This paper offers a comprehensive and critical review of the " strategy as practice” （SAP） perspective in strategy field and makes a conversation between SAP and Chinese traditional " zhi-xing-he-yi” perspective. SAP perspective emerges under the " practice turn” in western contemporary social theories. Practice theorists adopt a holism view about the world rather than dualism, with a focus on the micro activities of people and the interconnection of these activities with macro social structure or bigger phenomenon. Rooted in practice theories, the SAP perspective emphasizes that strategy is something people do, different from traditional strategy research treating strategy as something organizations have.
Drawing partly from process as well as other-related approaches to strategy, SAP researchers start to form a distinctive academic school with many influential, theoretical, and empirical publications. Early SAP studies attempt to investigate how managers " do strategy” or the strategizing activities of strategy practitioners. The 3P framework （practice, praxis, and practitioner） completes the " practice turn” in strategy; practice refers to the various tools, norms, and procedures of strategy work, praxis refers to the activities involved in strategy-making, and practitioners are all those involved in, or seeking to influence strategy-making. The philosophical foundation of the SAP perspective is phenomenology and hermeneutics that care about the life-world. Building and dwelling are two epistemological worldviews for researching strategy as practice. SAP research has re-conceptualized the " structure-agency” relation, and has extended the boundary of strategy research with three fundamental principles, i.e. practice constrains and enables actions, understanding strategy-making is the primary goal of praxis studies, and we should pay attention to the multiple roles and identities of practitioners.
SAP school also has many conversations with other theoretical approaches of organization studies. SAP and institutional theory share identical theoretical foundations and can learn from each other for further development. Routine dynamics theory is compatible with SAP perspective and can contribute to SAP research as well. Identity theory suggests that identity and strategy are mutually constructed through practice, thus it is tightly connected with SAP. Narrative theory, which pays attention to the production, consumption, reading and understanding of texts or narratives, is a theoretical foundation of SAP.
Two challenges lay ahead of SAP research. One is practical relevance and the other is future direction. Seemingly paradoxical, the practice approach to strategy faces the practical relevance challenge that can be alleviated with the idea of conceptual relevance of practice research according to extant studies. Considerations about the future directions of SAP follow the practical relevance challenge and some scholars have made their suggestions. When comparing SAP with traditional " zhi-xing-he-yi” perspective, we find that they share most philosophical ideas. They both look at the world with a " relational” and process view. The difference between two perspectives is that " zhi-xing-he-yi” requires a higher moral standard of practice and encodes two directions of practice （inside-out and outside-in）.
SAP perspective contributes vital insights to the dialogue about indigenous management research within Chinese academic communities. The fast growing and distinctive management practice of Chinese companies, together with the economic and social transition, makes China now a great context for management and strategy researchers to build indigenous theories. Studies from the SAP perspective offer opportunities for studying the " doing” of indigenous practitioners, either individuals or organizations. As Peter Drucker said, " management is practice; its essence is not knowing but doing”. This paper introduces the SAP perspective, relates it to Chinese traditional philosophical wisdom about knowing and doing, and hopefully will help to facilitate a " practice turn” in indigenous management research.