What does 'Strategic Discussion' Look Like?


Speaker:Ian Clarke, Director of the Newcastle University Business School and Chair in Strategic Management and Marketing
Date: Wednesday 17 March 2010
Time: 12.00 - 13.00 hrs
Location: Xfi Lecture Theatre

Further details

A Macro-level Comparison of Naturally Occurring Talk Relating to Strategizing in Regular Meetings and Awaydays


Meetings are increasingly seen as sites where organizing and strategic change takes place, but the role of naturally occurring talk in the strategizing process is little understood. The purpose of this paper is to address the absence of theoretically informed empirical studies of strategic discourse in business organizations by comparing its form in two key meeting types: regular management team meetings and 'awaydays'. Synthesizing research from organization studies on the role of meetings and discursive analysis of strategic change with studies of language in the workplace from linguistics, we isolate three categories of factors that shape strategic discussion: (1) the context of discussion; (2) the level and means of involvement of participants; and (3) the means of control over interaction. We investigate how strategic discussion develops using empirical data drawn from meetings of a single management team in a multinational aerospace corporation, and use computational and qualitative approaches to identify and compare them. Our key finding is that the strategic issue being discussed in each meeting appears to have a more significant effect on talk than the type of meeting within which it occurs. Instead, meeting type mediates participation and the ability of the chair to control interactions within the team. The paper concludes with a conceptual model and propositions in order to guide research, and a discussion of implications for practitioners.


Prior to taking up the position of Director of the Business School in November 2008, Ian worked for 7 years as Chair in Marketing and Strategic Management at Lancaster University Management School where he was also one of 17 people selected nationally as a Senior Fellow of the UK Advanced Institute of Management Research, funded by EPSRC/ESRC. He has held Chairs in Marketing at a number of other universities, including Durham and Sheffield. He has been principal investigator on a number of grants funded by EPSRC and ESRC. Prior to working in academe he spent several years in commerce as a strategic marketing advisor and analyst to the main board of a major UK company (Tesco PLC). Ian has worked in, or conducted research for, a number of leading UK companies, including Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Booker, Comet, Halfords, B&Q and BAE Systems. Most of this research focuses on the processes of decision-making and sensemaking within senior management teams.