Bowman (1999); in these studies the strategies
involve organizational actions connected to the organization external environment, and are
seen as a the way these can become competitive and successful.
This trend of studies on strategy with a macro perspective was most influenced by
the 1980s period, when Porter (1986) introduced the generic strategy concepts of cost
leadership and differentiation, associating the strategy concept to competitiveness. According

to Jarzabkowski et al. (2007) the past three decades have seen a general discomfort about the
path strategy studies have taken. Since Porters contribution (1986), research about strategy
has been based mostly on microeconomics tradition. This discomfort enabled the rapid
growth of strategy-as-practice (or strategizing) research field in recent years. The main
theoretical and empirical traditions inside the macro approach indicated the need for studies
with a micro perspective strategy in order to find plausible links for the performance and offer
concrete guidelines for managerial actions (Johnson et al. 2003).
Strategy-as-practice started being the focus of attention of some researchers in the
1990s (Whittington, 1996). Nevertheless, Smircich and Stubbart (1985) already presented a
study with a more practical perspective of strategy when they considered that environments
are acted through social construction and the interaction processes of organized actors,
pointing out that people, with their acting, determine hoe strategy will be implemented.
Johnson et al. (2003) defend this change in studies on strategy for a micro
perspective and for the strategy formation process. More specifically, they emphasize the
details of processes and practices which constitute the daily routine of organizational
activities, which relate to strategic results. The perspective of strategy activities and the
formation of strategy are very important for an organization to get benefits such as achieving
and sustaining competitive advantage, and identify and develop a single activity or
competencies which are essential for the organization.
Therefore, taking into consideration a micro-organizational analysis of decisionmaking processes in the organization, we can classify the strategy formation process as topdown or deliberate (Ansoff, 1965; Porter, 1986), bottom-up or emergent (Mintzberg, 1973;
Quinn, 1978; Farjoun, 2002) and middle-up-down or integrating process of strategy formation
(Mintzberg & Waters, 1985; Hart, 1992; Hart & Banbury, 1994; Andersen, 2000 and 2004:
Lavarda, Canet-Giner & Peris-Bonet, 2010).
The deliberate and emergent strategy formation process represents the paradox
extreme of strategy formation. While deliberate strategies represent the formalization of
strategy, being developed top-down and involving only top management, emergent strategies
are associated to processes from daily activities or decisions, such as the participation of the
whole organization and being developed bottom-up.
In Mintzberg and Waters (1985) view, the basic difference between deliberate and
emergent strategy is considering the focus, direction and control. In deliberate strategies the
emphasis is on the central direction and hierarchies, and these are associated to formal
strategic planning, focusing on control and weakening strategy-as-practice, which reduces
strategic advantage. In emergent strategies the emphasis is on collective actions and
convergent behaviors, focusing on learning.
Both emergent and deliberate strategies are important and must be taken into
consideration by strategists. According to Mintzberg and Waters (1985), strategic choice
requires awareness in such a degree that can characterize the efficacy of managers and
On the other hand, the integrating process of strategy formation is that which equates
both processes; it is the sum of deliberate and emergent action (Andersen, 2004, Lavarda,
Canet-Giner & Peris-Bonet).
The integrating process of strategy formation needs a planned and decentralized
strategic process (Andersen, 2004). The planned process is linked to rationality, centralization
and formalization in high levels (Ansoff, 1987). The decentralized strategic process though is
related to participation and involvement of different hierarchical levels of the organization in
the decision making process.
The integrating process of strategy formation makes room for participation due to the
fact that the strategy must not be imposed top-down; it can also come from the strategic

