Unveiling the “black boxes” of strategy texts: a critical hermeneutics approach

Abstract We present an epistemological and methodological approach to the study of interpretative and ideological elements of organizational strategy based on critical hermeneutics. For so, we have reviewed the approaches and distances between Hans-Georg Gadamer, Jürgen Habermas, Paul Ricoeur and their contributions to unveil the hermeneutic and ideological phenomena in the interpretation of strategy texts. Within the scope of Strategy as Practice perspective, we highlight, as an epistemological position, relations between interpretation, critical and ideology; the epistemological status of author↔text↔interpreter relations and we stand on an approach that shares elements of critical/dialectics and hermeneutics matrices. Methodologically, we indicate the importance of the critical-hermeneutic circles in two interdependent movements (hermeneutics and critical/dialectic) and three moments (contextual/ social-historical, formal/textual and interpretation-reinterpretation). We believe that the “black boxes” of strategy are the ideologies, distorted communications and deformations that “darken” interpretation and critical processes. The critical hermeneutics is presented to “shed light” on these phenomena, from a “place” that bases its consistency in the criticism that is hermeneutical and hermeneutics which is critical.