Alignment of strategy and structure in local government
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionJacobsen DI, Johnsen Å. Alignment of strategy and structure in local government. Public Money & Management. 2019 https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09540962.2020.1715093
Strategic positioning and structural alignment in the public sector is a neglected area of research. This paper analyses the strategic positions of prospectors, defenders and reactors and structural alignment in Norwegian municipalities. Top managers responding to a survey perceived that the municipalities did align their organizational structures to the strategic positions for prospectors and defenders, but not for reactors, as hypothesized, but these relationships were modest. The top managers often found it difficult to provide consistent responses on their organizations’ choices of strategic positions. The authors show that many Norwegian municipalities have minimal alignment of their organizational structures and strategies. A modest alignment of structure to strategy may explain the seemingly low impact of strategic planning found in many studies, as changes in strategies have to be followed up with structural changes in order to be implemented effectively. In addition, the paper strongly indicates that strategy practitioners in top municipal management levels find it difficult to define their organization’s choice of strategic position. Thus it is highly probable that policy-makers and strategy practitioners will see a higher impact of strategic planning if they define their organization’s choice of strategic positions better and actually align the organizational structures more with these strategic positions.