Strategisk selvledelse: Baggrund, potentiale, udfordringer

Siggi Brandt Kristoffersen

Student thesis: Master executive thesis


The thesis draws a link between (i) the multiple social values that confront the public organization, (ii) the specific strategic objectives of the organisation, (iii) its organizational principles and (iv) management instruments and finally (v) the strategic role of the individual employee. In a social context characterized by a considerable goal ambiguity and complex organizational forms, a central issue is how to translate strategy into concrete employee behavior. Empirical results from the Finance Administration at the City of Copenhagen identify a significant room for the individual management strategy summarized as strategic self-management: central to this is the idea that the individual employee is given not only a say in organizing the daily tasks and in setting goals, but is left also with a responsibility for influencing or choosing which strategic direction to persue. In this regard, the organizational vision provides some strategic direction, although by no means organizational alignment. The varying knowledge, interpretation and acceptance of the vision among employees open for strategic differences at the lowest organizational level, which makes the simultaneous persuit of a broad range of strategic objectives possible for the organization. The background for strategic self-management lies in the significant value complexity, in which the public organization navigates. Alignment in the organization's strategic goals will reduce the possibility of simultaneously persuing multiple societal roles and through this undermine the legitimacy of the organization among the population. The pursuit of different strategic goals further create organizational complexity, which leads to overlapping and conflicting organizational principles, among which the employee must nagivate. It is this navigation that opens up a strategic room for maneuver for the individual employees. The potential in strategic self-management can be found at several levels. For the organization the ability to pursue multiple strategic goals creates a broader legitimation base in the population, and the ability to adjust increases when strategic change is decentralized to the employee level. For the employee the strategic influence can lead to greater compatibility between professional and personal values and thus a greater job satisfaction and existential authenticity. The challenges are also legion; first and foremost there is a significant risk of strategic drift, if continuous monitoring and coordination does not ensure that the pursued goals actually stem from organizational needs. Furthermore, in strategic selfmanagement is a prerequisite for an individual room of maneuver, which will be reduced by organizational measures that treat employees equally. Strategic selfmanagement individualizes organizational issues and the individual employee thereby accept an increased risk as part of the working life. Finally, organizational possibilities are to a greater extent given due to the individual's potential, which intensifies collegial conflicts between employees with different approaches to their organizational commitment. The organizational vision is presented as an instrument to square the circle by both maintaining value-adding complexity and simultaneously giving clear directions in daily decisions. In the empirical case it is pointed out that this will require a more active stance in choosing between the many strategic documents in the organization, but also that there is considerable potential in the current Københavnerfortællingen as a strategic framework. At the same time the employees' discussions pointed to a bias in the strategic perspective, which does not to a sufficient degree put administrative quality as a strategic objective - and thereby make the importance of work that supports this goal visible. Like the other elements in the strategic framework administrative quality can be integrated in the citizen-centered strategic perspective through an interest in the public trust towards the administrative procedures. The consequence of the strategic bias in the organizational vision is not only a devaluing of 'administrative correctness’ as one employee puts it. The case also showed that at lower levels of the organization strategy is formulated to fill out blanks in or repair the official strategy. The room of maneuver for individual employees’ strategic self-management is thus challenged by strategies on multiple organizational levels. In this regard the organizational reality can be described as a situation where the number of strategies are constant, more or less. What matters is whether it's top management, peer subcultures or self-managing employees, who fill out the strategic blanks.

EducationsMaster of Public Governance, (Executive Master Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2012
Number of pages58