This paper studies the interplay between top and middle managers as a determinant of strategy-making effectiveness. Participation is a pivotal concern among different types of strategy-making process to grasp the conditions that account for effective strategy-making. We deal with how the resolution of the interplay between managerial levels fosters or hinders subsequent managerial action, by means of a multiple case design of six Spanish companies. These six organizations shared managerial participation in different degrees as a valued property of their strategy process. First round interviews with key informants provided a profile for each strategic process. Next, we gathered all key informants in an interactive discussion group, which further evidenced their diversity in the making of strategy. Lastly, we carried out a final round of interviews to enhance clarification. The targeted organizations varied in their types of process, core businesses and size. This variety provided a rich and diverse context to study interaction between upper and lower level managers. By analyzing how interaction resolved into goals and strategy within the different modes of strategy process, we dig into the resolution conditions. We present a theoretical framework that extends existing knowledge on how strategy-making, as a cooperative endeavor between managerial levels, translates strategy into organizational activities. Findings show that legitimation of strategic objectives explains the extent to which tasks are carried out and objectives are accomplished. As an interplay resolution mechanism, legitimation is a property integrated into goals and means through mutual validation by both top management and organizational members.
Strategy-making process; Top and middle managers' interplay; Managerial action;
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