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John Van Den Bosch

DBA Graduate - 2014

Thesis title

"Big Blue Arrows" Strategizing by Corporate Top Management Teams

Supervisor(s)

Damon Golsorkhi

John van den Bosch works at BAE Systems as managing director for Europe & Americas. Prior to BAE Systems, John worked at Harris as VP, Europe & Africa, and director of strategy with Exelis. Before this, John held a variety of business and BD roles with Honeywell, and started his career at General Electric. John holds an MsC in strategic and information management from Erasmus University, and an MBA from Georgetown. John lives in The Hague, Netherlands, with his wife Juliana and daughters Stephanie and Sophie.

This research aims to contribute to the literature of Strategy-as-Practice (S-as-P), which concentrates on how organizations actually “do strategy” (Jarzabkowski, 2005, p. 1), by working to understand how strategies are crafted by Top Management Teams (TMTs) of commercial businesses. The inner workings of TMTs are difficult to study (Hambrick, 2007), and much existing S-as-P research has been based on data from middle-level managers and from the public sector where access to data may be greater (Johnson et al., 2007). By leveraging a trusted insider perspective, the daily practices of the TMT of the company DefenseCo were studied. Through an abductive research strategy, data was gathered from multiple, overlapping sources to create a rich and holistic dataset, covering a full formal strategy definition cycle. From empirical findings, a model was developed that was theorized through the S-a-P literature and via structuration theory (Giddens, 1984). This showed the six dimensions of crafting strategy at DefenseCo and their relations: 1. Actors, or individuals, involved in strategizing; 2. Strategic ideas, beliefs, or notions about what is occurring in the organization and its environment and strategic implications thereof; 3. Strategizing activities, or acts involved in crafting strategy; 4. Tools or instruments and the means used in strategizing; 5. Organizations, politics, and power, or relationships between actors, and political means and control used to achieve desired outcomes; and 6. Catalyzers that activate or mobilize other dimensions. This study suggests that effective strategists should be aware of this multidimensionality and should recognize the role of each dimension in crafting strategy. Keywords: Top Management Teams (TMT), Strategy-as-Practice (S-as-P), strategic ideas, crafting strategy, tools, politics, power, catalyzers, abductive research, insider perspective