Beyond addiction: Hierarchy and other ways of getting strategy done

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Journal Article
European Management Journal, 2011, 29 (6), pp. 491 - 503
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Hierarchy is habitually presented as the right organizational infrastructure through which to deploy and achieve strategy. We analyze the strategy process, specifically the strategy/execution debate, from the perspective of hierarchy, and contrast the hierarchical mode where top management dominates by separating strategy/ formulation and execution with three alternative modes where the power circuits of strategy extend beyond the managerial elite and are shared by several strategic agents. These three possibilities are: (1) the porous hierarchical mode, in which the hierarchs/higher-ups transfer part of the power for shaping and informing the strategy to the base of the organization; (2) the distributed mode, in which the hierarchs have no direct influence but rather indirect moral authority over execution, and (3) the strategy as simple rules mode, in which strategy/execution is taken as a single iterative process where strategy evolves on the basis of a minimal structure that facilitates strategic interaction and prevents hierarchical control from stifling adaptation.
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