Improving strategic thinking: a multilevel approach

Ingrid Bonn (Graduate School of Management, Griffith University, Gold Coast Mail Centre, Australia)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Publication date: 1 July 2005



Following a multilevel approach, the purpose of this paper is to develop a framework of strategic thinking, which integrates the micro‐domain's focus on individuals and groups with the macro‐domain's focus on organisations.


The paper first defines strategic thinking, outlines its elements and examines some of the conceptual issues surrounding the construct, especially those concerning levels of analysis. The following questions are addressed. What are the characteristics of an individual strategic thinker? What are the dynamics that take place within groups and how do they influence strategic thinking? What are the contributions of the organisational context to strategic thinking?


Strategic thinking at the individual level is discussed in terms of diversity in representational systems. Strategic thinking at the group level looks at heterogeneity and conflict. Strategic thinking within the organisational context examines middle management involvement, the role of organisational structure, and reward and compensation systems.

Practical implications

The paper may help senior managers to develop practical interventions for improving strategic thinking in their organisations. This includes the design of appropriate selection, recruitment and development strategies as well as paying attention to group and organisational level factors that create the enabling conditions for the individual characteristics associated with strategic thinking to be utilised.


The paper outlines a theoretical framework of strategic thinking that integrates previous fragmented research from a number of areas and disciplines into a more comprehensive theory of strategic thinking. It represents an important antecedent to strategic decision making and may provide a key to a better understanding of organisational change phenomena and, ultimately, organisational performance and survival.



Bonn, I. (2005), "Improving strategic thinking: a multilevel approach", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 26 No. 5, pp. 336-354.

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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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