What is strategy? For many it is the application of a theory, model or framework. In this book Spender develops a different creative approach. Emphasizing that firms face uncertainties and unknowns (knowledge gaps) he argues that the core of strategic thinking and processes rests on the organization's leaders developing newly imagined solutions to the opportunities that these uncertainties open up.
Drawing on a wide range of ideas from strategy, economics, entrepreneurship and philosophy he stresses the importance of judgment in strategy, and argues that a key element of the entrepreneur and executive's task is to engage chosen uncertainties, develop a language to express and explain the firm's particular business model for dealing with these, and thus create innovation and value. At the same time he shows how the language the strategist creates to do this gives the firm identity and purpose, and communicates this to its members, stakeholders, and customers.
In an accessible and engaging style Spender introduces these ideas, and reviews the strategy tools currently available from consultants and academics. Throughout he stresses the uncertainties or knowledge absences that pervade business and make effective strategizing both necessary and valuable. He outlines a structured practice that managers and consultants might chose to follow, not a theory.
With appendices on casework, teaching strategy, current strategy texts, and further reading this book makes an important contribution to our understanding of the field and practice of strategy, opening up new approaches for managers, consultants, strategy teachers and students.
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J.-C. Spender, ESADE, Universitat Ramon Llull, Visiting Professor
J.-C. Spender trained initially as a nuclear engineer, and worked for Rolls-Royce & Associates, IBM, and as a merchant banker. He completed his PhD in Strategic Management at the Manchester Business School, which won the 1980 Academy of Management AT Kearney Prize. This was later published as Industry Recipes (Blackwell 1989). After being on the faculty at various universities including the Cass School, York University (Toronto), UCLA, University of Glasgow, and Rutgers, J.-C. Spender retired in 2003 as Dean of the School of Technology & Business at SUNY/FIT. He is now Visiting Professor at ESADE, Universitat Ramon Llull, and in addition holds visiting positions at Lund University School of Economics and Management, Cranfield School of Management, Open University Business School, University Campus Suffolk, and International School of Management (Paris).
"In this fascinating book, Spender integrates decades of study of uncertainty, knowledge (and lack of it), entrepreneurship, industry recipes, language, and judgment into mainstream strategic analysis. The result-a brilliant reinterpretation of strategy tools and uncertain situations. Nurtured on economic rationality, I found this a major step towards closing the gap between managerial practice and strategic theorizing." --Robert M. Grant, University of Bocconi
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