Perceiving the Present by Means of the Past: Theorizing the Strategic Importance of Corporate Archives

Strategic Responsiveness and Adaptive Organizations: New Research Frontiers in International Strategic Management

ISBN: 978-1-78973-012-8, eISBN: 978-1-78973-011-1

Publication date: 11 February 2019

Abstract

It is commonly acknowledged that history matters in strategy. However, the strategy literature mainly discusses history in terms of path dependency, leaving little room for managerial agency, despite growing anecdotal evidence that managers can actively draw on corporate history to improve decision-making. An emerging literature on how managers use the past to give sense to internal and external stakeholders has given rise to a more agent-based approach to history, but while sense-giving is commonly connected to sense-making as a driver of strategic change, the role of history in sense-making remains unexplored. Drawing on the concept of analogical reasoning, this chapter theorizes the connection between corporate archives and managerial sense-making, arguing that analogies drawn from past experience can reduce uncertainty and foster learning. This theory leads to the suggestion that consulting the corporate archive can promote strategic renewal and thus boost performance.

Keywords

Citation

van Lent, W. and Smith, A. (2019), "Perceiving the Present by Means of the Past: Theorizing the Strategic Importance of Corporate Archives", Andersen, T., Torp, S. and Linder, S. (Ed.) Strategic Responsiveness and Adaptive Organizations: New Research Frontiers in International Strategic Management (Emerald Studies in Global Strategic Responsiveness), Emerald Publishing Limited, pp. 97-110. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-78973-011-120191007

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019 Emerald Publishing Limited

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