initiatives occurring with the group work (Lavarda, Canet-Giner & Peris-Bonet, 2010).
Therefore, rationality and participation must adjust and integrate, mainly in order to meet the
change needs of the organization and context.
It is important to point out that this integrating process of strategy formation requires
that the middle level of hierarchy be active. This participation perspective of the middle
manager in the strategy formation process has been developed by several studies highlighting
the articulate role of middle managers as the people in charge of this strategic integration
(Floyd & Wooldridge, 1992, 2000; Floyd & Lane, 2000; Lavarda, Canet-Giner & PerisBonet, 2010).
Strategizing or Strategy-as-Practice
The main studies on strategy-as-practice aim to explain how the organizational actors
perform the strategy work through the relationship with other actors, integrating the practices
of the context related to the management process (Jarzabkowski, 2003, 2004 & 2005).
Jarzabkowski (2004) argues that the strategy should increasingly be seen as a
practice, something to be done. The concept of strategy as practice is defined in two
directions. On the one hand is the strategy within organizations, which involves people in all
the necessary details. On the other hand, there are external factors that influence the
organization of society in general and make the ones in charge of business, consulting and
people develop strategic practices that help to adapt the company to the environment it is
inserted. The author notes that the process of making the strategy happen can be seen as a
mixture of action and direction in which the knowledge gained from this interaction causes
the strategy to happen.
We call the attention to two studies of how the strategy-as-practice can be studied.
The study by Whittington (2006) presents a model in which the strategy is scaled as the
interrelation of three themes (praxis, practices, practitioners), and subsequently, the study by
Jarzabkowski et al. (2007) which presents guidelines to be followed for the study of strategy
from a practical perspective.
The studies by Whittington (2006) present the strategy research based on three
concepts: praxis, practices and practitioners. These concepts comprise the integration of
strategic practice. The author emphasizes that it is necessary to understand how strategic
practices are developed and how they are disclosed, both within and outside organizations.
Best practices and effective strategies contribute to better organizational performance.
In relation to the concepts presented by Whittington (2006), the practice is
distinguished as the behavior routine, including traditions, rules and procedures, and praxis as
the current activity, what people do in practice. That is, practices guide the activity and the
praxis the activity itself. Praxis is related to intentio, the intention of every human act (the
central point of the philosophies of existentialism and phenomenology), the direction and
therefore the sense that is given to acts, and it is this sense / direction that should be rescued in
research on strategy-as-practice. Praxis is the way practices are run by practitioners of the
The professionals are the people in charge of carrying on these practices. They are
the ones that design and execute strategies. The author says that those responsible for
supervisory positions also have their participation in the design and development of strategies;
after all, they are responsible for monitoring and implementing strategies and are able to
interfere in the process based on the experiences that have already taken place, whether
positive or negative.

Strategic practices are guided by managers, the practitioner professionals and, as they
put these strategies into practice, there is a return to managers of what is really happening and
what is needed to refine these strategies.
In this study, Whittington (2006) presents some implications on the strategic
practice, among them that people are central to the reproduction, transfer and innovation of
strategic practice and that the effectiveness depends strongly on the praxis, the access ability
and how the implementation of prevailing strategic practices will be.
The model presented by Whittington (2006) is reinterpreted by Jarzabkowski, et al
(2007), explaining the interrelationship between these three elements and highlighting that
strategizing or strategy-as-practice is a common area (intersection) between the actors
(practitioners), shaping the practices that are combined and adapted in the construction of
praxis (human action) daily, in other words, practices being carried out by the organizational
actors (Figure 1).

Figure 1. A conceptual framework for analyzing strategy-as-practice

Source: Adapted from Jarzabkowski et al. (2007, p.11).

According to Jarzabkowski et al. (2007), in order to set the agenda for the strategy
study from a practical perspective it is necessary to answer five questions:
a) what is strategy? According to Jarzabkowski et al. (2007) to answer this question
one must know the concept of strategy and strategy-as-practice. Strategy-aspractice is defined as: "it includes the actions, interactions and negotiations of
multiple actors and the practical situations they rely on for the performance of
activities. It refers to the strategy making", i.e. the construction of the activity
flow through the actions and interactions of multiple actors and practices in
which they are based;
b) Who is the strategist? The definition of the strategy being implemented top down
is not enough any longer. All actors in the organization are involved in the
implementation of strategies, not only the actors at the top of the pyramid; thus
the strategists are all those involved in implementing the strategy;
c) what do the strategists do? This question can be answered through the report of
specific practices such as meetings, use of analytical tools, management
processes, discursive forms and also the implications of these activities for the
d) what does an analysis of strategists and their activities explain? This question is
motivated by two challenges: in the first one, as the strategy-as-practice has a
strong empirical emphasis through which the strategy is built, the result may not
be defined, and the question may arise: what for? In the second challenge, the
strategy-as-practice exposes the strategic activities of micro-level providing

