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Innovation, strategy and identity: a case study from the food industry

Thomas Hoholm (Norwegian School of Management, Oslo, Norway)
Fred H. Strønen (Oslo University College, Oslo, Norway)

European Journal of Innovation Management

ISSN: 1460-1060

Article publication date: 2 August 2011




Current research focuses on the interaction between innovation and strategy process, but less is known about how identity influences innovation and the formation of strategy. The purpose of this paper is therefore to investigate the relationship between organizational identities and innovation with regards to strategy.


The paper is based on the current research stream on innovation and strategy process. The study is based on a longitudinal case study of strategy and innovation processes in a small Norwegian food producer. Through analyzing two different innovation and product development processes in a Norwegian food producer, one related to creative recombination and the other to reproduction of established practice, the paper illustrates how organizational identities influence sensemaking during strategy processes, and thus the inclusion of innovation in the strategy.


Identity can be used as an explanation for why some actions are deemed to be strategic while others are not, hence enforcing or limiting innovation. The paper finds that identity needs to be considered both as a “soft” and a “hard” concept in the process; providing stability while at the same time being up for re‐negotiation. By understanding strategizing and innovating as situated and heterogeneous processes, it identifies how identity becomes a stabilizer and an organizer during emergent strategy processes, and reveals tensions between creative recombination and conservative reproduction.


This paper provides a richer understanding of innovation and strategy formation by suggesting that construction of organizational identity is central to the strategy process.



Hoholm, T. and Strønen, F.H. (2011), "Innovation, strategy and identity: a case study from the food industry", European Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 345-363.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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