The point of no return: Ritual performance and strategy making in project organizations

Leonore van den Ende*, Alfons van Marrewijk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Organization scholars call for a more critical approach to the field of Strategy-as-Practice. Particularly, more interpretive and micro-level analyses of strategy from a performative perspective are endorsed. This paper addresses this call with an ethnographic study of rituals that mark kick-offs, launches, milestones, and deliveries in project organizations. Using a performative approach, the aim is to investigate how rituals are sociomaterially orchestrated and the implications this has for strategy making. To collect data, fieldwork was conducted during eight ritual events in four infrastructure projects in the Netherlands, and 46 in-depth interviews were held with ritual participants. Our study reveals the often overlooked strategic role of rituals in terms of (1) engaging an audience, (2) legitimizing project plans, and (3) catalyzing transitions via a ‘point of no return’. The contribution of this paper is a performative analysis of rituals offering insight into the understudied aesthetic, corporeal, and material nature of strategizing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-462
Number of pages12
JournalLong Range Planning
Issue number3
Early online date22 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


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