explanations in a broader sense, so that strategy-as-practice research also has

wider implications (macro);
e) How can an existing organization and the social theory inform a strategy-aspractice analysis? Investigation groups focus on explaining who the strategists
are, what they do, why they do it, and how this is a social consequence in the
realization of strategic activity. The common concern of these studies is to
explain some aspects of the nexus between praxis, practices and practitioners
(Whittington, 2006) and its consequences in the fulfillment of social strategy.
In summary, five aspects must be addressed concerning the ongoing challenges of
research on strategy-as-practice. They are: professionals, the connection between practitioners
and praxis, the link between the practice and professionals, theories of practice (which
provide conceptual explanations of the social dynamics involved in implementing the
strategy) and, finally, the methodological implications of different theoretical approaches.
In their studies Whittington (2006) and Jarzabkowski et al. (2007) present a direction
for research on strategy-as-practice. These researches have been gaining relevance in the field
of organizational strategy (Chia & Mckay, 2007; Johnson et al., 2007, Spee & Jarzabkowski,
2009; Lavarda, et al., 2010); however, one realizes that they are not conclusive, making room
for the pursuit of answers to questions that have been raised.
Based on the revised theoretical framework and considering the question Q1: How is
the deliberate strategy characterized in the organization? It was established that: P1 - A
deliberate strategy is characterized by a top-down decision-making process following the
model of planned strategy of Mintzberg and Waters (1985). Considering question Q2: How
are practical activities implementing the deliberate strategy? It was established that: P2 - The
practical activities that implement the deliberate strategy belong to the formal context and
include rules and behavioral expectations, strategic routines and overt episodes following the
concept of practice and praxis of Johnson et al (2007). Considering question Q3: How is the
role of middle manager according to Floyd and Wooldridge (1992) typology in the
organization? It was established that: P3 - The middle manager plays the role of facilitating
adaptability, implementing deliberate strategy (both downward), synthesizing information and
championing alternatives (both activities upward) (Floyd & Wooldridge, 1992).
Research Method
This research is classified as qualitative in terms of addressing the problem,
employing the methodology of a single case study (Stake, 1995). From the standpoint of how
to approach the goals, this research is characterized as explanatory, as it aims to investigate
how the strategy-as-practice occurs when the organization strategies are deliberate.
Case Selection: This study was conducted in a large textile industry, located in the
city of Blumenau, in southern Brazil. The case selection was intentional (Stake, 1995)
considering as one of the characteristics needed for the organization to be the object of study
was to have a typically deliberate strategy formation process.
Moreover, this selection is justified by the possibility of one researcher participate in
the organization meetings to follow the process analyzed, which provides a broad knowledge
of all social groups and a deep knowledge of its policies, culture, history, and environment
(Godoy, 1995), enabling greater data reliability. The identification of the company will be
preserved and the fictitious name of Delta Company will be used. To minimize bias other
researchers follow all the research process.
During data collection, we considered: (i) the semi-structured interview that took
place with three business managers and a coordinator of the commercial area, and that was
held in November 2009; (ii) analysis of documents, which, among the various documents

