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

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)108-119
Number of pages12
JournalLong Range Planning
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Feb 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We would like to acknowledge the financial support of the Chaire d’excellence Pierre de Fermat, Région Midi-Pyrénées, Millman Foundation, New College, University of Oxford , the Saïd Foundation , and the Oxford University Centre for Corporate Reputation . We would also like to thank Jay Barney, Ken Okamura, Aaron Thegeya, and Androniki Menelaou for their helpful comments on this paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Finance
  • Strategy and Management


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