Temporal Interplay between Strategy and Identity: Punctuated, Subsumed, and Sustained Modes

Majken Schultz*, Tor Hernes

*Corresponding author for this work

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Although strategy and identity are recognized as exhibiting different temporalities, research has yet to show how their temporal differences influence their mutual interplay. Based on a longitudinal case study, we make three contributions to understanding how temporal differences influence the interplay between strategy and identity. First, we articulate their temporal differences as differences in temporal structures, defined as the ordering of their past and future time horizons and the temporal depth between those horizons. Second, we show how different combinations of temporal structures lead to different modes of interplay, which we label “punctuated,” “subsumed,” and “sustained.” Third, we show how sustained interplay happens when strategy includes multiple horizons and greater temporal depth, while identity has more defined horizons and a temporal depth spanning the distant past and future. In a sustained mode of interplay, strategy is meaningfully framed by identity, while strategy serves to enact identity. These findings, we argue, have major implications for how organizations can comply with short-term business cycles while addressing long-term concerns.
Original languageEnglish
JournalStrategic Organization
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)106-135
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020

Bibliographical note

Published online: April 30, 2019


  • Longitudinal study
  • Organizational identity
  • Strategic change
  • Temporal depth
  • Temporal interplay strategy identity
  • Temporal structures
  • Temporality
  • Time horizon

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