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Ecosystemic thinking: integrating ecosystem assessment to the strategic thinking process


Ecosystems is a new form of organization in networks through which companies, universities, intermediaries, government and non-government organizations collaborate. Despite its ultimate importance for the success of contemporary business strategies, the existent strategy planning tools have not yet incorporated the progress of the ecosystem assessment methods that have been developed in the last two decades. One reason for that is the fact that research on strategic planning has been practically abandoned by strategic management scholars since the criticisms of Henry Mintzberg in the 1980s and 1990s.Nevertheless, strategic planning tools are still among the most popular management tools adopted by practitioners. These tools have kept their normal course of development, as practitioners keep using them and adapting them to their specific needs, but scholars are not closely following, studying and contributing to this evolution. Consequently, the chasm between theory and practice increases more and more. This research aims at reversing this trend, at least with respect to the incorporation of ecosystems into strategic management, through a multi-method research project whose ultimate goal is the proposition and test of a new tool that better addresses the needs of contemporary businesses. To that effect, to begin with, we aim at performing a systematic and content-analysis based literature review, so to understand what is in the intersection between the research on strategy and on ecosystems. 

To verify to what extent it corresponds to the reality of strategic planning and management at the practitioner's level, we will next conduct a world-level survey to inquire managers involved in the strategic design process about the planning practices adopted, the way they integrate the assessment of their surrounding environments to this planning process, as well as their pains and gains in this process. From the insights gathered in these first two steps, using the design science methodology, we will then propose a general-purpose tool for strategy thinking that systematically assess its ecosystem (the "ecosystemic thinking" tool) as well as the procedures required for the use of this tool in the creation, implementation and (re-)evaluation of strategies. 

Next, we will customize and test this generic-purpose tool into four different ecosystem setups, through real application cases. The cases will be developed for the following types of ecosystems: (i) an innovation ecosystem in the aerospace sector, (ii) a digital ecosystem in the manufacturing sector, (iii) the entrepreneurial ecosystem of life-science business in Québec and (iv) a production circular ecosystem setup in Québec. Finally, we will perform a critical review of the tools involving experts in the field and the participants of our four application cases, so to evaluate how our proposition addresses the gains and pains that were identified by practitioners in the survey, and also to identify best practices in strategic management at the ecosystem level that contribute to the current debates about strategic thinking in the academic community. The relevance of results from this proposal goes beyond the management sciences research community, as the tool that will be developed can be used within any company or organization that to which strategic planning makes sense. In this proposition, we also establish a plan for the formalization, valorization and dissemination of the tool to scholars, practitioners, government decision makers and the public in general (managers and non-managers involved in decision making).




2022-04 - 2025-03

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