The Process Affordances of Strategy Toolmaking when Addressing Wicked Problems


Studies have examined how managers use strategy tools, but we know much less about how managers create strategy tools de novo. We undertook an ethnographic study of a business facing a wicked problem and investigated the sociomaterial practice of collective toolmaking. We identify how strategy toolmaking oscillates between different problem domains and reveal how this manifests process affordances, which are ‘unintended’ by-products of the toolmaking process. Counterintuitively, by intentionally making a strategic tool, actors unintentionally create a sociomaterial springboard for 'spin-off strategizing' and ‘the discovery of latent ambiguities’, generating strategic value beyond the tool produced. These insights illuminate how the practice of collective toolmaking can stimulate wayfinding, indirectly helping managers to respond to wicked problems, characterized by high degrees of complexity, ambiguity, and indeterminacy.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School > Marketing & Strategy
College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School
Additional Information: © 2020 The Authors. Journal of Management Studies published by Society for the Advancement of Management Studies and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. Funding: ESRC
Uncontrolled Keywords: affordances,strategy process,strategy toolmaking,strategy tools,strategy tools-in-use,strategy-as-practice,wayfinding,Business and International Management,Strategy and Management,Management of Technology and Innovation
Publication ISSN: 1467-6486
Last Modified: 08 Apr 2024 16:44
Date Deposited: 18 Mar 2020 09:04
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Related URLs: https://onlinel ... joms.12572?af=R (Publisher URL)
http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2021-03
Published Online Date: 2020-03-14
Accepted Date: 2020-03-10
Authors: Burke, Gary (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-1625-8095)
Wolf, Carola



Version: Accepted Version

Access Restriction: Restricted to Repository staff only


Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

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