used, were divided into two groups: the documents prepared by the company and the
documents not produced by the company; (iii) participative observation where, for Yin
(2005), the researcher is not just a passive observer, but assumes his duties in the case study
and can participate in the events under study; we emphasize that one of the researchers in this
study could participate (with previous permission) in the development of activities analyzed;
(iv) direct observation, which for Chia and Makay (2007) constitutes a source of information,
was performed with the help of a diary where the main events occurring during the research
were recorded, and where the changes and developments that occurred during the study
period were shown. In this work the direct observation occurred during the whole period of
the researcher in the company, systematically participating in their daily activities.
We emphasize that the triangulation of data was ensured by using the sources
mentioned avoiding the potential bias from a single source of data, and helping to build more
complete and accurate analyses by converging evidence sources (Eisenhardt, 1989; Yin,
The integrated analysis of different sources of data collected (interviews,
participative observation and direct analysis of documents) was taken. Thus, we adopted the
following techniques of data analysis: examination of patterns of behavior (EPB) and
integrated pattern matching (PM) (Prez-Aguiar, 1999). These techniques consist of
comparing the real phenomenon (pattern of behavior) with the framework theoretical pattern.
Thus, we analyzed the strategy as a social practice through the activities related to
the tool of "business strategy", detailing the actions involved, the functioning of culture,
environment, daily activities of the organization (real phenomenon) and comparing it to what
the theoretical framework proposes (the proposal of study).
Analysis of Results
From data collection, we describe the strategies that are deliberated by top
management (business strategies). Business strategy for Bulgacov, Souza, Prohmann, Coser
and Baraniuk (2007) focuses basically on identifying how to compete in chosen markets these are the strategies that will be put into practice by actors in the organization, guided by
the middle management. From now on we describe how the strategy as social practice occurs
by analyzing the flow of activities that are put into practice and as a result of deliberate
strategy by the top management.
Business Strategies - deliberate strategy
First we identified key business strategies developed by the company, from the
analysis of documents (especially strategic planning) and the interview with the Commercial
The top management of the company, after many turbulent phases and different
processes of change, decided to set a goal of doubling the company's revenue in just five
years, starting in 2007. Before the year 2007 the company's annual revenue was $ 500 million
per year; with the goal of doubling earnings the company is expected to reach a turnover of
one billion dollars by the end of 2011. Among the actions defined by top management, a
consulting firm was hired and the expertise of consultants, directors, managers, engineers,
supervisors and directors was also taken into consideration. With this the company's top
management was able to develop its strategy by answering the questions "what" and "how"
(Jarzabkowski et al., 2007). What to do and how to reach their macro goal (doubling the
revenue). So we now describe the business strategies set by the company. The strategies
developed were:

a) reposition the brand as affordable fashion: the company's brand is recognized by

88% of customers, the brand is strong and has growth potential. Thinking about
product acceptance, the company decided to reduce the price of some basic
fashion products, focusing on the sale of fashion products that have aggregate
b) expand and strengthen the Network Store: through a mapping conducted by
company, the study shows that there is space for doubling the number of stores,
at least. Since studies show that the company's market share is always larger in
cities where they have shops, the company decided to expand the number of
stores gaining an increasing number of consumers of its products;
c) increase the number of stores: the company also intends to increase the number of
stores, usually model stores of larger size, around 200m2 to 240m2, which require
a higher initial investment, including the cost of location. The strategy is to
provide self-visibility of the brand by consumers;
d) increase sales in retail branding: the company has strengthened the sales team the sales representative people, investing in their training and qualification;
e) increase the supply of credit in this Store Network: the company plans to expand
the operation of the card based on a trade deal with the financial institution to
share results and possible risks, and thus enabling the purchase of products in
better payment terms. To encourage customers to purchase the card several
campaigns have been developed, offering discounts on first purchase with the
f) increase the public stock offering: in July 2007, the company issued shares in the
stock market and has since expanded its shareholder base, with a greater free
float, and has actively participated in the capital market. The more solid capital
structure, coupled with the strengthening of the organizational structure, has
allowed the consolidation of investments planned for the coming years, with its
own stores, information technology and industrial technology.
In this first phase, the company conducted research and sought information from the
environment. Many meetings were held in Sao Paulo and in Blumenau to define strategies. A
team of consultants has installed internally to facilitate the process of finding information and
decision making. Depending on the information required and the decision to be made, there
have been several meetings, many of them with the directors, others with managers, meetings
between departments; the whole company was involved so that the strategic process could be
more accurate.
Strategy as a Social Practice
In this second phase, after having defined the strategies deliberated by the top
management, they began putting into practice what had been planned, where we describe how
it happened, and what we categorized as strategizing or strategy-as-practice (Jarzabkowski,
2003, 2004 & 2005).
In December 2008 there was a year-end meeting in Sao Paulo attended by several
members responsible for implementing strategy as a company practice, such as directors and
managers from different areas. On the occasion the company's results and expectations for the
coming years were presented. Subsequently, a plan was introduced to perform the "increase
sales in retail multi-brand" strategy using activities that would be developed by organizational
actors, guided and coordinated by managers (middle managers).
Aiming at meeting the goal set in the strategy of "increasing sales in retail multibrand" the company established three strategic tools called:

