On the Risk of Studying Practices in Isolation: Linking What, Who and How in Strategy Research

Strategic Organization, Forthcoming

Rotman School of Management Working Paper No. 2643856

23 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2015 Last revised: 24 Sep 2015

See all articles by Paula Jarzabkowski

Paula Jarzabkowski

Aston University - Aston Business School

Sarah Kaplan

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management

David Seidl

University of Zurich - Department of Business Administration (IBW)

Richard Whittington

University of Oxford - Said Business School

Date Written: August 12, 2015

Abstract

This paper challenges the recent focus on practices as stand-alone phenomena, as exemplified by the so-called “Practice-Based View of Strategy (PBV)” by Bromiley and Rau (2014). While the goal of “PBV” points to the potential of standard practices to generate performance differentials (in contrast to the Resource Based View), it marginalizes well-known insights from practice theory more widely. In particular, by limiting its focus to practices, i.e. “what” practices are used, it underplays the implications of “who” is engaged in the practices and “how” the practices are carried out. In examining practices in isolation, the “PBV” carries the serious risk of misattributing performance differentials. In this paper, we offer an integrative practice perspective on strategy and performance that should aid scholars in generating more precise and contextually-sensitive theories about the enactment and impact of practices as well as about critical factors shaping differences in practice outcomes.

Keywords: practice perspective, strategy as practice, strategy formulation, strategy practitioners

JEL Classification: L2, M1, M2

Suggested Citation

Jarzabkowski, Paula and Kaplan, Sarah and Seidl, David and Whittington, Richard, On the Risk of Studying Practices in Isolation: Linking What, Who and How in Strategy Research (August 12, 2015). Strategic Organization, Forthcoming; Rotman School of Management Working Paper No. 2643856. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2643856

Paula Jarzabkowski

Aston University - Aston Business School ( email )

Aston Triangle
Birmingham, B47ET
United Kingdom

Sarah Kaplan (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Rotman School of Management ( email )

105 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3E6 M5S1S4
Canada

David Seidl

University of Zurich - Department of Business Administration (IBW) ( email )

Hottingerstrasse 10
Plattenstrasse 14
Zurich, 8032
Switzerland

HOME PAGE: http://www.om.uzh.ch

Richard Whittington

University of Oxford - Said Business School ( email )

Park End Street
Oxford, OX1 1HP
Great Britain

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