Materializing strategy: The role of comprehensiveness and management controls in strategy formation in volatile environments

Lisa C Thomas, Veronique Ambrosini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Drawing on the Mintzbergian perspective of strategy formation and strategy as practice literature we explore management controls (MCs) and comprehensiveness as antecedents to how strategy materializes in volatile environments. We focus on middle managers (MMs) since their role in strategy formation is well acknowledged. We contribute to the literature by arguing that MCs are central to strategy formation due to their role in shaping emergence of strategy and supporting implementation of deliberate strategies, with formal (process and output) and informal (professional) controls being salient micro-mechanisms in how strategy materializes in volatile environments. Specifically we argue that process control may hamper the materialization of strategy but that output and professional control aid it. We also develop the literature by arguing that comprehensiveness embeds both formally planned and emergent aspects in strategy formation, the latter enabled by top management championing and information availability which shapes MMs predisposition to strategizing. With a quantitative study we test our hypotheses regarding championing, information availability and comprehensiveness; and comprehensiveness, and MCs and implementation performance. Our results show that comprehensiveness, output and professional controls positively influence MMs implementation performance and, together, our antecedents reinforce each other in the materialization of strategy, hence providing an empirical contribution to the literature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S105 - S124
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Management
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Cite this