Strategy as performative practice: The case of Sydney 2030

Martin Kornberger*, Stewart Clegg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This article focuses on the relation between strategy-as-practice and its power effects in the context of a strategy project (Sustainable Sydney 2030) undertaken by the City of Sydney. The following three interrelated questions guided the enquiry: How is strategy practised? What knowledge is it based upon? And what are its power effects? Based on a detailed empirical analysis of the strategy-making process, the article charts how strategy rendered the city knowable and how performative effects of strategizing mobilized the public and legitimized outcomes of the process while silencing other voices. The article's theoretical contribution is threefold: first, it shows that strategizing is performative, constituting its subjects and shaping its objects; second, that strategizing has to be understood as aesthetic performance whose power resides in the simultaneous representation of facts (traditionally the domain of science) and values (the realm of politics); third, and consequently, that strategy is a sociopolitical practice that aims at mobilizing people, marshalling political will and legitimizing decisions. The article concludes with reflections on five practical implications of the study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-162
Number of pages27
JournalStrategic Organization
Volume9
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2011

Keywords

  • discourse
  • performativity
  • power
  • rationality
  • Sydney
  • urban strategy

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