You are here

See Also


Each approach to strategy has as part of its basis a view of individuals and groups, thus an attendant psychology and sociology. See strategy for an explanation of four theoretical approaches to strategy. The psychology related to the theories is as follows (Stacey, 2007, pp 438 - 439) --

Strategy theories with asystemic or systemic process perspective --

  • strategic choice -- strategic choice takes a cognitive view of human nature.
    • Here, the mind is understood to be a property of the individual brain.
    • The brain/mind processes symbolic information, forming representations and models of a pre-given reality.
    • The individual is primary in that knowing and acting do not depend fundamentally on relationships between individuals.
    • Individuals form groups and being part of a group may then affect individual behavior.
    • This theory places great emphasis on the importance of the intentions formed and expressed by autonomous individuals.
    • Emotion is often seen as a dangerous disruption of rational choice capacity
    • power is understood as an attribute of an individual, often in terms of official authority.
    • creativity is an attribute of an individual

  • learning organization -- the learning organization theories employ the same theory of human nature as strategic choice.
    • this theory also combines the notions from humanist psychology in which the central motivation for action is the urge individuals have to self-actualize themselves, finding their true selves as it were.
    • again, individuals form groups and these groups and these groups may affect their behavior.
    • leadership is a competence possessed by individuals
    • intention is a characteristic of individuals
    • emotions of a positive kind are emphasized
    • power as an attribute of charismatic individuals comes to the fore
    • creativity is in the end seen as an attribute of the individual, although a role is ascribed to cohesive teamwork
    • humanistic psychology also immediately focuses attention on the individual, but in a way that is different form cognitivism.
    • the central tenet here is the belief that the human individual is fundamentally motivated by self-realization, or self-actualization
    • human knowing and acting, and therefore human learning, are driven by the need to find the self
    • Other tenets, in the form of community, are very important to emotional well-being but it is not postulated that the group or the community actually forms the individual. In fact, the self-actualizing individual has to find his or her true self despite the group pressures to conform.

  • psychodynamics -- psychoanalytic perspectives on organizations combine open systems theory with a view of human nature derived from psychoanalysis.
    • the fundamental motivation for human behavior here is the mental ideas of inherited animal instincts called the drives
    • aggressive and libidinal drives blindly seek satisfaction but encounter social prohibition
    • individual mental processes are structured by this encounter with the social
    • individuals form groups but considerable account is taken of the impact group processes have on individual behavior, particularly those that are unconscious
    • the theory focuses on how regression to primitive behavior can destroy rational thinking and learning
    • an important insight into the nature of the relationship between individual and group is that about leadership. Individuals may be sucked into leadership positions by unconscious dynamics of the group. Leadership is no longer a simply a competence of the individual.
    • emotion and power play a much more important role in understanding the development of an organization than they do in the theories of strategic choice and the learning organization. The impact of emotions of a negative kind and of individual and group fantasy life is taken into account, as are the negative aspects of power.
    • creativity is an individual attribute arising in the ability to hold anxiety and engage in play.

  • other individual centered theories -- several other perspectives follow the same systemic individual centered characteristics of the other theories
    • knowledge management -- perspective on organizations. This perspective adopts a constructivist view of psychology, sometimes combined with the theory of autopoietic systems (see autopoiesis). Here, individuals are thought of as selecting or enacting the world into which they act. In this way, interaction individuals co-create their worlds. However, the individual still remains primary, although much more importance is attached to social interaction.
    • communities of practice -- perspective on organizations has essentially the same psychological views as knowledge management.
    • chaos and complexity theory -- perspective on organizations. Most of these perspectives bring along the same cognitivist, constructivist, and humanistic views of human nature as the strategic choice, learning organization, knowledge management, and communities of practice theories. The individual remains central. More emphasis may be paid to the creative aspects of instability (see edge of chaos) but, for the most, the same views on control are retained and creativity continues to be regarded as an attribute of an individual. Individuals, according to this theory, are essentially cybernetic entities (see cybernetic systems) who can take the position of objective observer of an external reality.

Strategy theories with aresponsive processes perspective --

  • complex responsive processes -- the complex responsive processes theory of organization makes a radical departure from systemic thinking when it comes to human psychology. The systemic theories of strategy combine a theory of interaction with a theory of human psychology. The complex responsive processes perspective is a theory of human psychology that is also a theory of interaction. There is no split between individual and group as different levels of analysis, the complex responsive processes perspective is one in which the individual is the singular of interdependent people while group is the plural of interdependent people.
    • the fundamental proposition is that individuals and groups form and are formed by each other simultaneously
    • individual minds are not seen purely as a process of brain computation, nor are they seen as motivated by primitive drives formed in the mind by the clash with the social. From a complex responsive process perspective, the fundamental motivator of human behavior is the urge to relate.
    • from this perspective, there can be no human individual outside of relationship
    • mind is silent, private conversation structured by, and always resonating and changing with, vocal public conversation in groups.
    • this theory moves away from the notion of the autonomous individual containing a mind as an internal world to the notion of interdependent people, to social selves.
    • power relations and the ideologies supporting them, as well as emotions and fantasies, are all central to this theoretical perspective.
    • intention is no longer an attribute of an individual. Instead, it emerges in conversational relationship to be articulated by an individual.
    • leadership is no longer simply an individual competence but a form of relationship
    • creativity arises in patterns of relationship in which there is sufficient deviance and subversion