Top teams and strategy in a UK university

Paula Jarzabkowski, David C. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper reports on the results of an in-depth study of how a top management team (TMT) puts strategy into practice in a UK university. A study of the top team in Warwick University was conducted to analyse how strategy was formulated and implemented. The results suggest that a combination of two broad theoretical lenses provide useful analytical insight. These are strategy as practice and strategy as process. The main elements of this university’s strategy result from an interplay of localized routines and patterns of action within an organizational context, which both produces and is a product of such actions. The TMT itself was found to be clearly identifiable and stable in composition. The team exhibited identifiable patterns of strategic thinking and acting. However, the role of organizational structure was also found to be a key influence on the actions and processes of the TMT with strong central control tendencies in the team being counterbalanced by devolved operational control to individual departments. The data also reveal inter-relationships between organizational structures and the TMT in four key areas: direction-setting, monitoring and control, the allocation of resources, and processes of interaction. The overall conclusion is that to understand how strategy is practised, analysis needs to focus on how patterns of action are associated with the characteristics of both the team and the wider organization. The nature and characteristics of these patterns can be related to how strategy is put into practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-381
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Management Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - May 2002

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  • top management team
  • strategy
  • UK university
  • process


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