Doctoral Student Jenni Myllykoski's PhD defence 12.5.: Strategic change emerging in time

Academic dissertation of Jenni Myllykoski (International Business Management) is presented for public defense at the University of Oulu, Oulu Business School on Friday 12 of May 2017, at 12.00 (noon) in Arina Auditorium (TA105), in Linnanmaa Campus.

Subject: Strategic change emerging in time


In this study, I address the need for an in-depth understanding of the temporal nature of strategic change. Accordingly, I examine how strategic change emerges in time in a small Finnish software company. The data for the study consists of strategy-making discussions with three company managers during the course of two years.

With this study I contribute to process organization studies in general and post-processual strategy research in particular. By following a process-relational view of becoming reality and adopting an “in-time” view of temporality, I add to discussions on the temporal nature of strategy work. The in-time view enables me to examine strategic change as the fluidity of the present, in which both the past and the future are immanent. In addition to highlighting that processuality cannot be reduced to human actions, I follow the notion of agentic time, which analytically gives agency to relational events. With the in-time view, I aim to unpack especially two underlying tendencies behind theorizations of strategic change: first, the overemphasis on managers as the principle, controlling agents of strategic change, and second, the reduction of the complex and fluxing change processes into simple, static models.

With the empirical analysis, I identify five ways in which the agency of time perceptibly manifests in strategic change: unforeseen events, the becoming meaning of events, the immediacy and irreversibility of an emerging situation, the immanent past in the present, and the conditionality of time. I also show the paradoxical tension between organizing processes efficiently over time and experiencing and reacting to novel events in time. Furthermore, I illustrate the multi-event nature of strategic change and show how the managers’ intentionality emerges from within relational events.

In contrast to the prevailing view of strategic change as a pre-planned, future-oriented managerial activity, with this study I add to our understanding of strategic change as a continuous, unpredictable process emerging through the mutually constitutive relation between unowned events and human actions. Accordingly, I argue that temporality should be treated as a fundamental characteristic of reality, which defines the dynamics of strategic change, rather than as an objective background or subjective construction of strategy-making.

Academic dissertation

Last updated: 3/5/2017