An ever-winding stream : (re)surfacing competing for advantage from the continuous entwinement of navigation and wayfinding

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This research is a strategy coup de grâce. It has helped mend deeply-rooted, intuitive, in situ sponte sua beliefs about the nature of strategy’s river-flow—echoed from a minuscule, scarcely-inhabited river-cave of the strategy field-flow—with its actual unfolding in real, earth-bound organisational settings. In a nutshell, the research charted the until-now uncharted becoming of competing for advantage.For what Sheryl Crow sings in her immensely popular ‘Everyday is a winding road’ is simply the sentiment Bob Dylan so effectively describes ‘Like a rolling stone’ in a way that completely resonates with what the Beatles had sung even before in their ‘Long and winding road’. Namely, that strategy is wayfaring, meandering, and forever oblique. And hence, strategy is not either linear or curve, but both linear and curve. Deliberate and emergent. Content and process. Planning and wayfinding, in a universal, uninterrupted coping, which echoes ‘the best-laid plans of mice and men’ (Burns, 1785, added emphasis) so beautifully captured in the evocative poetics of Scotland’s national bard.Over a 9-month immersion during most of 2018, in an automotive manufacturing site in the outskirts of Glasgow’s Green-Glen, the research amassed a comprehensive volume of data anchorings following a ‘near documentary’ style of inquiry (Chia and Holt, 2009). A wayfinding methodology-of-sorts emerged, which included extensive field note-makings, reflecting-in-action, photographic animations, and annotated information supported by news articles, company records, semi-formal interviews, live off-the-cuff conversations, shadowing-in-observation, and attendance of both formal, fixed meetings, and informal, impromptu coming-together gatherings. Analysis followed to reconstruct the river-flow of the case-streams. Namely, the metamorphosis of Rosti Automotive Larkhall (RAL), from being a general plastic injection moulder, to becoming a tier 1 automotive supplier, in the period covering 2016-2018.Overarchingly, the research crystalizes a triple-win of exciting possibilities for the field of strategic management and the social sciences more broadly. Namely, (i) a tried-and-tested wayfinding-process philosophical-methodology focused on explicating the dynamics of processes-in-motion; (ii) a fresh reconceptualization of a central construct—the central construct, perhaps—of the strategy field, competitive advantage, towards a forever becoming-idea—the primordial hunch of strategy—competing for advantage; and (iii) this new conceptualisation is born out of the two most basic motions—currents—of the competing river-flow: competere and concurrere, from which concurrere emerges as the vital traversing of strategy, its wayfinding and zero-degree of organisation (Chia and Holt, 2009; Cooper 1986: 321).
    Date of Award24 Aug 2023
    Original languageEnglish
    Awarding Institution
    • University Of Strathclyde
    SponsorsUniversity of Strathclyde
    SupervisorHarry Sminia (Supervisor) & Steve Paton (Supervisor)

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