a) business strategy: this classifies customers according to store size and

participation percentage of the products in the store;
b) Paretto's curve: it classifies customers according to revenue and number of
registered clients in the company;
c) optimal portfolio: this classifies customers according to revenue and profit
The three strategic tools have been implemented with the help of the middle
manager. In this study, for space limitations reasons and because this is part of a larger
project, we will study in detail a single tool, the "business strategy", leaving the other strategic
tools for other analyses in future studies.
In order to develop the "business strategy" tool, company managers used the studies
of Porter (1986) which is based on the use of industry growth and relative market share.
The "business strategy" was developed by classifying the size of the store customers
and percentage of product participation in the store. The cut-line of the "business strategy"
was established in a store size of 60 meters and a percentage share of products in store by
30%. Both the revenue cut-line and the contribution margin were decided in subsequent
meetings with the participation of managers from each regional office. To develop the
"business strategy" tool, the knowledge of the middle manager was used to set the cutting
parameters (thus achieving the strategy-as-practice Jarzabkowski et al., 2007). With these
parameters defined, it was possible to classify customers in four categories: a) grow in
opportunity; b) grow in participation, c) to defend position, and d) seal (special client).
The understanding of the managers was that (i) grow in opportunity: involves
customers with small shops, and with a small share of the company's products in their store;
and that actions must be taken so that this client can increase his percentage share of products;
(ii) defend position: features customers with a high participation rate, but with a smaller shop
size, and that it is necessary to defend the position of this client so as not to lose it for
competitors; (iii) grow in participation: a class of customers with large shops, but with a
percentage share of products in smaller shops, thus, these customers already have a large
store, and some actions are needed so that the percentage share of products in the store will
increase; (iv) seal: it means the best of a group; in this category are the clients desired by the
company; the ideal situation would be that all clients have this profile because they have both
a large store and a high percentage share of products in the store, which means this client has
a potentially high purchase power.
Based on this practical strategy tool, we created Figure 2, which shows the
distribution of clients considering the classification. Clients can be classified into four
categories; at the bottom, those who do not buy a lot in the company - they are the customers
with a low percentage of participation; at the top are the customers with a high percentage of
participation of products in the store. In group on the right in the figure are the customers with
larger stores and in the group on the left the ones with a small store size. In both groups there
are many different problems, requiring different actions and activities. In some cases actions
and activities are necessary to keep clients in their current profile. In other cases actions are
necessary for the clients to migrate to the next profile. For that, strategic actions and
activities-as-practice were created in order to achieve these objectives, which will be analyzed
in the following topic in this study.


