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New-Radical

Steven French PhD

Scholarly Publications

Steven has a body of work that underpins and justifies his open-systems theories.

Here is a link to his Google Scholar page.

His PhD and Masters Thesis are unpublished but are available from the page below.

Ten of his peer reviewed academic papers are relevant to New-Radical Thinking, he retains copyright to these versions of his academic work. 

 

PhD - Reframing Strategic Thinking: Emergence Beyond the "Box"

A 'Critical Management Study'

In 1998, Gary Hamel made the claim that strategists should be very embarrassed by the fact that they did not know where bold new innovative ideas came from. There was a gaping hole in organizational strategy theory.

Henry Mintzberg had claimed in 1994, that some part of realized strategy emerges, but he gave no mechanism for the emergent process.

A generation earlier, Ludwig von Bertalanffy had described the isomorphic properties or laws of general systems and concluded that each of two types of system, closed and open had laws that were unique or isomorphic to that type of system.

He implored scholars to examine “bureaucracy and business enterprise” as social systems and consequently examine their isomorphic properties.

Strategic planning is a closed system control enterprise but strategy creation is an emergent innovative process. The isomorphic law of systems claims that these two processes are incompatible. That was the problem with strategic planning and the background for this ‘Critical Management Study’.

A decade after its production, few understand the implications.

The results of this study were published in 2009 as a series of nine integrated papers in two special editions of the Journal of Management Development and these papers are available below. This is the previously unpublished thesis.

 

Masters Thesis - Vision and Mission as Part of the Strategic Planning

Process in Small Regional Professional Firms

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In 1996 I decided to focus my consulting practice on strategy. As an ACMA, I thought I had a handle on the Corporate Planning and Control process of my final year of study, but I wanted to learn more. I enrolled at the local university and wrote a masters thesis in classical strategic planning. Using Factor Analysis and Multiple Regression, I looked at the way small professional Service Firms undertook strategy.

And I found nothing! I could find no relationship between classical strategic planning processes and firm performance. This was a significant issue for me. I had to ask the question about the quality of the research, had I failed to discover the link between strategic planning and firm performance, or did no link exist. Hamel had claimed that strategic planning was problematic because there was a gaping hole in the theory. My own research complimented that idea and I had to find out more. Away with positive research methodology, I would embrace Action Research and study my own business clients as I explored and probed the hole that Hamel found.

The results of this study were first published in the Journal of Management Development in 2004 and that paper is available from the selection below. This is the previously unpublished thesis.

 

The Role of Strategic Planning in the Performance of Small, Professional

Service Firms

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Purpose - To review the semantics of the language of management in order to seek clarification of the terminology and how it is used and misused in the strategy literature.

Design/Approach - An extensive review of the literature was undertaken.

Findings - Managerial language has been used to obfuscate and politicise the managerial process, especially the strategic process. In order to develop the ideas of the strategy specialty we must understand the use and misuse of the words in the strategy lexicon. The problem that the lack of consistency creates is, that in trying to assess the strategic process in the literature and in practice, it is often impossible to know exactly what strategic methodology is being expressed.

Practical implications – Rather than concentrate on definitions of strategy we should seek to understand how the terminology is applied and then allocate the meaning of the terms to the school of strategic ideas that the writer/scholar espouses in each relevant paper that is published.

Originality/value – It is necessary to recognize how the words in the strategy literature have subtle, different meanings and the way to understand the usage is to apply the terminology to a school of thought.

Keywords - Semantics, Critical Theory, Critical Management Studies (CMS), Strategic Planning, Management, Thinking.

 

Critiquing the Language of Strategic Management

Purpose - To review the semantics of the language of management in order to seek clarification of the terminology and how it is used and misused in the strategy literature.

Design/Approach - An extensive review of the literature was undertaken.

Findings - Managerial language has been used to obfuscate and politicise the managerial process, especially the strategic process. In order to develop the ideas of the strategy specialty we must understand the use and misuse of the words in the strategy lexicon. The problem that the lack of consistency creates is, that in trying to assess the strategic process in the literature and in practice, it is often impossible to know exactly what strategic methodology is being expressed.

