Towards Collaborative Strategy Innovation at the European Space Agency

April 18, 2023

Ntorina Antoni defended her PhD thesis at the department of Industrial Engineering and Innovation Sciences on April 6th.

[Translate to English:]
Ntorina Antoni.

In today's dynamic and fast-changing world, organizations are confronted with challenges, such as climate change and the energy crisis, which demand innovative solutions. Successfully navigating these challenges requires a delicate balance between stability and change. While stability provides a solid foundation, change is necessary to adapt to new realities and innovate. So, how can organizations strike this balance when pursuing strategy innovation to tackle these issues head-on? For her PhD research, Ntorina Antoni investigated how large organizations can effectively develop innovative strategies that balance the diverse and evolving requirements of multiple stakeholders, while also navigating the tension between stability and change.

To explore this research, Ntorina Antoni conducted two empirical studies, including an in-depth case study and a process study, drawing on semi-structured interviews, participant observations, and archival data. Additionally, she developed a prototype for stakeholder management that was based on two empirical studies, and then she tested it across three cases.

European Space Agency

This research examined how the European Space Agency (ESA) manages the evolving demands of its member states while maintaining long-term reliability in the rapidly changing space ecosystem. With the advent of the "NewSpace" era driven by advanced technologies, the challenges facing ESA require a balance of stability and change. To address these challenges, ESA is working to transform its strategy-making processes to be more innovative and less bureaucratic.

Empirical studies

The concept of ‘strategy perimeter’ is a key aspect of the first study from Antoni’s work. It refers to the space within which an organization's strategic vision meets their stakeholders' expectations to achieve strategic goals.

The study finds that managers use different approaches to balance stability and change, such as narrowing or broadening this space. They do so by using ‘anchor points’ like documents and agreements to guide their strategies towards set goals or new ones.

In the process of making strategic decisions, managers face the challenge of obtaining consensus among stakeholders with diverse interests and positions. The second study from Antoni’s thesis shows that managers use different approaches to build consensus at different stages of the process. In the early stage, they seek to avoid disagreements and seek formal commitments. However, in the later stages, they use disagreements to their advantage and experiment with informal practices to reach consensus. These findings shed light on the complexity of decision-making and the importance of adapting to different stages of the process.

Strategy Perimeter Framework

The third study develops a framework called the Strategy Perimeter Framework, which can help organizations manage their stakeholders more effectively. This framework has two main components. First, it includes a way to define the scope of the strategy and evaluate stakeholder involvement, and second, it incorporates co-creation practices that encourage collaboration and experimentation.

By using this framework, organizations can innovate in a more open and collaborative way. This study provides valuable insights for organizations looking to improve their innovation process and work more effectively with their stakeholders.

Valuable insights

Overall, these three studies offer valuable insights into the complex process of strategic decision-making and stakeholder management. The concept of the strategy perimeter, the different approaches to consensus-building, and the Strategy Perimeter Framework can help organizations navigate this process more effectively and innovate in a more collaborative and open way.

Title of PhD-thesis: Managing Strategy Innovation: Co-Navigating the Strategy Perimeter in New Strategic Initiatives at the European Space Agency. Supervisors: Isabelle Reymen, Sharon Dolmans, and Christina Giannopapa. Other main parties involved: European Space Agency, Netherlands Space Office.

Media contact

Barry Fitzgerald
(Science Information Officer)

Latest news

Keep following us