Defend position


Grow in opportunity

Grow in participation


Figure 2. Categories of business strategy

Source: Research data

Activity Flow of Strategy-as-Practice (S-as-P)

In this stage we describe and analyze strategic actions and activities put in practices
that are a result of a larger" strategy deliberated by the top management (increase sales in
multi-brand retail).
We verified that based on the analysis carried out by those involved in the process of
strategy formation (business managers, experts in the field), the necessary actions and their
activities which would be needed to improve the clients' profiles according to the parameters
established by the "business strategy" were defined. Figures 4 to 7 summarize the activities
compiled by the managers.
As for the activities related to the "business strategy" the managers realized the
evolution of clients by stages is necessary, according to the limitations of their store sizes.
Thus the clients classified as "grow in opportunity" will receive actions and activities so that
they can evolve (increase participation) to the "defend position" category, as the size of the
store limits the client's migration to other profiles Figure 3.
According to the commercial manager of the Southern Region:
The company needs to be aware in case of remodeling at the store, such as
increasing the physical size of the establishment, so that in these situations the
company can change the customer's category "grow in opportunity" to "grow in
participation" or "seal.
Activity Flow of S-as-P
in Grow the percentage share of Commercial Encourage with payment term and/or
products in store, making the client Policy
discounts so that the client can buy more
a "defend position" one.
collection products and increase revenue.
Figure 3. Activity flow of S-as-P for "grow in opportunity" category clients
Source: Research data

The "defend position" category clients should receive actions and activities so that he
can defend himself from competitors, Figure 4.
According to the commercial manager of So Paulo region:
This customer profile is limited due to the size of his store, where, as in the previous
phase "defend position", a company must be vigilant in case of remodeling at the
store such as increasing the physical size of the establishment and thereby encourage
the customer's migration to other phases.


Defend Position Keep
the Commercial policy
position against Increase fashion mix

Activity Flow of S-as-P

Encourage with payment term and/or discounts so
that the customer can buy more collection
products and increase revenue.
Fashion products are products with aggregate
value; sales of these products cause a rise in profit
POS (point of sale) POS material must have more quantity and
material support
quality, to keep this customer satisfied.

Figure 4. Activity flow of S-as-P for "defend position" clients

Source: Research data

The "grow in participation" client will receive actions and activities to evolve to a
"seal" client, Figure 5.
in Grow
percentage share of
products in stores
becoming a "seal"


Activity Flow of S-as-P

Encourage with payment term and/or discounts so
that the customer can buy more collection products
and increase revenue.
Participation in Invite the client to participate in the show room, in
order to show the latest news, fashion trends.
Installation of
The corner is a space installed inside the store,
custom-branded with the company's products
Figure 5. Activity flow of S-as-P for "grow in participation" clients
Source: Research data

And the client of the seal category will receive shares with the intention of creating
loyalty. While developing actions/activities, managers thought about the situation of taking
the customer to the next level and so on until reaching an ideal situation where everyone
reaches the "seal" customer profile or "defend position" customer profile, in cases where the
profile is limited to the size of the store, Figure 6. In analyzing the documents of customer
registration, revenues and margins of the company, we can observe that after the
implementation of "business strategy", meetings and events, there was a clear evolution in the
types of clients in both classifications.

loyalty, seal so
as not to lose
the store space

Commercial policy

Activity Flow of S-as-P

Invite the client to participate in the show room, to show
the latest news, fashion trends
Encourage with payment term and / or discounts so that
the customer can buy more collection products and
increase revenue.

Increase fashion mix

Fashion products are products with aggregate value; sales
of these products cause a rise in profit margin.

Figure 6. Activity flow of S-as-P for "seal" clients

Source: Research data

In the words of the commercial area coordinator:

When the team works together with the focus on the goals to be achieved, it seems
that the result comes faster and safer. Thus, the flow of activities planned for each
profile will only occur when there is participation, involvement and interaction of
everyone in the organization in order to reach a previously proposed objective that is
fully understood by all, but can be changed during the process.

