Front-Line Managers' Strategizing: A Case Study of a High Street Optical Retailer

Elbasha, Tamim (2015). Front-Line Managers' Strategizing: A Case Study of a High Street Optical Retailer. PhD thesis The Open University.



The present study investigates how Front-Line Managers (FLMs) accomplish strategizing practice and praxes in their day-to-day work at a high street optical retailer (Optica). Despite increasing research on strategizing work, we are still ill-informed about the phenomenon at the lower, non-senior management level. Data was collected over 12 months by interviewing 24 FLMs and four middle managers; by observing FLMs in their stores and during five regional monthly meetings; and by collecting internal documents and external industry reports covering seven years. The data was analysed using thematic coding whereby both the agent’s context analysis and conduct analysis methodological bracketing techniques were mobilised.

Findings from the present research reveal that FLMs strategize by carrying out strategy-realising work in the form of localising practices and praxes. The organisation’s strategy constrains the localising work of FLMs, while their professional experience enables it. The organisation’s strategy is drawn up and enacted in the day-to-day work of FLMs when they are localising.

The present study claims four main theoretical contributions to the SaP literature. Firstly, it advances strategizing as strategy-realising work by defining strategizing as a social strategy-realising praxis that transposes the abstract strategy statement into the concrete conduct. Secondly, it elaborates on a notion of strategy as a combination of external and internal social structure explaining strategy heterogeneity. Thirdly, this research extends current SaP literature by discussing the role of structural context in the tension between normativity and creativity. Fourthly, it advances a framework illustrating strategy-realising as a structuration process, composed of multiple and overlapping structuration cycles. The framework illustrates how structural context and strategic agency co-depend and co-emerge in strategizing practices and praxis. Methodological contributions are made in two ways. First, the present study offers a critical assessment of employing Strong Structuration Theory to conduct empirical SaP studies. Second, it elaborates a data analysis model that combines abductive logic with the agent’s context analysis and conduct analysis methodological bracketing techniques.

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  • Item ORO ID
  • 61284
  • Item Type
  • PhD Thesis
  • Keywords
  • Management; Organisational behaviour; retail; retail managers
  • Academic Unit or School
  • Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Business
  • Copyright Holders
  • © 2015 The Author
  • Depositing User
  • ORO Import