Strategy-making in a Loosely Coupled System: The Guided Evolution of the Copenhagen Business School

Nicolai J. Foss, Peter Møllgaard

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While considerable research interest has been devoted to university governance (i.e., the allocation of authority over decisions in a university), little is known about the formation and content of university strategy and how it relates to university governance and organization. To further our knowledge about university strategy and its relation to university governance, we undertake a process study of the emergence of strategies for the organization of research work at one of the largest business schools in the world, the Copenhagen Business School (CBS), in the period 1987 to 2009. We find that CBS strategy processes in this period followed a “guided evolution” model, in which the top manager (president) invited bottom-up (research) initiatives, and supported selected ones. Such processes are likely to arise in, and be appropriate for, organizations that are characterized by considerable ambiguity, unclear/vague input/output measures, conflicting interests, and substantial heterogeneity in activities, as exemplified by universities. We discuss the benefits and costs of the guided evolution approach.
Udgave nummer1
Sider (fra-til)68-88
Antal sider21
StatusUdgivet - 2020


  • University strategy
  • Emergent strategy
  • Organizational ecology