Best Paper Award

Best Paper Award: (l-r) Ignacio Canales, of the Strategic Management Society, PhD student Chun-Fang Yang, and Sotirios Paroutis, Professor of Strategic Management

How frontline employees take part in corporate strategy-making is a question being addressed by a study conducted at Warwick Business School which won one of the Strategic Management Society’s Best Paper Awards. 

“Companies are increasingly adopting open strategy practices to include multiple stakeholders in their decision-making,” said doctoral student Chun-Fang Yang, who produced the research with Sotirios Paroutis, Professor of Strategic Management.  

“But this move beyond the stuffy old boardroom model has not usually included grassroots-level employees.” 

This doctoral research follows a technology firm which faced falling margins as the US imposed tariffs on China in January 2018.  

The firm put together a strategic team to figure out how to respond to the tariff crisis. The team included employees from a range of functions – engineering, supply chain, factory operations, global trade and so on. Importantly for the study it also took team members from across the organisational hierarchies – from directors and line-managers to frontline employees.  

An in-depth case study was conducted from 2021 to 2022 to understand this process, observing meetings, gathering data from a range of company documents, and conducting interviews with employees – most of them grassroots-level workers. 

The paper by Chun-Fang and Professor Paroutis of Warwick Business School’s Strategy & International Business Group examined the open strategy practices adopted by employees; and also proposed a conceptual model for bringing strategy formulation and implementation – so often at opposite ends of a continuum – closer together.  

Strategic Management Society award 

Presenting their findings to the annual conference of the Strategic Management Society (SMS) in Toronto, the pair picked up the Best Paper Award in the Strategy Practice Interest Group. 

Entitled Open Co-strategizing with Grassroots-Level Employees, the paper saw off a high number of competing submissions.    

Based in Chicago, the SMS has more than 3,000 members worldwide consisting of academics, business practitioners and consultants.    

“My only goal was to have my paper accepted by the conference and participate in intellectual discussions during the event,” Chun-Fang said. 

“So, I am incredibly grateful to the SMS annual conference reviewers for recognising my work and want to express my sincere appreciation for the invaluable support and guidance I received from Professor Paroutis and Professor Loizos Heracleous at Warwick Business School.” 

Professor Paroutis said: “This is fantastic news, well done for your hard work Chun-Fang! This is also testament to the high calibre of candidates WBS has been able to attract and our research environment enabling our doctoral community to reach their aspirations by producing high quality, impactful studies.” 


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