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Strategy narratives in Turkish international contracting: Mobilising the past as a means of creating a heroic identity

Ulutas Duman, D. (2020) Strategy narratives in Turkish international contracting: Mobilising the past as a means of creating a heroic identity. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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To link to this item DOI: 10.48683/1926.00101612


This research is about competitive strategy in the international construction sector. Drawing on the ‘narrative turn’ in organisation studies, it emphasises the temporal and discursively constructed nature of competitive strategy. The central argument of the narrative approach is that individuals, and by extension practitioners involved in strategy, make sense of the world by telling stories. Such stories are continuously mobilized to constitute an overall sense of coherence and direction with direct material implications. This ongoing process of narrative construction resonates with ‘identity work’. The current study, therefore, proposes ‘identity work’ as a key strategic practice which is directly implicated in shaping not only the trajectory of individual contracting firms, but also the Turkish construction sector as a whole. The empirical analysis focuses on strategy narratives as mobilized within the Turkish international contracting sector. Competitive strategy narratives are seen to provide a means of understanding the formation and enactment of strategy. Turkish contractors have projected themselves increasingly successful, often operating in turbulent, high-risk markets characterized by conflict, political discord and stark discontinuities. They describe themselves as the heroes of turbulent markets, especially in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and former Soviet Union (USSR) countries. In contrast, much of the literature on competitive strategy is characterised by assumptions of economic and political stability. Such assumptions may well be justified in the markets of North America and Western Europe, but they have little resonance with the regions targeted by Turkish contractors. The adopted narrative approach provides a retrospective and contextual understanding of the competitive strategy of Turkish contractors through the analysis of sectoral and individual narratives. The empirical data covers a sectoral narrative, published as a quasi-historical book and 30 narrative interviews carried out with experienced managers from Turkish contracting firms. The empirical analysis focuses on the ‘narrative infrastructure’ as continuously co-constructed by the narratives at sectoral and individual level. The findings highlight the multi-actor and multi-level processes of strategy making. Narrative analysis demonstrates the way in which actors, actions and events are positioned within a plot structure, with direct implications for the enactment of future strategic practices. The findings suggest that strategic actions can only ever be identified in retrospect, and that such arguments are always made with an eye on the future.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Green, S. and Larsen, G.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Construction Management and Engineering
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Science > School of the Built Environment > Construction Management and Engineering
ID Code:101612


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