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Strategy-as-Practice: Home

Provides relevant information and training help for Unisa Business Management postgraduate students

Research Agenda

Strategy-as-practice research is interested in the detailed micro activities that constitute strategising and the link between these activities and wider social organisational and social contexts, also referred to as macro contexts. Strategy-as-practice research draws upon, inter alia, sociological approaches (e.g. Bourdieu, 1990; Giddens, 1984; Schatzki, 2005) that attempt to overcome the micro–macro dualisms that characterise orthodox organisational research.

In addition, theoretical pluralism is encouraged with the recognition of the potential contributions from a wide range of sociological and organisation theories, such as practice-based, institutional, discourse, sense-making, routines, and cognition. One integrative framework developed within the strategy-as-practice literature defines its broad research parameters as studying: practitioners (those people who do the work of strategy); practices (the social, symbolic and material tools through which strategy work is done); and praxis (the flow of activity in which strategy is accomplished) (Jarzabkowski, 2005; Jarzabkowski, Balogun & Seidl, 2007; Johnson, Langley, Melin & Whittington, 2007; Whittington, 2006). These three elements represent an entry into the study of strategising activity that differs from existing “top-down” approaches that work with reified notions of “the firm” and “strategy”.

Strategy-as-practice research is moreover open to a variety of research methodologies and methods to the study of strategic practices, inviting scholars from various disciplinary backgrounds to contribute to our understanding of the actions and routines that constitute strategising.


Strategy as Practice research has evolved from its first positioning and integrative framework by Whittington, in 1996 and 2007, respectively, as well as attendant theorising by scholars following SAP, towards incorporating the debates of Strategy as Process in relation to Strategy as Practice. The debates coalesced in a Special Issue, Strategy Processes and Practices: Dialogues and Intersections” (Strategic Management Journal, March 2018) which led with the view that “it is both possible and desirable” to combine… [process and practice] into a joint research stream called “Strategy as Process and Practice” (SAPP)” (Burgelman, Floyd, Laamanen, Mantere, Vaara, Whittngton, 2018: 1). Attendant to this research stream, Open Strategy (Chesbrough and Appelyard, 2006) suggests that there are fruitful areas for consideration of SAP and SAPP as complementary to Open Strategy. Open Strategy as argued by Chesbrough and Appelyard, in 2007, provided the lens of strategy as an ecosystem which was open to innovation as well as co-ordination through a range of competencies and value additions, specifically those which technology convenes (Appelyard and Chesbrough, 2016). Open Strategy has evolved into both a content (Appelyard and Chesbrough, 2007) and process branches (Whittington et al, 2011).  Appelyard and Chesbrough (2016: 310) indicate that the ‘“content” branch that examines the ability of organizations to  sustain themselves economically with an open approach to innovation (Chesbrough and Appleyard, 2007); and a “process”  branch that explores the systems that can enhance strategy formulation by furthering participation of both internal and  external actors and improving transparency inside and outside of the firm (Whittington et al., 2011)’.  Following on from this line of sight, Hautz, Seidl & Whittington, (2017: 299) state in relation to Open Strategy that  “the concept connects directly with the emerging ‘macro’ agenda in Strategy-asPractice research, an agenda focused on strategy practices with societal reach and significance   (Suddaby, et al., 2013; Seidl and Whittington, 2014). Strategy-as-Practice research has always   recognized the value of local accounts of strategizing activities in specific episodes (Hendry   and Seidl, 2003), but has grappled less with strategy practices that have the capacity, as Open  Strategy does, of transforming organizational relationships and responsibilities more widely in   society.”

This research agenda therefore invites prospective Higher Degrees’ candidates to consider scholarship in what may be termed ‘distinctive’ areas of SAP, SAPP and Open Strategy, while also acknowledging that there are intersections and complementarities between these exciting fields within the grander theories of strategy.

Supervision Team Details

Prof Annemarie Davis

(Contact person for this focus area)


Annemarie Davis is an Associate Professor in Strategic Management and conducted her doctoral research within the strategy-as-practice perspective. She has supervised several postgraduate research projects and favours qualitative studies.

Dr. Charmaine Williamson

ORCID :    

Dr Charmaine Williamson is an Alumnus of UNISA and is currently an academic advisor to universities around Higher Degrees (PhD and M) candidates in the fields of academic argument and writing, theory and qualitative methodologies including facilitating ATLAS.ti support. She is an Academic Associate at two universities and also works in practitioner fields around research grant funding.


