Strategic understanding : A qualitative study on similarities and differences in perceptions of strategy

University essay from Högskolan i Jönköping/IHH, Företagsekonomi; Högskolan i Jönköping/IHH, Företagsekonomi; Högskolan i Jönköping/IHH, Företagsekonomi


In today’s society, strategy becomes more important because of the ever fast changing environment. Companies all around the world set strategies, in order to grow and earn a profit, and wish for them to be implemented the way they were intended to be. Therefore, we believe it is important to investigate individuals’ perceptions of firm strategy.

The purpose of this thesis is therefore to investigate individuals’ perception and understanding of firm strategy, and to see how these perceptions show similarities and differences. Our aim is also to see how cognitive mapping in relation to a strategic model can be helpful both for practitioners and researchers.

Collection of primary data was done by interviewing five employees on different hierarchical levels in Company X that is active in multiple different business areas both in Sweden and abroad. The interviews were later analysed with the help of theories such as cognitive structures and maps, and Whittington’s (2001) generic perspective of strategy. This model recognizes four approaches to strategizing, namely Classical, Evolutionary, Systemic and Processual. The two former ones have a Profit-maximizing outcome, while the latter two are Pluralistic in outcome.

During the analysis we found some similarities and differences. It was found that not all employees, individually or together, could be categorised under one specific approach. It is hypothesized that this could be because of the fact that they are at different levels and positions in the company, but they had similar perception on long-term planning as a firm strategy.

The interviewees in Company X have shown different perceptions when relating to strategy. We come to the conclusion that it is important for managers and strategic decision makers that they understand and take the differences and similarities under consideration when delegating and injecting new strategies into a company. We think this could then help them to enhance an understanding of their own strategic organisation.

Although case studies tend to be subjective, this is pointed out as the main limitation of the methodology. The researchers’ interpretation of the interviews lay as the foundation of the analysis and conclusion, and in order to make the study as objective as possible, clear and relevant selection of theories and literature was used to support the claims made in the thesis.

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