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Reframing Strategic Inertia: The Politics of Innovation and the Case of GM Biotechnology

Lewis, William R (2017) Reframing Strategic Inertia: The Politics of Innovation and the Case of GM Biotechnology. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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In a broad sense this thesis concerns the politics (and ethics) of strategic management, organisational psychology, organisational narratives, knowledge management and conditions of innovation. More specifically, this is research into the dimension of politics and the legitimacy of power relations within the synchronization of time and space in social organisations, typically as part of the design and implementation of strategy, in context of organisational definitions of innovation and contestations of 'the new'. With a conceptual archaeology, the thesis contends that strategy research focuses on the nodal concepts of 'inertia', 'adaptation' and 'friction', in context of three past conceptual frameworks: namely, Newtonian mechanics, Hobbesian interpretations of evolution, and Clausewitzian military theory. A genealogical approach is used to reveal the persistent influence of the Newtonian notion of simultaneity (absolute time and absolute space) across these three frameworks in their combinatorial guise in the discourse of strategic management. The genealogy unfreezes the nodal concepts by showing the history of their contingent construction and selection. Finally, a critical analysis scrutinizes the contextual appropriateness of applying the concept of simultaneity to social matters. The thesis rejects simultaneity and its dominant position as an 'articulatory practice' of organisational strategy. By decoupling the notion of simultaneity from frames through which sense is made of motion and events, the grip that structuralism has on organisational strategy is loosened and by substituting simultaneity with political power the implications for strategic management become clear. The approach draws from Political Discourse Theory to reframe the strategy discourse, in its current conception, as hegemonic and an antagonistic system of 'Politics' that, instead of facilitating either stability or innovation, leads, instead, to 'conceptual inertia' and economic stagnation, by repressing emergences of 'the Political'. The thesis proposes a strategy of 'agonism' as an alternative. Rather than replacing one despotic concept with another, the suggestion of agonistic strategy is made because agonism allows for its own reinterpretation, thus does not represent a sedimented centre of a discourse. In this way, agonism is less susceptible to stagnation, and more amenable to innovation. The theoretical framework is then accompanied with a study of the design and implementation of strategy within a research institute engaged with the innovation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) using the CRISPR-cas9 technique. The selection of this case organisation allows for an analysis of the politics and power relations at play in the definitions of innovation, and a means to ground a study of the social construction of reality within an empirical setting regarding the strategic development of genetic constructs.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > C Auxiliary sciences of history (General)
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD58.7 Organizational behavior, change and effectiveness. Corporate culture
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
J Political Science > JC Political theory
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Essex Business School
Depositing User: Will Lewis
Date Deposited: 12 Jul 2017 12:20
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2017 12:20

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