Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy




Dr. Mary M. Crossan


Strategic renewal research focuses on what activities organizations need to engage in and how these activities need to be organized for successful renewal. During periods of strategic renewal the only certainty is that organizational activities will change, often substantially. Activity change is a challenge for organizations with occupations embedded within them as the activities of members are closely tied to the occupation and the identity of these occupational members (Pratt, Rockmann, & Kaufmann, 2006). In spite of the close link to activities, the current research on strategic renewal does not consider the important influence occupational identity has on this process both for the organization and for the occupational members within the organization. My one-year theory elaborating qualitative dissertation at NatNews, a Canadian media organization, examines the relationship between strategic renewal and occupational identity by addressing the question: how are strategic renewal and occupational identity related?

There are three key findings emerging from my analysis with deep implications for strategic renewal. First, I find that the beliefs and values forming the foundation of occupational identity conflict. The flexibility in belief enactment has mixed effects and occupational identity can both help and hinder strategic renewal.

Second, I isolate two mechanisms linking strategic renewal and occupational identity -meaning and metrics. The meanings associated with activities can be challenged or reinforced as activities are enacted during the strategic renewal process. Building on the work of Plowman et al.(2007) who link feedback to activity adaptation, my findings also highlight that the visibility of metrics impact the connection between strategic renewal and occupational identity. Positive feedback metrics that are only visible to some members can hinder activity change.

Finally, I provide compelling evidence that the focus of strategy research on the functional aspects of activities, or what to do and how to do it, is necessary but insufficient to capture the role activities play in organizations during strategic renewal. My findings reveal that activities are repositories for beliefs, values and meanings. These aspects are of equal importance to the functional aspects as they are directly tied to the behavior of those enacting the activities.