Boards in action: processes and practices of 'strategising' in the Boardroom



Watson C & Ireland A (2021) Boards in action: processes and practices of 'strategising' in the Boardroom. Journal of Management and Governance, 25 (3), pp. 933-966.

Normative expectations are that Governing Boards will be involved in setting the strategic direction of the organisation. However, knowledge of the processes and practices by which Boards engage in strategy is limited. In particular, very few empirical studies have penetrated the ‘black box’ of the Boardroom and examined the complex Board/Management interactions that amount to Boards ‘doing’ strategy. Here we address this gap, presenting an in-depth analysis of an unfolding process in which the Board and Management of a single organisation engaged in setting strategic direction over an 18-month period. We observed planning events, video-recorded Board meetings, analysed texts pertaining to the initiative, and spoke to key personnel. We adopt a ‘strong’ process approach which brings together strategy as process and as practice (SAPP). Our analysis is multi-modal: we track the iterative development of the strategy through documents/texts produced for Board meetings; and we adopt a sociomaterial approach in illuminating the entanglements of the human and nonhuman which constitute strategising. By considering events over a series of episodes, we have built a picture showing how micro-level practices in the Boardroom are layered incrementally in the emergence of strategy at organisational level. Relatedly, we show how these practices enable the Board to negotiate the tensions between control and service/collaboration. Hence the paper contributes to theory and knowledge around Board engagement in strategic activities.

Corporate governing; Interactive strategising; Procedural strategising; Sociomateriality; Video-based analysis

Journal of Management and Governance: Volume 25, Issue 3

FundersEconomic and Social Research Council and University of Stirling
Publication date30/09/2021
Publication date online12/12/2020
Date accepted by journal29/10/2020
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media LLC

People (2)


Dr Aileen Ireland

Dr Aileen Ireland

Lecturer Professional Educ & Leadership, Education

Professor Cate Watson

Professor Cate Watson

Emeritus Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences