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A Bourdieusian Perspective on Strategizing

Marie-Léandre Gomez ()
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Marie-Léandre Gomez: ESSEC Business School, Postal: Avenue Bernard Hirsch - BP 50105, 95021 CERGY-PONTOISE Cedex, FRANCE, http://www.essec.edu

No DR 07024, ESSEC Working Papers from ESSEC Research Center, ESSEC Business School

Abstract: The use and the study of ‘practice’ has been widely developed in organization and strategic management research as an intermediary level of analysis between individuals, organizations, market fields and institutions. Bourdieu’s work has been largely mobilized in these studies, particularly within the attempt to define practice, for example by Jarzabkowski (2004), Johnson et al. (2003), Whittington (1996, 2006), Chia and Holt (2006). However, as asserted by Chia (2004), “advocates of practice-based approaches to strategy research may have underestimated the radical implications of the work of practice social theorists such as Bourdieu […] who they rely upon to justify this turn to practice” (Chia 2004: 30). Yet, authors mainly base on the characteristics of practice and on the relation between practice and habitus to understand how individuals develop their practical capacity to strategizing, but they mainly remain at a descriptive stage. They do not take into account the complete possibilities of the framework, mainly because they neglect the concept of field, which is nevertheless essential to understand the link between individuals and action. As Bourdieu puts it, “the ‘subject’ of what is sometimes called ‘company policy’ is quite simply the field of the firm or, put it more precisely, the structure of the relation of force between the different agents that belong to the firm”(Bourdieu 2005: 69). This highlights the struggling nature of strategy as a practice, a struggle for power, a political fight over time between agents. The aim of this paper is to propose a comprehensive perspective on practice by taking into consideration the core notions of field and habitus. I propose to consider strategizing as a practice. This emphasizes the ‘doing’ of multiple agents; the embodied and tacit aspects; the symbolic violence and power issues at stake. As a consequence, strategizing refers to the practice of motivated agents engaged in struggles and to account more completely for the relation of forces (and their development) between them.

Keywords: Bourdieu; Domination; Field; Habitus; Managers; Practice; Strategy (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: L10 L20 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 21 pages
Date: 2007-09
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