In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Strategy Implementation

  • Introduction
  • Organization Design
  • External Environment
  • Measurement and Control

Management Strategy Implementation
Franz Wohlgezogen
  • LAST MODIFIED: 12 January 2021
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0200


Research on strategy implementation seeks to understand what activities organizations and their constituents engage in to put a formulated strategy into practice, what prompts a particular set and sequence of implementation activities, and what effect they have on the realization of a strategy and on organizational outcomes. Strategy scholars generally agree that deliberate and coordinated efforts to guide the translation of strategy from abstract plan and policy to organizational and behavioral reality are an integral aspect of strategic management and crucial for a strategy to improve an organization’s performance. Many also recognize that implementation is a dynamic and complex process that requires a degree of flexibility and iterative adjustment to respond to feedback or pushback from internal and external stakeholders. The strategy implementation literature is loosely held together by a shared phenomenological interest, and it has attracted an eclectic set of contributions from or made reference to diverse management subdisciplines beyond strategy, including organization studies, human resource management, operations management, accounting, and project management. Overall, theoretical advancement has been slow, and many of the frameworks and guidelines for implementation that are common in the practitioner literature have limited empirical evidence to support them. Likewise, many of the conceptual ambiguities, such as the demarcation between strategy formulation and implementation, and methodological challenges, such as the measurement of implementation outcomes, have not prompted systematic agendas or programs of research. This is a research area that offers plenty of opportunity for scholarly contributions. Please note that for a select few management techniques (e.g., total quality management, lean management, kaizen) and strategic vehicles (e.g., strategic alliances, mergers and acquisitions) specialized implementation research has accumulated. However, this article focuses on the nonspecialized domain, that is, on research that aims to develop a general body of knowledge related to implementation that is applicable for a wide range of strategies. Research from specialized domains is only selectively cited.

General Overviews

Since the strategy implementation research domain is eclectic and dispersed, general overviews provide a highly useful starting point to assemble an impression of recurrent themes and to identify the variety of applied theories and the diversity of methodologies used to explore the topic. Literature reviews from different decades reveal that, by and large, relatively little systematic conceptual or empirical progress has been made. Textbooks and monographs frequently take a practical approach, with limited references to implementation research, but that make an effort to translate complex implementation issues and considerations into actionable insights and guidelines.

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