Thus, in examining each phase of the strategic process, we find that in the business
strategies deliberate the organization's strategies were defined, as well as which way to go,


and what goals the company had in mind. These would be the deliberate strategies, defined by
top management. In the strategy as a social practice phase, it was when the strategies took
place in practice, where organizational actors had to plan and organize in order to carry out
the strategies set by the top management. When performing the strategies, they (middle
managers) used their practical knowledge to make decisions, influence strategies and even set
up new strategic tools such as "Pareto's Curve" and "Optimal Portfolio". Middle manager
acted as mediator between the deliberate strategies and emergent strategies; no matter how
deliberate these strategies were, they were greatly influenced by organizational actors, often
being remodeled as a result of learning or practical knowledge, coinciding with what postulate
Jarzabkowski et al., 2007.
Summarizing, everything defined in Business Strategies deliberate and strategy-associal practice, was performed in the strategy-as-practice activity flow (Figure 7).
This leads us to believe that an organization with a deliberate process can have an
emergent process of strategy formation and implementation when the flow of activities of the
strategy-as-practice is performed by various organizational actors and led by the middle
manager. Therefore, despite the company having a kind of strategy planned, where the
strategies are more deliberate and thus having a greater control and formalization while
making the strategic practice, this is influenced by organizational actors and becomes
emergent, featuring a middle up-down process as suggested by Andersen (2004).

Deliberate Strategy
Phase 1
Business Strategies







Grown in Opportunity



Grown Participation



Defend Position



Phase 2


Stratey-as-Practice Flows of activity

Praxis Phase 3

Figure 7. Deliberate Strategy Business Strategies and Strategy-as-practice as flows of activity

Discussion of Research Questions and Propositions

Considering the issues and research propositions that were established as a result of
the theoretical framework, we analyze every proposition on the case study.
Considering question Q1: How is the deliberate strategy characterized in the
organization? It was established that: P1: A deliberate strategy is characterized by a top-down


process of decision-making following the model of planned strategy by Mintzberg and Waters
The proposition that deliberate strategy is characterized by a top-down process of
decision making, considering the evidence in the analysis of C1, was confirmed in the
company, and it is still possible to identify the process of the umbrella strategy formation by
Mintzberg and Waters (1985), since we found evidence of "leadership with partial control of
actions, setting strategic boundaries or targets within which other actors respond to their
experiences", as the authors established.
For P1 the deliberate strategy in the case studied is characterized by a top-down
decision making process as noted in the commercial director's testimony:
The decisions made at these meetings are taken to the managements, who become
responsible for putting them into practice, executing the strategic decisions made in
the operational meetings. Prior to these meetings, each direction should talk to their
managers so that they can project three scenarios: optimistic, pessimistic and

The citation "The decisions made at these meetings are taken to the managements,
who become () meetings" shows the top-down process of decision making, and board
directors meet every two weeks to decide which strategy should be followed.
In the words "Prior to these meetings, each direction should talk to their managers so
that they can project three scenarios: optimistic, pessimistic and realistic," it is stated that
decision making is made based on scenarios that are previously prepared in conjunction with
the management. The participation of middle managers in the preparation of the scenarios
show a predominance of the umbrella strategy (Mintzberg, 1985), in which part of the
strategy is deliberate, part is emergent.
The optimistic scenario is intended to show a strategy that should work if everything
goes as planned, and if no internal or external action hurts the economy. The pessimistic
scenario counts with negative factors that can affect the economy hurting the sales of the
company. The realistic scenario is based upon the current state of the economy and on current
market returns - that is to say, on current sales of the company and the economy in the current
period of preparation, researching economic data in order to check if any internal or external
economic change is forecast.
Considering question Q2: How are practical activities that implement the deliberate
strategy? It was established that: P2: The practical activities that implement the deliberate
policy belong to the formal context and include rules and behavioral expectations, strategic
routines episodes and overt routines following the concept of practice and praxis by Johnson
et al (2007).
The standards, rules and procedures were highlighted in the reconfiguration of the
administrative sales department, where every employee had to describe their activities,
whether routine or not, and they also detailed the routines allocating the time it takes to
perform them.
With the reconfiguration it was easier to manage activities, and no employee was
fired; on the contrary, it was necessary to hire new employees to help those who had an
excessive workload.
The description of the standards, practices and routines in the reconfiguration process
shows the formalization of the company's practices in a formal document called "strategic
definition of the position" where each employee can review, study and propose improvements
in the practices carried out and formalized in the company. The reconfiguration also provided
flexibility for the managers concerning the distribution of activities that could assist in the


