Open Strategy: Practices for Opening Strategy Making and Implementation

A doctoral studentship is available on a Part Time or Full Time basis, which is funded by the Strathclyde Business School in Glasgow, UK.

Number of places



International fee, Home fee


10 October 2017


31 March 2018


3 years


 Candidates are required to have:

  • An excellent undergraduate degree with Honours in a relevant business, technological or social science subject
  • A Masters degree (or equivalent) will be strongly preferred
  • Students may also have other relevant experience or skills which are relevant to this project
  • Candidates who are not native English speakers will be required to provide evidence for their English skills (such as by IELTS or similar tests that are approved by UKVI, or a degree completed in an English speaking country).

Project Details

This PhD project views strategy as a situational enactment and aims to make theoretical and practical contributions to better understand how ‘open strategy’ is enacted in practice and clarify its role for more effective strategy making and implementation in firms.

The point of departure for this PhD project is that there is a trend towards greater openness in the strategy process, for which Chesbrough & Appleyard (2007) and Doz & Kosonen (2008) coined the term “open strategy”. This development matches earlier ones in the area of innovation field resulting in more open approaches to managing innovation processes (Chesbrough, 2003). Whittington et al. (2011) explain the trend to greater strategy openness by identifying two distinctive dimensions: greater internal and external transparency with regards to processes and outcomes; greater inclusiveness of various actors in strategy-making, internal and external.

In terms of open strategy facets, ‘inclusion’ deals with partaking in an organisation’s strategic conversation where the continuous development of an organisation’s strategy is formed through the sharing of information, opinions and proposals (Mantere and Vaara, 2008; Westley, 1990).This could be within and beyond organisational boundaries. Secondly, ‘participatory’ strategy practices are about collecting employees’ inputs and feedback for decision making (Mack et al., 2017). Lastly, ‘transparency’ deals with the visibility of an organisation’s strategy, possibly during the design process but mainly the developed strategy. Strategic transparency may or may not connect with inclusion.  Organisation leaders may be transparent only about decisions they have taken privately (Withington et al., 2011.) This could be within and beyond organisational boundaries. Openness is not absolutely unrestricted. Disclosures of strategic information could sometimes be voluntary or mandatory (Baptista et al., 2017 and Yakis-Douglas et al., 2017).

Open Strategy assures several advantages, such as improved creativity owing to bigger, more assorted pools of participants (Stieger et al., 2012), improved commitment and combined sense making (Ketokivi and Castaner, 2004; Doz and Kosonen, 2008; Hutter et al., 2017), and positive impression management (Gegenhuber and Dobusch, 2017; Yakis-Douglas et al., 2017). In essence, the impact of openness on strategy will broaden the exploration for better strategy ideas and enhance understanding and commitment in the implementation of strategy (Withington et al., 2011). Nevertheless, there are some downsides.  Knights and Morgan (1991), believe the managers’ peculiar identification with a company’s strategic achievement could be increased, openness could be felt to a certain extent as overbearing: more knowledgeable and involved, lower-level managers come to believe they are personally still more accountable for the strategy delivery (Knights and Morgan, 1991). Thus, there are some areas in the practices of open strategy that needs to be explored for further clarity to enhance its positive potentials for more effective strategy making and implementation in firms.

This project will employ a qualitative method of enquiry (Miles et al., 2013; Yin, 2003). The successful PhD researcher will be expected to engage with case study organisations and networks using research methods such as interviews, non-participant or participant observations, field diaries, and strategy workshops. The data analysis methodology is expected to be based on pattern searching and content analysis of fully transcribed interviews and other data sources. The analysis will be rigorous and systematic using N-Vivo software and data analysis methods developed by Corley and Gioia (2011) while going back and forth between literature findings and empirical findings to draw significant contributions.

This PhD study is planned to be a truly impactful study and will aim high quality conference and journal publications. 



Contact us

For informal enquiries about the studentship, please contact Dr Aylin Ates.

How to apply

At this stage, we are inviting applicants to apply for the scholarship only. The successful candidate will then be asked to complete an application for PhD study at Strathclyde.

All applications should include:

  • a cover letter indicating the candidate's relevant skills/experience and how they can contribute to this research
  • a CV and relevant qualification transcripts
  • two references (please refer to guidance on references)

When sending the above documents please use the following file-naming convention: fullname_typeofdocument

  • Johnsmith_coverletter
  • Johnsmith_CV
  • Johnsmith_transcript1
  • Johnsmith_transcript2
  • Johnsmith_reference1
  • Johnsmith_reference2

Apply now by uploading your documents.

NB Whilst this scholarship application deadline is 31st March, candidates will be considered on receipt of application. The scholarship award may be allocated before the deadline (at the discretion of the supervisor), so please ensure early submission to avoid disappointment.