Tracking Strategies: Towards a General Theory of Strategy Formation

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9780199228508: Tracking Strategies: Towards a General Theory of Strategy Formation

There is a great deal of practice, discussion, and publication about strategy, but surprisingly little investigation of the processes by which strategies actually form in organizations. This book reports the results of Henry Mintzberg's investigation about this that he has conducted over several decades.

Defining realized strategy - the strategy an organization has actually pursued - as a pattern in a stream of actions, this investigation was able to track strategies in organizations over long periods of time, usually three or four decades, and in one case, a century and a half. This meant the patterns by which strategies form and change in organizations, the interplay of 'deliberate' with 'emergent' strategies, and the relationship between leadership, organization, and environment in the strategy formation process, could be revealed.

An introductory chapter considers the term strategy, and the various ways it has been and can be used, and then introduces the studies. These are reported in the next ten chapters, with descriptions of what the strategies were, how they formed over time, and how they combined to establish periods in the history of the organization. This is followed by conclusions about the study revealed about the process.

These studies range across business (six studies), government (two studies), an architectural firm, and a university, as well as one professor in that university. They include U.S. strategy in Vietnam (1950-1973), Volkswagenwrk (1937-1972), and the National Film Board of Canada (1939-1975).

The final chapter, entitled 'Toward a General Theory of Strategy Formation', weaves these findings together in two themes. First is strategy formation in different forms of organization: Strategic Planning in the Machine Organization, Strategic Visioning in the Entrepreneurial Organization, Strategic Learning in the Adhocracy organization, and Strategic Venturing in the Professional Organization. The second theme considers stages in the formation of strategies, from Initiation through Development to Renewal.

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About the Author:


Henry Mintzberg is Cleghorn Professor of Management Studies at McGill University, and is the author of 13 books and about 150 articles, including ones that have won the highest academic and practitioner awards (best book one year at the Academy of Management, for The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning, and best article one year in the Harvard Business Review, for 'The Manager's Job: Folklore and Fact'). Tom Peters has referred to Dr. Mintzberg as "Perhaps the world's premier management thinker." He has held visiting appointments at the London Business School, INSEAD, HEC Montreal, and Carnegie-Mellon. Dr. Mintzberg has been elected an Officer of the Order of Canada, and makes his home in Montreal.

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