decision-making process of the organization. With the regulations, the management was able
to identify the analyst who could help the development of scenarios for the decision making.
Final Considerations, Limitations and Future Research Avenues
The objective of this research was to analyze how the strategy-as-practice
(implementation strategy) occurs when the organization adopts a deliberate strategy formation
To achieve this goal we developed a specific case study, in which we seek to
demonstrate the strategy daily in a period of 40 months, following the development of
different phases of the organization's strategy. We concluded that the board re-passes on the
macro strategies of the organization (deliberate strategy) being up to the actors of the
organization (the concept of practitioners by Jarzabkowski, et al. 2007) the development of
activities to implement the strategy coming from the directors, as they, the actors, are experts
in the area they serve by providing better practices, working effectively to achieve the
objectives outlined in the strategies.
The cutout in this study allowed us to study in greater depth certain strategic actions
that were seen as the strategy being implemented, it was possible to know the dimension of
the culture of the organization studied, as well as the daily construction, of the strategy-aspractice (Jarzabkowski et al.2007).
We can observe that although the organization has deliberate strategies, strategy-aspractice is not cast, and has a strong influence of the middle managers of the organization.
The middle managers are the intermediaries of deliberate and emergent strategies, being
responsible for setting the strategy in the company's routine.
We found that the importance of strategy-as-practice is to check what is really
necessary for the organizational objectives to be achieved successfully. The strategy-aspractice can be associated with knowledge, learning, and thus be responsible for a better
organizational performance, through the flow of organizational activities, practices and actors
(bottom and articulated by middle managers).
Finally this study indicates that an organization with a deliberate process tends to
have an emergent process where the strategy-as-practice occurs and can be articulated by the
middle management level. That is, although the strategy is deliberate or planned, according to
the concept of Mintzberg and Waters (1985), when it is implemented through activities and
practices the concept of practices and praxis by Jarzabkowski et al (2007), it has a strong
influence of the organizational actors.
As Contributions and implications we underline that this study can be used in the
business environment and the academic environment.
In the business environment, we believe that our results can contribute to the
strengthening of relationships involving the middle management level in the process of
strategy formation in the organization, since this company was considered one of the Best
Companies of 2010 in her sector, which reflects that the strategic practices adopted have
given the results expected, and even surpassed them.
In the academic environment, we emphasize that this case study contributed to
understanding in depth the process of strategy formation process in a specific organization,
classified as one of the largest textile industries in Brazil,. The qualitative study has gained
strength in process studies. We believe this type of study is valuable for advances in the
scientific field and as a first step towards quantitative studies that can generalize our findings.
The main contribution of this research is the study of strategy-as-practice in an
organization that adopts a deliberate strategy enlacing strategy formulation and strategy


Nevertheless as limitation of this research, there is the question of "the researche's

look", which can introduce biases in the survey, despite the methodological steps taken to
ensure the scientific reply, and the literature review that gave theoretical and empirical
foundation to the matter, if we consider this as the beginning of a path leading to further
research. What happens in a large textile industry has complex dimensions that preclude the
study of strategies globally.
The data obtained in this study, with appropriate precautions and considering the
organizational differences, cultural, regional and temporal, can be used in studies of similar
nature and likeliness.
We can also cite the number of participants in the interviews as a limitation, since
from a total of 30 middle managers five were interviewed, among engineers and managers,
representing 17%. Of the six directors, it was possible to interview one of them, representing
As a future line of research we indicate the continuity of this research, deepening
the knowledge presented here, in the same context of research and in similar ones that allow
comparative studies at a subsequent time. Likewise, it is important to conduct studies that
consider the strategy-as-practice in other organizational environments to enhance the
knowledge on the subject.
On the other hand, considering middle managers as practitioners was not enough
explored here and we indicate that it could be an important category to be analyzed.
Finally, we conclude this study with the perspective of the need for further research
and studies to continuing promoting the development of organizations.
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