Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to contribute a constructionist perspective to debates in the strategy literature about the ways in which managers conduct strategy work. The authors build on observations that fantasy plays a central role in strategy work and aim to focus on the ways in which fantasies of self and other operate in the identity work of participants in the process of developing strategy.
Design/methodology/approach: The study presents an inductive approach based on extended participant observation in two different organizations. Each engagement lasted about three years and the analysis is based on data gathered in meetings, workshops, focus groups, interviews and other informal settings.
Findings: The paper presents four different types of fantasy, which were observed in the data set. These fantasies are labeled: helpful pairing; the arms race; the eternal optimist and the merchant of doom. It is also suggested that there are three useful dimensions that might be used to unpack the ways in which fantasies operate. These are role playing and role taking; temporal place and associated value; the relationship between fantasy and evidence.
Research limitations/implications: The authors propose that future research on strategy should entail an understanding of the role of fantasy in what people say and do.
Originality/value: The paper offers four types of fantasy construction as a contribution to the extant literature and three analytical dimensions which can be used to consider the ways in which fantasy operates in the identity work of strategists.
- Role play
- Social interaction
- Strategic management