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2023/2024  KAN-CSOAO1001U  Strategy and Identity

English Title
Strategy and Identity

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Mandatory
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Quarter
Start time of the course Autumn, First Quarter
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Study board
Study Board for cand.merc. and CSOA (CSOA)
Course coordinator
  • Silviya Svejenova Velikova - Department of Organization (IOA)
Main academic disciplines
  • Management
  • Organisation
  • Strategy
Teaching methods
  • Blended learning
Last updated on 02-06-2023

Relevant links

Learning objectives
The OC and SI courses aim to offer a practical and realistic approach to the complexity and dynamism of organizational contexts, whilst engaging seriously with theories of organizational change, strategy and identity. They seek to facilitate students in developing an understanding of the multifaceted nature of change, strategy and identity in a way that enables the making of practical judgements in an informed way and inspires imagination for responsible action. Upon the courses’ completion, we expect the students to be able to fulfill the following learning objectives:
  • Discuss how identity provides a foundation for strategy and how it influences opportunities for organizations to achieve competitive advantage
  • Discuss how strategic processes may influence the construction of a new organizational identity and the organizational commitment to identity
  • Relate theories on strategy and identity to each other, and apply them in order to analyze issues of relevance to strategy, identity and organizational change processes
  • Critically reflect on implications of the theories of organizing change for strategy and identity
  • Account for how theories in both courses can be used to understand the dynamics of organizational change and implications for managing and working in organizations
  • Explain the roles of narrative, sensemaking and commitment to organizing change, strategy and organizational identity
  • Connect theories and methods for researching organizational change, strategy and identity in the context of a concrete organizational situation.
Course prerequisites
Strategy and Identity can only be taken together with Organizing Change as the two courses have a common exam.
The course shares exams with
Course content, structure and pedagogical approach

The aim of this course is to interrogate organizational problems related to the interplay between strategy and identity in different contexts (large and small organizations, long-lived firms and start-ups, public and private entities, project-based organizations, etc.). The course builds on and extends the students’ prior knowledge of classical perspectives on strategy and identity, while introducing new – temporality perspective – on the strategy-identity interplay, moving towards strategy-as-process view, in which organizational change is an essential aspect. This implies seeing strategy and identity not as fixed entities but, rather, as being in the making. Identity, for example, is the answer to the question “who are we becoming”, whereas strategy will be conceived in terms of how it emerges and becomes consolidated in the organization. A process view facilitates analysis and discussions of ‘how’ organizational identity influences the unfolding of strategies across time – and how the emergence of new strategies may lead to a new identity. The course has a temporal emphasis, which enables past, present and future to be analysed, such as how organizational actors may leverage their past in the development of strategies for the future or how they make visions of the future actionable in the present.


The course explores the role of strategic leadership in framing strategies and identities in a context of ethical dilemmas, as well as the role of strategic narratives and logic of tact for engaging external stakeholders in the co-creation of collective strategies and identities. In addition to enhancing students’ analytical skills, the course aims at advancing their envisioning and framing skills, enabling them to envision, articulate and critically reflect on sustainable futures. Further, the course seeks to stimulate curiosity about and understanding of complexities related to contexts of high ambiguity and volatility along with imagination for action. The perspectives, theories, models, and concepts discussed in the course will also be put to use to discuss and frame strategy, identity, and change in the context of grand challenges (e.g. The Climate Emergency, Covid-19) that face organizations and humanity more broadly.


Overlap with the course Organizing Change
This course overlaps with Organizing Change (OC) in several ways. Both courses focus on theories and conceptual frameworks that elaborate the processes underpinning strategy, identity and organizing hereby stressing the active role of organizational actors. While SI focuses on how actors set the direction for the trajectory of the organization, OC focuses on the various mechanisms in maintaining and transforming organizations. The group work in class and on the projects, the feedback activities, as well as the shared exam for both courses are structured in such a way that constructive collaboration becomes essential whilst constantly honing the students’ critical thinking. Taken together the two courses will explain how strategies and identities are open to change and how organizing processes serve to hold them together. Both courses will draw on abductive methods as the foundation for the joint shared student projects.

Description of the teaching methods
The course provides a variety of opportunities for blended learning, among which pre-recorded and live lectures, discussions of articles and cases, role play, creating videos, as well as group projects in which students collect data on and apply theoretical perspectives to complex organizational situations related to strategy, identity, and change. There are eight stand-alone SI sessions and further six sessions that will be held in conjunction with the Organizing Change (OC) course and which feature integrative sessions as well as discussions with practitioners from different types of organizations.
Feedback during the teaching period
The SI and OC courses offer several feedback opportunities during the class discussions as well as in dedicated activities. Feedback will be given to the group presentations in the class and during office hours. The student groups will also receive supervision and feedback on their exam projects’ progress on two separate occasions. Finally, we create and update a Canvas-based joint archive with selected previous year’s projects and have students comment on their strong points and weakness in relation to concepts from each course and teachers giving feedback to the students’ comments. This allows to better align exam expectations and prepare the students for the oral exam, as many of them have not had oral exams before or, at least, not in English. In addition, in the SI course the student groups will:

1) Using a template, submit a short critical and comparative overview of strategy perspectives from the course. The teacher will provide a summary feedback to the class and specific feedback in writing to each group.

