Making Sense of a Strategic Initiative: Strategizing as a Maturing Process: A Case Study of Middle Managers in Jensen Denmark

Marie-Louise Brønager & Maren Skrettingland

Student thesis: Master thesis


Purpose: By problematizing the ‘strategy-execution gap’ this study aimed at investigating how middle managers enact a strategic initiative and shed light on possible implications for how middle managers strategize. Methodology: The methodology of this thesis builds on a phenomenological approach. Choosing a phenomenological stance has allowed for a deeper understanding of how middle managers makes sense and engage with practices related to a strategic initiative. The empirical data are based on a case study of a Danish production company, Jensen Denmark. Building on semi-structured interviews our research provided in-depth descriptions of how middle managers enacted. Theoretical perspective: The theoretical foundation of this thesis rest on sensemaking theory viewed from the perspective of strategy-as-practice. Sensemaking theory allowed for an investigation of how middle managers make sense of a proposed strategic initiative, while a strategy-as-practice perspective permitted the identification of the interpretive responses exhibited by middle managers as well as the practices in which they engaged. Findings: The analysis provided four propositions: 1) when middle managers engage in different practices simultaneously, they are more likely to experience problems as salient and problematize their collaboration, 2) middle managers with the same functional position are more likely to exhibit similar pattern of enacted sensemaking, unless they are geographically dispersed, 3) when middle managers struggle to find a change plausible they are more likely to enact based on perceived responsibility rather than assigned responsibility, and 4) when faced with a paradoxical situation middle managers are more likely to enact in direct divergence to proposed changes. Building on these findings, we suggest that strategy should be approached as a maturing-process and managers should pay attention to how they can drive this process.

EducationsMSc in Strategy, Organization and Leadership, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages93
SupervisorsJoana Geraldi