Planning reconsidered: Paradox, poetry and people at the edge of strategy

Donald MacLean, Robert MacIntosh*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    13 Citations (Scopus)


    The study of strategy is now firmly established in the wider management and organization literature, yet the strategist is often notable by their absence in studies and findings. In this short essay we suggest two main reasons for this. First, strategy research switches between organization, group and individual depending on the level of analysis that is being conducted. Organizations are sometimes inappropriately treated as though they were sentient, and there is relatively little research targeting the individual level despite calls to establish a so-called micro foundation within the field. Second, strategy research also implicitly subscribes to a view of human action that is typically rational or normative. Neither offers a natural sympathy for the inherent creativity of individual action. To address these concerns we introduce both paradox and poetics as a means of revisiting the established problem of implementation failure. In presenting the Strategy Cycle, and by identifying differences in the styles or orientations of individual strategists, we advance thinking on the issue of emergent strategy, suggesting that emergence is amenable to certain forms of influence. The net result is an attempt to move the strategist from a position at the edge of our thinking to their rightful place at the heart of strategy as a subject of academic enquiry. (c) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)72-78
    Number of pages7
    JournalEuropean Management Journal
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015


    • Strategy
    • Strategic management
    • Paradox
    • Poetics
    • Complexity theory
    • Creative action


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