Strategist: Role and Attributes

Strategist: Role and Attributes

Gordon Bowen (Regent's University London, UK & SHS Charity, UK) and Deidre Bowen (Regent's University London, UK & SHS Charity, UK)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1049-9.ch121


This paper is an empirical study of the role and characteristics of strategists in dynamic, uncertain and complex environments. Strategic management research appears to neglect the importance of strategists, and early research considers them to be analysts and thus number crunchers of data. This is not a view that holds true in the 21st Century. Based on a sample of 9 strategists and using semi-structured interviews, the results show that strategists need to focus on interaction across the organisation and develop organisational opportunity routines. Strategists are idea-driven and thus catalysts for change and opportunities. To achieve this “proactiveness” is important and they should be experienced, which implies they are senior individuals in the organisation and thus exhibit leadership qualities.
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How Strategists Learn

Organisational knowledge can be theoretically categorised as tacit and explicit (Grant, 1996 & Spender, 1996). There are other forms of knowledge transactional knowledge (Reagans, Argote, & Brooks, 2005), and procedural knowledge and declarative knowledge (Moorman and Miner, 1998). Explicit knowledge is based on experience and gives rise to “rational” strategy in unpredictable environments. Organisational processes are guided by rational strategies and are responsible for value creating strategies and are more effective than information-demanding approaches (Bingham & Eisenhardt, 2011). Knowledge that is explicit improves process performance over time (Bingham & Eisenhardt, 2011). Organisational routines are learnt from process routines and are patterns of actions that contribute to organisational learning repositories and are linked to lessons based on experience (Bingham & Eisenhardt, 2011; Feldman, 2000; Levitt & March, 1988). A third approach to organisational learning suggests that heuristic is a cognitive shortcut, when information, time and processing ability is limited (Newell & Simon, 1972). Heuristics are opportunity spotters i.e. opportunities to pursue, opportunities to execute, opportunities that are acceptable for ranking and opportunities that should be dropped. Organisational routines are ways to theorise what has been learnt (Bingham & Eisenhardt, 2011). Firms with higher opportunity-capturing heuristics have higher performance organisational processes (Bingham et al., 2007). Davis et al (2009) found the “simple rules” strategy based on a few heuristics is viable in stable environments and a requirement for unpredictable ones. Strategists operate across the organisation and would gain both tacit, explicit, procedural, declarative and transactional knowledge. They are in one of the “best” places in the organisation to develop heuristics routines that have organisational significance. However, this require strategists taking a leadership role, which was not a characteristic associated with them.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Heuristic Learning: The use of simple rules or routines to make decisions.

Strategist: A decision maker that has responsibility for strategy formulation and implementation of strategic plans.

Planning: Implementation and monitoring of plans to meet organisational goals.

Ethics: Moral principles that govern behaviour and actions.

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