Practical implications – Rather than concentrate on definitions of strategy we should seek to understand how the terminology is applied and then allocate the meaning of the terms to the school of strategic ideas that the writer/scholar espouses in each relevant paper that is published.

Originality/value – It is necessary to recognize how the words in the strategy literature have subtle, different meanings and the way to understand the usage is to apply the terminology to a school of thought.

Keywords - Semantics, Critical Theory, Critical Management Studies (CMS), Strategic Planning, Management, Thinking.

 

Cogito Ergo Sum: Exploring Epistemological Options for Strategic Management

Purpose – To argue that the epistemology of the strategic literature is dominated by a Modernist (scientific) and Cybernetic system approach and that other epistemological options especially Critical Management Studies and Complex Self-adapting Systems, might provide greater insight for strategic thinking.

Design/Approach - An extensive review of the literature was undertaken.

Findings – The current dominant way of thinking about management are based on closed system notions of causality in which good enough long-term prediction is possible. The process PLOC (French, 2009a) depends totally on this foundation. If a system’s long-term behaviour is unpredictable, then using the PLOC model is questionable. In the current turbulent business environment long-term prediction may not be possible.

Practical implications – The life expectancy of a firm is only 40 years (Stacy, 2000a). Using closed system concepts to drive businesses to the equilibrium of a business plan may be killing the business, because a Complex Self-adapting System in equilibrium is dead.

Originality/value – Very little work, especially in strategy has been done outside the Modernist paradigm (Parker, 2002). This paper explores the possibility of incorporating open system ideas into a strategic methodology.

Keywords - Strategy, Critical Management Studies (CMS), Epistemology, Positivist, Modernist, Postmodernist, Frankfurt School, Cybernetic Systems, Complex Self-adapting Systems.

 

Exploring the House Built on Sand!

Purpose – To explore the strategy literature to identify scholars who have developed specific models of strategy.

Design/Approach - An extensive review of the literature was undertaken.

Findings – The Modernist ideas of several scholars who have developed methods or concepts for delineating the ideas of strategy are discussed. A body of economic theory is mentioned but is beyond the scope of this paper.

Practical implications – We must move on from the eighteenth century economic concepts, especially the equilibrium assumption if we are to develop the strategy discipline.

Originality/value – Very little work, especially in strategy has been done outside the Modernist paradigm (Parker, 2002). This paper explores the possibility of incorporating open system ideas into a strategic methodology.

Keywords - Strategy, Critical Management Studies (CMS), Epistemology, Positivist, Modernist, Postmodernist, Frankfurt School, Cybernetic Systems, Complex Self-adapting Systems.

 

Re-thinking the Foundations of the Strategic Business Process

Purpose – To develop a coherent model of several schools of strategic ideas. Utilizing and building upon the models extant in the literature, but also considering a change of epistemological and systemic paradigms.

Design/Approach - An extensive review of the literature was undertaken.

Findings – The result of the analysis of the literature is that a seven school model is postulated. The seven schools being grouped within three categories. The first category is labeled the Classical Schools and includes the Design school, the Planing school and the Positioning school. The second category is labeled the Neo-classical Schools and includes the Contingency school and the Resource school. The third category is labeled the Post Classical Schools and includes the Learning school and the Emergence school.

Practical implications – The concept of strategic emergence, a characteristic of a Complex Self-adapting System, is developed.

Originality/value – Very little work, especially in strategy has been done outside the Modernist paradigm (Parker, 2002). This paper explores the possibility of incorporating open system ideas into a strategic methodology.

Keywords - Strategy, Critical Management Studies (CMS), Positivist, Modernist, Postmodernist, Cybernetic Systems, Complex Self-adapting Systems.

 

Action Research for Practicing Managers

Purpose – To explore the strategy literature to identify scholars who have developed specific models of strategy.

Design/Approach - An extensive review of the literature was undertaken.

Findings – The Modernist ideas of several scholars who have developed methods or concepts for delineating the ideas of strategy are discussed. A body of economic theory is mentioned but is beyond the scope of this paper.

Practical implications – We must move on from the eighteenth century economic concepts, especially the equilibrium assumption if we are to develop the strategy discipline.

