Little Agreement On The Strategy Reality Commerce Essay


The word strategy has been debated and has generated lots of controversy surrounding its meaning in the business world of the past and today. It is a highly ambiguous word that is usually associated with a long range planning, a hierarchically structured system of objectives and goals, and a selected way of creating a fit between external environment, internal resources and capabilities (Bernus et al 2003). The word was first associated as a military way and process of waging and implementing successful wars as seen in the book ART OF WAR written by Sun Tzu in 6th century BC. Strategy is an art in general as well as it has been represented as a set of psychological skill along with behavioral skill of a character (Bernus et al., 2003). Strategy was first linked to business and management by the influential Greek statesman Pericles.Although strategy stands out as an important aspect in business today, there is little or no specific definition given that defines its purpose (mark ides 1999, Bernus et al 2003). In fact it would be miraculous to find two people who share the same definition of strategy (Markides 1999). Markides (1999) believed that looking over a problem from different perspective gives us more productive results than bring together data and examining them. Although the concept of strategy and business strategy has been explained significantly through various definitions, a true defining meaning of business strategy is still missing. Instead, numerous theoretical traditions and strategic definitions are presented which overflows the strategic management field. Every business man or women define strategy in a way he or she feels works in a field they have interest in e.g. (Gerry J and Kevan S, 1998) has defined Strategy as the direction and scope of an organisation over the long-term which achieves advantage for the organisation through its configuration of resources within a challenging environment, to meet the needs of markets and to fulfil stakeholder expectations. And also (Lamb 1984) defined it as a strategic management process of identifying and developing an organization's objectives, policies and plans to achieve these objectives by allocating resources to implement these policies and plans. It combines the activities of the various functional areas of a business to achieve organizational objectives. This confusion and misjudgement has created a situation whereby slogans are used to define strategy in common sentences. Due to this reason, some have claimed e.g. weekly news magazine THE ECONOMIST claims that: "Nobody really knows what strategy is" (The Economist 1993). Although the subject of business strategy is taught and academically researched for over a century, there are still significantly a great amount of disagreement is present on the topic of 'what strategy really is?', along with 'how a good strategy is developed?'. (Miles and Snow, 1978; cited in Bernus et al., 2003)

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The Making of a strategy involves management, economics, law as well as organizational theory. Economists in the present days have wide range believe that defining a successful strategy will forever be an ongoing process that never ends. Some have made examples with big corporations like DELL and WALL-MART who's earlier success was as a result of good strategy but as they grew bigger in future, the same strategy did not guarantee them to be successful. The reasoning behind this is that none of the companies will ever be able to predict exactly how the environment will change and when these changes are going to take place in future. (ibid, 1999). Markides explained this situation using the frog story in his Sloan management review of spring 1999. He explains that a frog who when put in a pot of boiling water, jumps out. But when the same frog is instead put in a pot of cold water and the water is slowly brought to its boiling point, the frog stays in the pot and dies. In the same manner if a company does not react to the constant changes taken place in its environment, it will find itself boiled to death (Markides 1999). They will have to redefine their strategic management to suit their present day customers and climate. Strategic management is an interdisciplinary topic where the viewpoint will always shift with new researches and approaches. in his writings defines strategy in some sense is a way through which a business can counter its rival's actual or predicted actions(Steiner 1979). Strategy is a plan of getting from one stage to another. It is a position, perspective as well as a pattern in actions over time (Mintzberg 1994). This simply means that strategy changes depending on a situation over a period of time. This is the pattern in decision as well as actions which Mintzberg identified as realized or emergent strategy (Nickols, 2006). This definition influenced other observers look at strategy in a different perspective. E.g. Andrew's (1980) definition shows expectation and links to Mintzberg's (1994) attention to plan, perspective and pattern (Nickols, 2006). In his own definition, Andrew (1980) divided business strategies; which he identified as the basis of rivalry for a given organisation, and corporate strategy; which decides for the organisation on which firm to compete with, Thereby anticipating positioning as a form of strategy (Nickols, 2006).

