Strategizing: At a new crossroads?

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Finding ways to use limited resources to reach ambitious visions, what we call strategizing, is always a challenge. Possibly, the challenge is greater in public sector organizations aiming to fulfil a political vision for a future society. It is more challenging because public services have many and varied stakeholders and institutional arrangements and deliver different kinds of services and products to society. This is a demanding situation to manage. When adding a general shift towards higher complexity in some of the strategic contexts in which public services operate, the process of strategizing becomes even more demanding and complex. This shift in complexity can be interpreted as a new crossroads, making it increasingly important for managers to be aware of the conditions for strategizing given the contexts they operate in.

The chapter analyses how managers understand the context and concepts of strategy by elaborating on a continuum of contexts, with a rational strategic environment at one end and a systemic strategic environment at the other end. Those two endpoints also affect how to think; is it possible to work with rigid analyses of vast amounts of data, or is strategic thinking shaped by an apparent lack of unambiguous data and the unknown future? Two approaches to acting strategically are introduced: a hierarchically based approach and a more dialogue-based approach. The chapter ends with a mind-map managers can use in positioning their strategic context to help them understand the consequences for strategizing public services.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationManaging Public Services
Subtitle of host publication- Making Informed Choices
EditorsIrvine Lapsley, Ola Mattisson
Place of PublicationOxford/New York
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-003-15438-9
ISBN (Print)978-0-367-72325-5, 978-0-367-72324-8
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021 Sep

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Business Administration


  • Management
  • Public Sector
  • Strategy


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