In this section, I will elaborate on how I conceptualize strategic management in government. This conceptualization is key in understanding my research efforts. Most research that I do can be placed within this framework. Hence, the main objective of this framework is to “make sense” of what strategic management is – and what it is not -, whether and how it has worked so far and why it is so widely adopted by public and nonprofit entities at all levels of government. For those interested, I will also offer an overview of recent books on this topic. Importantly, this framework offers a multidisciplinary perspective by combining theories from economics, sociology and management.
Conceptualizing strategic management in government
The first paper of my PhD, which is published in the Routledge book of Joyce & Drumaux, seeks to conceptualize the determinants, characteristics and outcomes of strategic management processes in government. This results in following figure:
Source: George, B., & Desmidt, S. (2014). A state of research on strategic management in the public sector: an analysis of the empirical evidence. In P. Joyce & A. Drumaux (Eds.), Strategic management in public organizations : European practices and perspectives (pp. 151–172). New York, NY, USA: Routledge.
I would suggest viewing the book for all details on this framework. The core of this model, however, clearly suggests that strategic management is much more than a buzzword within government. It is an integrated management cycle during which practitioners use instruments and processes to formulate, implement and evaluate strategic plans. Which, in turn, can result in both direct proximate outcomes (e.g. improved decision-making) and, in the long run, even organizational distal outcomes (e.g. organizational performance). And do not forget the context as both organizational (e.g. complexity and type of service offered) as well as institutional (e.g. political and judicial system of the country) contingencies matter! Strategic management in government is thus an integrated cycle, a social process, an open system and should result in something.
Books on strategic management in government
My all-time favorite: Bryson
A European, research-based view: Joyce & Drumaux
But what about performance: Andrews, Boyne, Law & Walker