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The social practice of co-evolving strategy and structure to realize mandated radical change

Jarzabkowski, P. ORCID: 0000-0001-8674-6628, Le, J. and Balogun, J. (2019). The social practice of co-evolving strategy and structure to realize mandated radical change. Academy of Management Journal, 62(3), pp. 850-882. doi: 10.5465/amj.2016.0689


Our paper shows how actions by senior, middle and frontline managers co-evolve strategy and structure in order to realize a mandated radical change. Alignment between strategy and structure has been considered critical since Chandler’s (1962) study showing that a divisional structure enabled firms with a diversification strategy to dominate the competitive environment. Radical change, a rapid and simultaneous, discontinuous shift in the firm’s strategic orientation, such as its products, markets, and ways of competing, and in its associated organizational activities (Tushman & Romanelli 1985), is a particularly critical point in the alignment of strategy and structure. It is a time when the two move together rapidly and simultaneously (Mintzberg, 1990), disrupting the existing strategy-structure alignment (e.g. Amis et al, 2004; Tushman & Romanelli, 1985), with potentially damaging implications for organizational performance (Gulati & Puranam, 2009). Yet few studies discuss how strategy and structure change together over time (Mintzberg, 1990). Rather, most studies examine the unintended consequences of radical change, such as lags between strategic and structural change (Amburgey & Dacin, 1994; Greenwood & Hinings, 1988), oscillations of strategy and structure (Amis et al, 2004; Greenwood & Hinings, 1993), and structural reversals of strategic change (Mantere et al, 2012).

Publication Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Departments: Business School > Management
Date available in CRO: 20 Jul 2018 08:12
Date deposited: 20 July 2018
Date of acceptance: 17 July 2018
Date of first online publication: 23 July 2018
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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