Strategic ambiguity as a rhetorical resource for enabling multiple interests

Jarzabkowski, Paula, Sillince, John and Shaw, Duncan (2010). Strategic ambiguity as a rhetorical resource for enabling multiple interests. Human Relations, 63 (2), pp. 219-248.

Abstract

The literature on ambiguity reflects contradictory views on its value as a resource or a problem for organizational action. In this longitudinal empirical study of ambiguity about a strategic goal, we examined how strategic ambiguity is used as a discursive resource by different organizational constituents and how that is associated with collective action around the strategic goal. We found four rhetorical positions, each of which drew upon strategic ambiguity to construct the strategic goal differently according to whether the various constituents were asserting their own interests or accommodating wider organizational interests. However, we also found that the different constituents maintained these four rhetorical positions simultaneously over time, enabling them to shift between their own and other’s interests rather than converging upon a common interest. These findings are used to develop a conceptual framework that explains how strategic ambiguity might serve as a resource for different organizational constituents to assert their own interests whilst also enabling collective organizational action, at least of a temporary nature.

Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726709337040
Divisions: Aston Business School > Economics, Finance & Entrepreneurship
Aston Business School
Aston Business School > Operations & Information Management
Additional Information: The final, definitive version of this paper has been published in Human Relations, 63(2), February 2010 by SAGE Publications Ltd, All rights reserved. © The Author(s) 2010 Reprints and permission: http://hum.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/63/2/219
Uncontrolled Keywords: academic careers,change,collective action,context,organizational culture,organizational theory,Management of Technology and Innovation,Strategy and Management,Social Sciences(all)
Full Text Link: http://hum.sage ... stract/63/2/219
Related URLs: http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
Published Date: 2010-02
Authors: Jarzabkowski, Paula
Sillince, John
Shaw, Duncan

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