New Media and Strategy Research: Towards a Relational Agency Approach

Ib T. Gulbrandsen, Ursula Plesner, Elena Raviola*

*Corresponding author for this work

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A rapidly growing body of literature focuses on the relationship between new media and strategy, and offers recommendations regarding appropriate strategic actions in relation to new media. This paper systematically reviews 130 articles with a focus on the diagnoses they provide and the directions they offer strategists regarding the role of new media in strategy. The analysis identifies four main ways of conceptualizing new media in the literature: as forces in an increasingly turbulent strategic environment; as changing the role of strategists; as tools for strategically engaging stakeholders; and as both increasing and decreasing the control necessary for strategy making. These conceptualizations are based on often‐implicit assumptions about ‘agency’ in strategy: new media are seen either as forces influencing strategy or as tools in the hands of humans, who are portrayed as the agents of strategy. In both cases, new media are black‐boxed, such that their specific properties and ways of becoming embedded in particular contexts are rarely examined. After discussing these assumptions and a limited number of studies that challenge them, the paper develops an approach to strategy and new media based on a relational understanding of agency, an attention to technological affordances and a methodological sensitivity to tracing strategy‐making assemblages of human and non‐human elements. We argue that future research based on this approach will advance our knowledge of strategy making in ways that do not take new media for granted and ways that are attentive to different kinds of agency.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Management Reviews
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)33-52
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

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Published online: 13. August

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