We are going to study:
1. What is meant by intended and emergent strategy development
2. Identify intended processes of strategy development in
organisations including: the role of strategic leadership, strategic
planning systems and externally imposed strategy
3. Identify processes that give rise to emergent strategy development
such as: logical incrementalism, political processes, the influence of
prior decisions and organisational systems
4. Explain some of the challenges managers face in strategy
development including: managing multiple strategy processes,
strategy development in different contexts and managing intended
and emergent strategy
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Strategy development processes
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An intended strategy is deliberately formulated or planned
This may be the result of strategic leadership, strategic
planning or the external imposition of strategy
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Strategy may be the deliberate intention of a leader. This may manifest
itself in different ways:
• Strategic leadership as command
• Strategic leadership as vision
• Strategic leadership as decision-making
• Strategic leadership as symbolic
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Strategic planning systems
Strategic planning systems take the form of systematised, step-by-step, procedures
to develop an organisation’s strategy.
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Stages of strategic planning
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Initial guidelines from corporate centre
Corporate-level integration of business plans
Financial and strategic targets agreed
The role of strategic planning
Strategic planning may play several roles within an organisation:
• Formulating strategy – a means by which managers can understand
• Learning – a means of questioning and challenging the taken-forgranted.
• Co-ordinating business-level strategies within an overall corporate
• Communicating intended strategy and providing agreed objectives or
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Benefits of planning
There are additional psychological benefits:
• Can provide opportunities for involvement
• Leading to a sense of ownership
• Provides security to managers and
• Re-assures managers that the strategy is “logical”
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Dangers associated with planning
1. Confusing strategy with the plan
2. Detachment from reality
3. Paralysis by analysis
4. Lack of ownership
5. Dampening of innovation
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The potential benefits and dangers of strategic
planning – summary
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Externally imposed strategy
Strategies may be imposed by powerful external stakeholders:
• Governments can determine strategy in public sector organisations
• Governments can shape strategy in regulated industries (e.g. utilities)
• Multinational companies may have elements of strategy imposed (e.g.
forming local alliances)
• Business units may have their strategy imposed by head office (e.g.
part of a global strategy)
• Venture capital firms may impose strategy on companies they buy into
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An emergent strategy comes about through a series of decisions – a pattern
which becomes clear over time:
……not a “grand plan”, but a developing pattern in a stream of decisions
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Emergent strategy development processes
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A continuum of emergent strategy development processes
Logical incrementalism is the development of strategy by experimentation and
learning – from partial commitments rather than through formulations of total
• Four characteristics of logical incrementalism:
1. Environmental uncertainty – constant scanning of the environment and adapting to change.
2. General goals – avoiding too early commitment to specific goals.
3. Experimentation – “side bet” ventures to test out new strategies.
4. Co-ordinating emergent strategies – drawing together an emerging pattern of strategy from
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Learning organisation – an organisation that is capable of continual regeneration
from the variety of knowledge, experience and skills within a culture that
encourages questioning and challenge
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Strategy and political processes
The political view of strategy development is, that strategies develop as the outcome
of bargaining and negotiation among powerful interest groups (or stakeholders).
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Strategy continuity and prior decisions
Continuity is likely to be a feature of strategy because
• Emergent strategy as managed continuity – each strategic
move is informed by the rationale of the previous move.
• Path-dependent strategy development – strategic
decisions can be a result of historical pre-conditions.
• Organisation culture and strategy development – strategy
is the outcome of the taken-for-granted assumptions,
routines and behaviours in organisations.
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Strategic direction from prior decisions
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Strategy and organisational systems
Strategy development as the outcome of managers making sense of and
dealing with strategic issues by applying established ways of doing things.
Strategy development is influenced by the systems and routines with which
managers are familiar in their particular context.