2) Develop a 10 min. video-based presentation (to be included in the class video-archive on Canvas if the group is willing to share) on an identity perspective from the course, applied to a case of students' choice. The teacher will select the most relevant presentations to be discussed in class whilst also giving written feedback to all the submitted presentations.

3) Design scenarios for sustainable futures on a given case that involves a grand challenge or a crisis situation (in class). Student groups will provide comments to each other (peer feedback) and the teacher will give feedback to the class.
Student workload
Teaching 33 hours
Preparation/reading/group work 123 hours
Exam 50 hours
Expected literature

Albert, S., & Whetten, D. A. 1985. Organizational identity. Research in Organizational Behavior, 7, 263–295. (Republished in Hatch, M.J. & Schultz, M. 2004. Organizational Identity: A Reader. Oxford University Press, 89-118.) (pdf on Canvas)


Alvarez, J.L. & Svejenova, S. in press. The Changing C-suite: Executive Power in Transformation. Oxford University Press (Chapter 4. Executive Expertise and Identity). (pdf on Canvas)


Alstyne, M.W., Van, Parker, G.G., & Choudary, S.P. 2016. Pipelines, platforms, and the new rules of strategy. Harvard Business Review. 94(4): 54-62.


Ferraro, F., Etzion, D. & Gehman, J. 2015. Tackling grand challenges pragmatically: Robust action revisited. Organization Studies, 36(3): 363–390.


Gans, J., Scott, E.L., & Stern, S. 2018. Strategy for start-ups. Harvard Business Review, 96(3): 45-51.


Harreld, B., O’Reilly III, O. & Tushman, M. 2007. Dynamic capabilities at IBM. California Management Review, 49(4): 21-43.


Hatch, M. J., Schultz, M., & Skov, A-M. 2015. Organizational identity and culture in the context of managed change: Transformation in the Carlsberg Group, 2009–2013. Academy of Management Discoveries, 1(1): 58-90.


Kaplan, S. & Orlikowski, W. 2014. Beyond forecasting: Creating new strategic narratives. MIT Sloan Management Review, 56(1): 23-28.


Kim, W. & Mauborgne, R. 2005. Blue ocean strategy: From theory to practice. California Management Review, 47(3): 105-121.


Kornberger, M., Leixnering, S., & Meyer, R. E. 2019. The logic of tact: How decisions happen in situations of crisis. Organization Studies, 40(2): 239–266.


Langley, A., Oliver, D. & Rouleau, L. 2020. Strategy and identities in organizations. In Brown, A. (Ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Identities in Organizations, Oxford University Press.


Langley, A. &  Ravasi, D. 2019. Visual artifacts as tools for analysis and theorizing. In Zilber, T.B., Amis, J.M. and Mair, J.(Ed.) The Production of Managerial Knowledge and Organizational Theory: New Approaches to Writing, Producing and Consuming Theory, Research in the Sociology of Organizations, 59: 173-199.


Lounsbury, M. & Glynn, M.A. 2001. Cultural entrepreneurship: stories, legitimacy, and the acquisition of resources. Strategic Management Journal, Special Issue: Strategic Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurial Strategies for Wealth Creation, 22(6‐7): 545-564  .


Mantere, S. 2013. What is organizational strategy? A language-based view. Journal of Management Studies, 50(8): 1408-1426.


Mintzberg, H. & Waters, J.A. 1985. Of strategies, deliberate and emergent. Strategic Management Journal, 6(3): 257-272.


Polletta, F. & Jasper, J.M. 2001. Collective identity and social movements. American Sociological Review, 27: 283-305.


Porter, M.E. 1996. What is strategy? Harvard Business Review, 74(6): 61-78.


Porter , M.E. 2008. The five competitive forces that shape strategy, Harvard Business Review, 86(1): 79-93.


Schultz, M. & Hernes, T. 2013. A temporal perspective on organizational identity. Organization Science, 24(1): 1-21.


Schultz, M. & Hernes, T. 2020. Temporal interplay between strategy and identity: Punctuated, subsumed, and sustained modes.Strategic Organization, 18(1): 106-135.


Scoblic, J.P. 2020. Learning from the future: How to make robust strategy in times of deep uncertainty. Harvard Business Review, 98(4): 37-47.


Stjerne, I., Wenzel, M., & Svejenova, S. forthcoming. Commitment to grand challenges in fluid forms of organizing: The role of narratives’ temporality. Research in the Sociology of Organizations (pdf on Canvas)

Last updated on 02-06-2023