Strategic planning as communicative process

A. Paul Spee, Paula Jarzabkowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper examines the construction of a strategic plan as a communicative process. Drawing on Ricoeur’s concepts of decontextualization and recontextualization, we conceptualize strategic planning activities as being constituted through the iterative and recursive relationship of talk and text. Based on an in-depth case study, our findings show how multiple actors engage in a formal strategic planning process which is manifested in a written strategy document. This document is thus central in the iterative talk to text cycles. As individuals express their interpretations of the current strategic plan in talk, they are able to make amendments to the text, which then shape future textual versions of the plan. This cycle is repeated in a recursive process, in which the meanings attributed to talk and text increasingly converge within a final agreed plan. We develop our findings into a process model of the communication process that explains how texts become more authoritative over time and, in doing so, how they inscribe power relationships and social order within organizations. These findings contribute to the literature on strategic planning and on organization as a communication process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1217-1245
Number of pages29
JournalOrganization Studies
Issue number9
Early online date26 Jul 2011
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2011


  • decontextualization
  • organizational communication
  • recontextualization
  • strategic planning


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