Hverdagens strategi: Plan, praksis og kontekstforståelse

Malene Hein Damgaard

Student thesis: Master executive thesis


This thesis examines the relationship between formal strategy and strategic self-leadership in Fællesrådgivningen, a municipal organization characterised by highly skilled professionals and a low degree of central regulation. It is assumed that a binding and dynamic relationship between formal strategy and strategic self-leadership holds a potential for organizational development. Special attention is given to the strategic potential of the so called “Trust Reform” and its implications for a “liberating leadership”. The thesis adopts a social constructivist perspective. Using theories about strategic planning, strategic self-leadership, organizational trust and public service motivation as a point of departure, the narratives of seven employees are analysed and discussed thematically. The empirical data suggests that public service motivation is prevailing at Fællesrådgivningen. The employees value trust as a relational phenomenon, whereas institutionalized trust is viewed with a certain amount of scepticism. Formal strategy seems to play a minor part in everyday practise, but the employees do seem to act on the basis of strategic considerations. Professional knowledge and experience seem to be the most common points of reference for self-leadership. The employees emphasize the liberating potential of being part of a community in the organization. Professionally they profit by contributing and gaining access to the resources of the organization, and they highly value the emotional support of both co-workers and leaders. Freedom at work is discussed using the distinction between bureaucratic and post-bureaucratic organizations. Freedom as autonomy and freedom as potential both seem to be valued by the employees, but most employees seem willing to give up some autonomy in exchange for the increased potential and opportunity associated with the organization and a shared direction of activities. It is argued that the Trust Reform exemplifies the contradictory logic of rationales typical of contemporary Danish public reforms. In the reform trust is not a goal in itself but is perceived as a condition for modernizing the public sector. Strategic coherence may be a way of refuting the seeming paradox of a parallel enhancement of both control and freedom. The thesis concludes that social capital and a shared understanding of “business” as a strategic context for self-leadership is essential for creating coherence between the strategic levels of the organization. A shared understanding may be co-created through ongoing and trusting dialogue between leaders and employees, who qualify to contribute with different but equally crucial perspectives. Coordination, communication and motivation seem to be conditional for leaders aspiring to achieve both adequate formal strategy and strategic alignment in professional action through strategic self-leadership.

EducationsMaster of Public Governance, (Executive Master Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015
Number of pages87