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Corporate strategy is defined as the model of choices made in an organisation that decides the objectives, generates the most important plans as well as policies for the different trade the organisation deals in, the type of economics as well as human organisation it is or intending to become, also the character of the non-economic as well as economic payout intended to be made to its employees, shareholders, communities as well as customers (Andrews, 1980: 18-19). Competitive strategy is all about bringing the difference in an organisation by purposely going for a diverse range of actions to bring a distinctive mix up of benefits (Porter, 1986, 1996). The purpose of strategy has always been about beating competition in a competitive market. Companies use different strategies and approach to distinguish their product from other competitors to serve the consumers best interest. Competitive strategy can also be about creating an additional values to a company through a set of activities that are used together to achieve a goal and should be different from other firms. (ibid, 1986; 1996). (Porter 1986) defines competitive strategy in another way as "the grouping of different objectives for which the company is motivated as well as the plans through which companies make attempt to reach its set objectives."(Porter 1986).

Some observers suggest that organisations attain positions of leadership by a narrow business focus not by a broader one (Treacy and Wiersema 1993). Some see strategy as a matter of perspective. (ibid, 1980; Nickols, 2006) others see it as a single driving force of a business (Tregoe & Zimmerman, 1980),which leads to an explanation that it is a framework which channels those preferences that determines the nature as well as the course of a business firm(Tregoe & Zimmerman, 1980 ). (Robert, 1993) suggest that judgments made by companies about which services as well as product to offer, what kind of market segments to be served, which customer is to be served or in which of the geographic area, all this is based on the single driving force amongst several other driving forces which only one can be used (Robert (1993, ibid, 1993; 2003; Nickols, 2006). Also there are three significance driving forces that can be provided as the source for every strategy are according to Treacy and Wiersema (1993), consumer understanding, product management and operational quality. one could be used as a source for every strategy used (Nickols, 2006).

In conclusion, having research and read different articles and books on strategy and its use in business and beyond, I have to say that Markides (1999) statement is definitely true to a point. In his own words, the more you try to describe or venture into the true meaning of strategy; you are left with a wind range of questions than answers. As I mentioned above, everybody have their own meaning of strategy in the way it works for them, all its definition are either contradicting or repetitive in some sense. Looking at my statement, I can't help to think that Markides (1999), Nickels (2006), Robert (1993) etc all had different way of explaining strategy. The presented their different argument and explained it differently with some a bite similar. Some disagreed with others citing their work as a more updated approach. With all these put into consideration, we can now be very sure to say that Markides (199) was right. Therefore Markides (1999)'s statement was true that "there is surprisingly little agreement on what strategy really is" (Markides, 1999).

Reference and Bibliography:

Gerry Johnson, Kevan Scholes : Exploring Corporate Strategy 

Hart, B. H. L. (1967) Strategy, Basic Books.

Markides, C. C. (1999) 'In Search of Strategy', Sloan Management Review, Spring, pp 6 -7

Mintzberg, H. (1994) The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning, Basic Books.

Nickols, F. (2006) Strategy: Definitions and meaning, Skull works.

Péter Bernus, László Nemes, Günter Schmidt Handbook on enterprise architecture (2003)

Andrews, K. (1980) The Concept of Corporate Strategy, 2nd Edition, Dow-Jones Irwin.

Porter, M. (1986) Competitive Strategy, Harvard Business School Press.

Porter, M. (1996) 'What is Strategy?', Harvard Business Review,

Steiner, G. (1979) Strategic Planning, Free Press.

The Economist, 20 March 1993

Treacy, M. & Wiersema, M. (1993) 'Customer Intimacy and Other Value Disciplines', Harvard

Business Review, Jan-Feb 1993.

Tregoe, B. & Zimmerman, J. (1980) Top Management Strategy, Simon and Schuster.

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