Two useful explanations of how this occurs:
The resource allocation process (RAP)
The attention-based view (ABV)
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Strategy development as the product of structures,
systems and routines
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Challenges for managing strategy development
• Multiple strategy development processes – most
organisations will develop strategy involving several
• There is no one right way to develop strategy but the
context can be important
• Organisational ambidexterity – exploiting existing
capabilities while exploring new capabilities
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Perceptions of strategy development
Perceptions of strategy development – strategy will be seen
differently by different people:
• Senior executives see strategy in terms of intended, rational,
analytic planned processes, whereas middle managers see strategy
as the result of cultural and political processes.
• Managers in public-sector organisations see strategy as externally
imposed because their organisations are answerable to government
• People who work in family businesses see more evidence of the
influence of powerful individuals, who may be the owners of the
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Strategy development and organisational context
Strategy development processes will differ according to context:
• Organisational characteristics differ – in size, technology and diversity.
• The nature of the environment differs – it may be stable or dynamic; simple or
• Life cycle effects – development processes will evolve and change over the life
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Strategy development contexts
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Strategy development routes
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Managing intended and emergent strategy
There are four important implications:
1. Awareness – is the intended strategy actually being realised?
2. The role of strategic planning – needs to be clear (and it may
be more about co-ordinating emergent strategies).
3. Managing emergent strategy – even established routines
and cultural norms can be managed.
4. The challenge of strategic drift – recognising that strategy
can come adrift and making the required changes in culture
and the paradigm.
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[Please, let us move to the Posts’ panel
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What is Strategy
Implementation? A Quick
Conclusion: intended strategies
• It is important to distinguish between intended strategy – the desired strategic direction
deliberately planned by managers – and emergent strategy which may develop in a less
deliberate way from the behaviours and activities inherent within an organisation.
• Most often the process of strategy development is described in terms of intended strategy
as a result of planning systems carried out objectively and dispassionately. There are
benefits and disbenefits of formal strategic planning systems. However, there is evidence to
show that such formal systems are not an adequate explanation of strategy development as
it occurs in practice.
• Intended strategy may also come about on the basis of central command, the vision of
strategic leaders or the imposition of strategies by external stakeholders.
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Conclusion: emergent strategies
Strategies may emerge from within organisations. This may be explained in
• How organisations may proactively try to cope through processes of logical
incrementalism and organisational learning.
• The outcome of the bargaining associated with political activity resulting in a negotiated
• Strategy development on the basis of prior decisions, path dependency and the takenfor-granted elements of organisational culture that favour certain strategies.
• Strategies developing because organisational systems favour some strategy projects over
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Conclusion: management challenges
In managing strategy development processes, managers face challenges
• Multiple processes of strategy development are likely to be needed if organisations are
to achieve both the benefits of the exploitation of existing capabilities and the exploration
for new ideas and capabilities (organisational ambidexterity)
• Recognising that different processes of strategy development may be needed at different
times and in different contexts
• Managing the processes that give rise to emergent strategy
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1. Explain in generic terms an organisation’s strategy development process. How many different views should
2. In which ways can a strategic leader (i.e. Steve Jobs) influence the role of vision and command of a company
(i.e. Apple Computers)? Give examples.
3. What is strategic planning, how important is it, how frequent does it occur and what stages does it involve?
4. What are the potential benefits and dangers of strategic planning in organisations?
5. What is meant by “emergent strategy development”, how does it occur and how can it be implemented?
6. What is “logical incrementalism” and what are the main characteristics of this strategy development
process? Explain and give examples.
7. Sometimes, strategies may emerge as the outcome of bargaining and power politics. What is the political
view of strategy development? Give examples.
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9. Sometimes, strategies may emerge as the product of prior decisions which inform or constraint
strategy development. What are the various ways of strategy processes informed by prior decisions?
Explain and give examples.
10. Sometimes, strategies may emerge on the basis of an organisation’s systems. How can this occurs?
11. What is “organisational ambidexterity”, how important is it and how can this be achieved?
12. Sometimes processes strategy development are seen differently by different people. How likely can
processes of strategy development be different because of context? Give examples.
13. How can life cycles effects influence the perception on strategy development processes?
14. How do companies use to manage intended and emergent strategies? Explain and give examples.
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We are going to study: