The Role & Function of Organizational Strategy: A Qualitative Study of how Employees at Norad relate to Norad’s Strategy towards 2015, and what this relation can tell us about the Strategy’s role and function in Norad

Julie Louise Erdahl Skøien

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis is about the function and role of organizational strategy. The research was carried out within Norad, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation, and was aimed at understanding out how employees at Norad relate to Norad’s Strategy towards 2015. The thesis is thus more specifically about Norad’s employees’ relation to the Strategy, and what this relation can tell us about the about the importance, role and function of the Strategy in Norad. The purpose of the thesis is to highlight other roles and functions of strategy than the conventional one, which sees strategy as the responsibility of top management, and thus as something which is in place to make sure employees work towards the organization’s preferred goals. The research is based on the foundation of social constructionism, with data collected through both semi-structured interviews and secondary resources in written form. The analysis and discussion of the data can be characterized by abduction. A summary of the main empirical findings are categorized within three chapters, focusing on employees’ familiarity with- and use of Norad’s Strategy, employees’ knowledge and opinions about the Strategy and employees’ opinions about the importance and function of the Strategy for Norad as an organization. Cultural and institutional theories are argued as useful to understand the concept of strategy, and therefore applied in order to reflect upon the different ways in which employees relate to Norad’s Strategy towards 2015, as well as the Strategy’s possible function for Norad and its employees. The main findings of the thesis are that Norad’s Strategy both manifests a culture which helps employees respond to and deal with issues in their work, and also legitimizes Norad’s work in terms of political frameworks and general assumptions within the field of Norwegian development assistance. The function of the Strategy is thus highly cultural and symbolic, as it both acts as a cultural manifestation that provides direction for Norad’s employees in their work, and as a source of legitimization to the outside. The findings of this thesis are argued to be limited to this specific research at Norad, but may still hold true for the function and role of strategy in other organizations. Key words: Culture, Institutional Theory, Isomorphism, Legitimization, Organizational Culture, Qualitative Analysis, Strategy, Value-Driven Organization

EducationsMSc in Business, Language and Culture, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2014
Number of pages86