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Strategic Planners in More Turbulent Times: The Changing Job Characteristics of Strategy Professionals, 1960–2003

by Richard Whittington, Basak Yakis-Douglas, Kwangwon Ahn, Ludovic Cailluet

ARTICLE | Long Range Planning | Forthcoming


Abstract


This paper investigates the changing job characteristics of strategic planners in the face of long-run increases in environmental turbulence since the 1960s. We build on contingency theory to examine how growing turbulence may have impacted three aspects of strategic planner jobs: temporal range, processes, and organizational location. Drawing upon job advertisement data between 1960 and 2003, we compare strategic planner jobs over time and relative to a similar managerial function, marketing. We find that the secular increase in environmental turbulence is negatively associated with forecasting (temporal range), economics and analysis (processes) and centralization (organizational location), especially when compared with marketing. These findings broadly support contingency theory in a domain that has so far lacked empirical consensus. We contribute further by introducing a fine-grained methodology that allows a detailed approach to contingency theory studies of managerial roles, and opens a bridge to the Strategy as Practice tradition of research. Our findings also have implications for participation in strategic planning in firms, for the role of analysis in management education, and for research attention to strategic planning as an enduring strategy practice.