© 2019 The Ethnography Atelier

Tyrone Pitsis

Professor of Strategy and Organization Studies

Leeds University Business School

Dr Matt Mount

Assistant Professor of Strategy and Innovation

Deakin Business School

The Low-Power Trifecta: Unlocking the ‘Power’ of Low-Power Actors through IT-enabled Open Strategy Formulation

Abstract

Despite advocation for wider participation, strategy process literature is still dominated by perspectives that emphasize the importance of powerful top and middle managers. This study develops a model that focuses on the role of low-power actors that reside outside of management positions and influential departments in open strategy formulation (OSF). Building on a unique dual-phased, mixed methods study of an IT-enabled OSF process deployed in an online payments organization experiencing problems of strategic misalignment, it examines whether, and to what degree, low-power actors should participate. We find that low-power actors are more strategically productive, and generate ideas that are more collectively acceptable and implementable by the TMT and CEO owing to their alignment implications. The study investigates and theorizes the role of power in OSF to advance a process model that accounts for its socio-cognitive effects on strategy.