Governance architectures are strategic and long-term institutional arrangements of international organizations exhibiting three features; namely, they address strategic and long-term problems in a holistic manner, they set substantive output-oriented goals, and they are implemented through combinations of old and new organizational structures within the international organization in question. The Lisbon Strategy is the most high-profile initiative of the European Union for economic governance of the last decade. Yet it is also one of the most neglected subjects of EU studies, probably because not being identified as an object of study on its own right. We define the Lisbon Strategy as a case of governance architecture, raising questions about its creation, evolution and impact at the national level. We tackle these questions by drawing on institutional theories about emergence and change of institutional arrangements and on the multiple streams model. We formulate a set of propositions and hypotheses to make sense of the creation, evolution and national impact of the Lisbon Strategy. We argue that institutional ambiguity is used strategically by coalitions at the EU and national level in (re-)defining its ideational and organizational elements.