Anthony Giddens’ (1984) structuration theory has an obvious appeal for strategy-as-practice researchers. Of course, Giddens is a practice theorist himself; for him, understanding people's activity is the central purpose of social analysis. Giddens makes a direct appeal, therefore, offering concepts of agency, structure and structuration that have intrinsic importance to practice research. His conception of human agency affirms that people's activity matters: practice needs studying because it makes a difference to outcomes. At the same time, his notion of social structure allows for both constraint and enablement: to understand activity, we must attend to institutional embeddedness. And the concept of structuration brings together structure and agency to give them flow – continuity, but also the possibility of structural change.
All these features of structuration theory are attractive to SAP researchers in themselves. Giddens has an indirect appeal as well, however, for his central concepts can help connect strategy as practice to other streams of organizational research too. The structurationist sense of flow builds a bridge to the important process tradition in organization theory, which has long drawn on structuration theory to analyse change over time (Pettigrew 1985; Floyd et al. 2011; Langley 2009). The importance of people's activity complements the growing appreciation of the role of individuals in the emergent micro-foundations stream of strategy research (Powell, Lovallo and Fox 2011; Barney and Felin 2013). Finally, and constituting an important theme in this chapter, structuration theory's concern for institutional embeddedness offers an obvious platform for recent efforts to encourage strategy as practice and institutional theory to work together (Suddaby, Seidl and Lê 2013; Vaara and Whittington 2012).
My task in this chapter should be an easy one, therefore. In exploring the various ways in which Giddens’ structuration theory may contribute to strategy-as-practice research, I shall be pushing at many open doors. Structuration theory is not easy to apply empirically, however, and there are alternative approaches that can do more or less similar kinds of job. My advocacy of structuration theory will not be monomaniac.