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This study uses the concept of interpretative repertoires, i.e., localized discourses, to examine how facts are constructed about strategic work in a central government agency. It analyzes strategic work in relation to the public sector context and draws attention to power struggles among different discourses in this context. The identified repertoires can be related to wider public sector management discourses that civil servants need to balance in their strategic work. These discourses can both enable and constrain strategy work, and we conclude that strategy in the public sector needs to be understood in relation to these discourses.
Against the background of the importance of studying context in relation to discursive practices of strategy work in the public sector, in this paper we used the concept of interpretative repertoires, i.e., localized discourses, to examine how facts are constructed about strategic work in a central government agency. This allowed us to study the discursive practice of how people construct facts about their strategic work with the help of repertoires and what repertoires are used (consumed and produced) in doing so. In line with this, our aim with the paper was to examine which discourses are privileged in a public-sector context and the possible consequences this has for the strategic work in public sector organizations.
Like Mantere and Vaara (2008), and Hardy and Thomas (2014), we show that strategy work involves alternative and even competing discourses that have fundamentally different kinds of consequences for strategic work in practice. We add to this research by studying the specific context of the public sector (cf. Balogun et al., 2014). Moreover, building on the ideas of Hardy and Thomas (2014), we were able to make both a theoretical and a practical contribution, by showing that strategy work is situated in multiple discourses and how discourses are used in the work of strategy that brings on power relationships and competition (cf. Dick & Collins, 2014). In this way we also contribute to research on power and performativity of strategy discourse in the public sector (cf. Kornberger & Clegg, 2011; Sorsa et al., 2014; Vaara et al., 2010) by examining what discourses are privileged or undermined in strategy work. We also show that in the competition between discourses, one discourse could outcompete another in one fact construct about strategy work, but in another fact construct the same discourses are used together in cooperation (cf. Kornberger et al., 2017).