Dr Nthabiseng Violet Moraka


Dr Moraka completed her PhD in 2018 where she applied an African feminist lens to investigate why women continue to be few and marginalised in leadership positions despite that the business case is proven and the South African legislation supports it. She found that a lack of talent management hinders the development of women to further their progression to leadership positions. In her master’s degree (MCom) in Business Management, which she obtained cum laude she applied a mixed methods approach to understand transformation in the mining sector and found that women are still subjected to gender stereotypes and experience unfavourable working culture. Dr Moraka has experience in quantitative and qualitative analysis. Since joining the academic fraternity in 2009, Dr Moraka has produced a number of research outputs, including articles published in national and international peer reviewed journals, on her own, and colleagues, delivered papers at national and international peer reviewed conferences and contributed to book chapters.

Mr Amkela Ngwenya


Amkela Ngwenya holds a Master of Commerce degree (cum laude) from the University of South Africa in which he explored the dynamic and nuanced interplay between strategy theory and strategy practice. Mr Ngwenya is a doctoral candidate at the University of Warwick, UK. As a pragmatist, in his master’s research, Mr. Ngwenya adopted a mixed methods research approach that integrated quantitative and qualitative methods and techniques. That is, he can work with both quant and quall oriented students. He is currently ‘The Management of Organisational Change and Renewal’ lecturer at the Department of Business Management. Mr. Ngwenya is passionate about strategy in its various manifestations, especially open strategy and digital technology use in strategising.


Dr. Catherine le Roux


Dr. Catherine le Roux is a Senior Lecturer in Strategic Management. She completed her MCom degree cum laude by developing a measurement tool to measure the embeddedness of sustainability in strategising. She has completed her PhD which focused on the embeddedness of sustainability in management decision making and has published in this field.  Catherine has supervised postgraduate research projects to completion and favours practice focused, qualitative studies.

Ms. Lungile Xaba


Ms. Lungi Xaba is currently a lecturer in the Department of Business Management. She holds a Master of Commerce degree in Business Management from the University of South Africa. In her research, she explored the strategising of middle managers through sensemaking and sensegiving within the employee benefits environment. She is currently a doctoral candidate. Lungi prefers qualitative research within the strategy-as-practice perspective at the micro-level with a focus on the strategising of middle managers.

Dr. Karen Stander


Dr. Karen Stander is a Senior Lecturer within the Department of Business Management. She obtained her master’s degree with distinction from the University of Pretoria in 2012 and was awarded the Dean List award and full academic honorary colours as a result. She also received the Dr WA de Villiers achievement prize for achievement in International Business in 2011 and obtained a Diploma in Events Management with distinction from The Institute of Commercial Management in London in 2009.  Dr Stander has a doctoral degree and her research interests include the practice of strategy in an interconnected world; shared value and competitive advantage.

Ms Ireze van Wyk


Ms. Iréze van Wyk is a lecturer in department of Business Management at UNISA. She obtained her master’s degree with distinction from UNISA in 2014 and was awarded the college research award in 2015 for obtaining this degree. She has submitted her PhD for examining in 2022, which focused on effective ethical strategic decision making by focusing on small and medium entities (SMEs) and identified a strategic decision-making process. Ms van Wyk has published a few articles in national peer reviewed journals with colleagues, presented papers at national peer reviewed conferences and contributed to book chapters. She has also supervised postgraduate research projects. Her research interests include strategic decision-making, integration of ethics in strategy and favours SMEs and qualitative research designs.

Dr. Nadine De Metz


Dr. Nadine De Metz is a senior lecturer in department of Business Management at UNISA. She completed her PhD by focusing on organisational legitimacy and identity during a strategic change process. Nadine is particularly interested in understanding people's behaviours and actions, and her research interest lies in focusing on the micro-study of strategising and activities that make up strategy within an institutional context. Nadine has supervised postgraduate research projects and favours qualitative studies.

Mrs. Elsabe Scholtz


Mrs. Elsabe Scholtz holds a Master of Commerce degree from the University of South Africa in which she explored the impact of time management on sectors high in time demand. Mrs Scholtz is a doctoral candidate at the same University. Although more comfortable with quantitative research, she has some experience in qualitative data collection methods. Mrs Scholtz is passionate about all sectors of strategy, but especially how being cognisant of risk and forecasting assists organisations in obtaining organisational resilience and remain successful.


Dr Tapiwa Muzata


Dr. Muzata is a PhD holder in Corporate Governance and Finance with substantial experience in postgraduate research supervision and examination in the fields of Business Management (e.g., Strategic Management, Sustainability Disclosures, Corporate Governance, Entrepreneurship Governance and Ecosystems). He favours mixed methods studies.