Originality/value – Very little work, especially in strategy has been done outside the Modernist paradigm (Parker, 2002). This paper explores the possibility of incorporating open system ideas into a strategic methodology.

Keywords - Strategy, Critical Management Studies (CMS), Epistemology, Positivist, Modernist, Postmodernist, Frankfurt School, Cybernetic Systems, Complex Self-adapting Systems.

 

Re-Framing Strategic Thinking: The Research – Aims and Outcomes

Purpose – To develop a coherent model of several schools of strategic ideas. Utilizing and building upon the models extant in the literature, but also considering a change of epistemological and systemic paradigms.

Design/Approach - An extensive review of the literature was undertaken.

Findings – The result of the analysis of the literature is that a seven school model is postulated. The seven schools being grouped within three categories. The first category is labeled the Classical Schools and includes the Design school, the Planing school and the Positioning school. The second category is labeled the Neo-classical Schools and includes the Contingency school and the Resource school. The third category is labeled the Post Classical Schools and includes the Learning school and the Emergence school.

Practical implications – The concept of strategic emergence, a characteristic of a Complex Self-adapting System, is developed.

Originality/value – Very little work, especially in strategy has been done outside the Modernist paradigm (Parker, 2002). This paper explores the possibility of incorporating open system ideas into a strategic methodology.

Keywords - Strategy, Critical Management Studies (CMS), Positivist, Modernist, Postmodernist, Cybernetic Systems, Complex Self-adapting Systems.

 

The Inductive Frame

Purpose – To explore the strategy literature to identify scholars who have developed specific models of strategy.

Design/Approach - An extensive review of the literature was undertaken.

Findings – The Modernist ideas of several scholars who have developed methods or concepts for delineating the ideas of strategy are discussed. A body of economic theory is mentioned but is beyond the scope of this paper.

Practical implications – We must move on from the eighteenth century economic concepts, especially the equilibrium assumption if we are to develop the strategy discipline.

Originality/value – Very little work, especially in strategy has been done outside the Modernist paradigm (Parker, 2002). This paper explores the possibility of incorporating open system ideas into a strategic methodology.

Keywords - Strategy, Critical Management Studies (CMS), Epistemology, Positivist, Modernist, Postmodernist, Frankfurt School, Cybernetic Systems, Complex Self-adapting Systems.

 

The Deductive Frame

Purpose – To develop a coherent model of several schools of strategic ideas. Utilizing and building upon the models extant in the literature, but also considering a change of epistemological and systemic paradigms.

Design/Approach - An extensive review of the literature was undertaken.

Findings – The result of the analysis of the literature is that a seven school model is postulated. The seven schools being grouped within three categories. The first category is labeled the Classical Schools and includes the Design school, the Planing school and the Positioning school. The second category is labeled the Neo-classical Schools and includes the Contingency school and the Resource school. The third category is labeled the Post Classical Schools and includes the Learning school and the Emergence school.

Practical implications – The concept of strategic emergence, a characteristic of a Complex Self-adapting System, is developed.

Originality/value – Very little work, especially in strategy has been done outside the Modernist paradigm (Parker, 2002). This paper explores the possibility of incorporating open system ideas into a strategic methodology.

Keywords - Strategy, Critical Management Studies (CMS), Positivist, Modernist, Postmodernist, Cybernetic Systems, Complex Self-adapting Systems.

 

The Reflective Frame

Purpose – To explore the strategy literature to identify scholars who have developed specific models of strategy.

Design/Approach - An extensive review of the literature was undertaken.

Findings – The Modernist ideas of several scholars who have developed methods or concepts for delineating the ideas of strategy are discussed. A body of economic theory is mentioned but is beyond the scope of this paper.

Practical implications – We must move on from the eighteenth century economic concepts, especially the equilibrium assumption if we are to develop the strategy discipline.

Originality/value – Very little work, especially in strategy has been done outside the Modernist paradigm (Parker, 2002). This paper explores the possibility of incorporating open system ideas into a strategic methodology.

Keywords - Strategy, Critical Management Studies (CMS), Epistemology, Positivist, Modernist, Postmodernist, Frankfurt School, Cybernetic Systems, Complex Self-adapting Systems.

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