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Opening up the strategy process – a network perspective

Julia Hautz (University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 16 October 2017




While strategy was traditionally perceived as exclusive, and limited to small groups within organizations, recently a shift toward greater openness through inclusion of a larger number and variety of actors is emerging. The purpose of this paper is to adopt a social network perspective to develop a theoretical framework on how this increased openness has a varying impact in the different phases of the strategy process.


The author suggests that the strategy process is shaped through social interactions between individuals. Specifically the author conceptualizes how introducing openness affects individuals’ structural and relational characteristics, which impact generating new strategic ideas (variation), and selecting (selection), and integrating them into the existing set of routines (retention).


The framework shows that benefits and costs of increased openness balance differently. While substantial benefits may be realized in the idea generation phase, costs may outweigh the benefits in the selection and retention phase.

Practical implications

Based on the framework, implications can be drawn on how openness should be introduced in the different phases of the strategy process. Specifically the author discusses appropriate open strategy tools based on social technologies, which organizations can use to benefit from openness in the different stages.


Open strategy is a newly emerging phenomenon, which seems to fundamentally change the strategist’s work. More open, inclusive ways of strategizing offer new benefits but also create costs in the strategy process. This paper deepens the theoretical understanding of the consequences of openness in the strategy process.



The author would like to acknowledge very helpful comments and guidance from Professors Richard Whittington, Michael Mayer and Christian Stadler at earlier stages in the paper’s development. The author gratefully acknowledges the financial support of this project through a grant from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF): P 27445 Crowdsourcing Strategy.


Hautz, J. (2017), "Opening up the strategy process – a network perspective", Management Decision, Vol. 55 No. 9, pp. 1956-1983.



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