P35 Strategic planning and strategy management-at-scale for robust governance

Corresponding and Review group chair

Bert George, City University of Hong Kong, Associate Professor, brgeorge@cityu.edu.hk


Sara Brorström, University of Gothenburg, Professor

Barbara Crosby, University of Minnesota, Associate Professor Emerita

John M Bryson, University of Minnesota, Emeritus McKnight Presidential Professor

Åge Johnsen, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Professor

Eva Sørensen, Roskilde University, Professor

David Špaček, Masaryk University, Associate Professor


Strategic planning and management are well-established features of public and nonprofit organizations. There is now substantial research evidence that strategic planning and management can positively affect organizational performance. As an approach, strategic planning can help public and non-profit organizations, collaborations and communities identify what they want to achieve, how and why. Strategic management links planning to ongoing implementation. At its best, strategic management fosters ongoing strategic thinking, acting, and learning so that challenges – including those that are beyond a single organization’s control – are effectively identified and addressed.  Strategizing thus becomes a continuous activity, not limited to formal strategic planning efforts.

Increasingly, however, public and nonprofit organizations are called on to address challenges that go far beyond the organizations’ boundaries and direct control. In other words, there is a significant mismatch between the scale of the challenges and what any single organization can do to address them. Unfortunately, there is little evidence and not enough theorizing about how strategic planning and strategy management at the scale of these cross-organizational challenges can lead to better outcomes and greater public value. Researchers and practitioners have long understood that strategic planning and strategizing more generally must be tailored to the context within which it occurs, even as these efforts attempt to change something about the context. Context in this sense is both about the static complexity of a given place and the dynamic temporality of phenomena; in other words – how to strategically manage a moving target (which is what robust governance is about). What is it about this new context that requires adaptations or rethinking of strategic planning and management, and what kinds of adaptations are necessary? How can strategic planning and management contribute to robust governance in these larger systems of challenging situations wherein multiple organizations and groups are affected, involved, or have some responsibility to act?

To create public value, public organizations increasingly strategize in co-operation with for-profit and non-profit organizations, collaborations and networks, and even communities, resulting in "hybrid governance.” Such hybrid governance is becoming quite common, in part as a consequence of the changed issue context and more recent public governance and management movements (e.g., New Public Governance, Public Value Governance). This panel seeks to identify the value of strategic planning and management-at-scale in managing cross-level and cross-organizational challenges and the hybrid governance approaches that result. What kinds of changes are needed – and effective – for addressing the issue challenges and hybrid governance challenges? Strategic planning and management involve various social practices and a variety of tools and techniques. These practices are concerned with issue identification and strategy management via political, substantive, and procedural rationality; procedural justice; horizontal and vertical accountability; efficient, effective, and equitable performance; and problem-solving capacity enhancement. In the new context of mismatch between what individual organizations can do to address issues far beyond their competence, what has to change about these practices, tools and techniques, and organizational and institutional arrangement?

The core purpose of this panel is to look at which configurations of strategic planning and management-at-scale might be most useful for addressing big challenges and managing hybridity when more than a single organization is involved.  Among other factors, configurations can include specific types of issues, stakeholders. strategy tools used or processes adopted, and organizational and institutional arrangements, as well as different outcomes achieved (or not). Managing hybridity should also be interpreted broadly, including any type of involvement from and/or relationship with parties outside of the “traditional” organization.

Sub-topics: Strategic planning, strategic management, strategizing, strategy, governance.


Abstracts should clearly indicate how they link to the overall theme of the panel. They should include a research question as well as an elaboration about which methods will be used to answer that question (e.g. literature review, empirical or case setting, overall research method, data collection and analysis procedure), initial results if already available, and a discussion of the main contribution to the literature. Example questions that could be included in abstract submissions:

  • How do strategic planning and strategy management-at-scale differ from strategic planning and management for an organization? Are different kinds of approaches, practices, tools, and techniques involved? How do leadership, resourcing, elaboration, performance management, or other kinds of processes change?
  • How are strategic planning and management “opened” up or “closed” down to others outside of the organization in response to specific kinds of challenges? How does co-creation enter in, or does it?
  • Can strategic planning and strategy management-at-scale help public organizations govern and manage hybridity better? If so, how?
  • When do strategic planning and strategy management-at-scale enhance efforts to collaborate with other entities, and when does it hinder such efforts?
  • Can strategic planning and strategy management-at-scale become useful tools for engaging with other entities where there is no hierarchical relationship – as, for instance, in communities of interest or place, citizen initiatives, and social movements?

Our panel is agnostic as to the research approach and method used by paper authors. However, the approach and method should be clearly explained in a transparent way and meet core standards of rigor. We expect papers to have a method section to meet these standards. We assume our panel will include qualitative, quantitative, and mixed papers, as well as literature reviews and theory-building papers. Again, we argue that the method should follow from the research question and all methods are welcome on our panel. The panel chairs include scholars with a more qualitative as well as a more quantitative background, as well as  expertise in literature reviews and theory building.

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