Dissertation: This way strategy becomes everyone’s business

Posted on 04/06/18.

Suvi Einola

Suvi Einola's doctoral dissertation focuses on the eternal Achilles’ heel of organizations: the execution of the strategy.

Everyone recognizes an organization where the strategy made by the top management is dusting in the desk drawer when the other organization experiences it as verbiage or even swearword. Once in a while, the management team digs the strategy of the box drawer to find out that the targets set for it have not been met. According to the dissertation, this does not have to be the case.

“If you cannot simplify, you cannot participate”

When the strategy is what the organization does rather than something the organization has it is essential to create a common understanding of the strategy and its content. Creating that common understanding is possible by following a few key principles. Strategy work should involve as many people as possible. For successful engagement, strategy work should be guided through simple tools and practices.

"I have often been asked what kind of strategy is best. The answer is simple: one in which I have been involved. Then I am committed to implementing the strategy", says Suvi Einola who is defending her doctoral dissertation at the University of Vaasa, Finland.

Einola has studied both private companies and municipal organization. She points out that both private and public organizations face the same problems.

"It was previously thought that municipal organizations do not need a strategy because the law defines the tasks of the municipality. Municipalities, however, compete more than ever before to get businesses in their area, hence creating new jobs and, on the other hand, developing a skilled workforce and creating sufficient study places in different fields of studies. I see a lot of similarities between competition among municipalities and competition between companies", Einola says.

“Shared understanding can only be found in dialogue”


The rapid pace of change in both public and private organizations raise new tensions, across which organizations must be able to balance and build a common understanding of the desired direction. The practices and tools that enable participation will provide the basis for finding the balance.

"Loose vision clauses and values that could fit in any organization do not help. The organization must be able to engage in genuine dialogue with its core competencies, customer promises, strategic logic, goals, measures, and actions it commits to follow. Finally, the work done must be able to be summarized in the way that everyone in the organization can remember and commit to its core objectives."

Einola has collected extensive ethnographic data from the strategy work of the City of Vaasa in years 2012-2018. She has facilitated over 100 strategy workshops at different levels of the city organization. The description of the strategy work of the city of Vaasa "The Energy Capital of Nordic" written with Professor Marko Kohtamäki from University of Vaasa has been published as a teaching case example in the world's most widely sold strategy book: “Exploring Strategy.”

Public defence

The public examination of Master of Health Care Suvi Einola´s dissertation in the field of Social and Health Management ”The interplay between the sociomaterial, cognitive and paradox views in the field of strategy as practice” will be held on Friday, 8 June 2018 at 12 o’clock in Auditorium Nissi (Tritonia), University of Vaasa.

Professor Timo Pihkala (Lappeenranta University of Technology) will act as opponent and professor Pirkko Vartiainen (University of Vaasa) as a custos. The examination will be held in Finnish.

Further information

Suvi Einola, tel. +358 40 5630507, suvi.einola(at)univaasa.fi

Einola, Suvi (2018): The interplay between the sociomaterial, cognitive and paradox views in the field of strategy as practice : “How can we know what we think until we see what we do”. Acta Wasaensia 402. Doctoral dissertation. University of Vaasa.

Publication pdf: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-476-813-9

Back