Presenting as a chief strategy officer: A discourse-analytical study of elite subjectivities and vulnerabilities

Eric Knight, Paula Jarzabkowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)


Do elite strategists always project powerfulness in how they talk about their strategy work? Whilst the strategy discourse literature has often assumed that those occupying senior strategy positions project strength in how they negotiate power through discourse, our findings challenge and elaborate this assumption by revealing aspects of vulnerability and powerlessness in how they talk about themselves as elite strategists. Based on the strategy discourse of 48 elite strategists around the world, our findings extend the literature at the intersection of power and subjectivity, strategy discourse, and strategy work in three ways. First, we illuminate surprising vulnerability and powerlessness in some elite strategists’ discourses about themselves, an element that goes beyond the assumption of exclusivity and influence embedded in current studies. Second, we contribute to the discursive opening up of the strategist role itself, showing how elite strategists position themselves in contrast to a variety of ‘others’ in strategy work beyond traditional hierarchies. Finally, we advance understandings on discursive competence in the strategy professional field, illuminating new ways in which its discursive competitiveness and continuity is manifest.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1414-1440
Number of pages27
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number9
Early online date8 Jun 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


  • chief strategy officers
  • discourse-analytic approach
  • subjectivities
  • tensions


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