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A Critical Review of ‘crafting Strategy' by Henry Mintzberg

Autor:   •  January 26, 2014  •  Research Paper  •  1,092 Words (5 Pages)  •  3,744 Views

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Strategy is a topic that receives a considerable amount of focus in both business schools and industry throughout the world (Knight and Mueller, 2004). A key debate in the field strategy is how exactly strategy is formulated. In ‘Crafting Strategy’ Mintzberg (1987) examines the distinctions between planning strategy and crafting strategy. This literature review will discuss Mintzberg’s argument and approach in the wider debate of strategy, followed by an analysis of the articles strengths and weaknesses.

The position of the article in the wider debate about processes of strategy

Whittington (2001) categorised strategy in to four principle approaches; Classical, evolutionary, processual and systematic. Mintzberg challenged traditional classical planning on a number of levels; Classicalist believed that the world was stable enough that strategist could accurately forecast through a rational process of deliberate calculation and analysis and that they are best created by senior management away from the operating environment (Whittington, 2001). Prescriptive strategic management literature indicates there is “a correlation between organizational performance and strategic planning, although empirical evidence is less than conclusive in this respect (Glaister and Falshaw, 1999; McKiernan and Morris, 1994; Pearce II et al., 1987; Rigby, 2001),” (Gunn and Williams, 2007, p206).

Mintzberg believes that the term ‘planning strategy’ causes people to misinterpret how strategy is actually constructed (Whittington, 2001). Mintzberg (1987) is of the opinion that by observing patterns take shape in their own environments, strategists discover strategies opposed to creating them. Emergent strategy, such as this, can be defined as a trial and error approach focusing on adaptive amendments rather than future fixed objectives that can be seen in prescriptive approach (Downs, 2003). However, Mintzberg focuses solely on potential gains that can be obtained through error the potential cost of the trial and error approach is overlooked. Adcroft (2012) observes a purely emergent approach is a trial and error driven activity where intuition is wrong as often as it is right, leading to rise in levels of risk that may be unacceptable.

His view planning should evolve to adapt to complexities in unpredictable environments shows he favoured the processual approach (Burnes, 1996). That said, despite favouring the processual approach Mintzberg (1994) emphasises strategy is neither solely prescriptive nor solely emergent, but a mixture, with the need for both flexibility and control. Recognising this need places the article between Whittington’s classical and processual approaches. Some aspects of both strategies work well together and it is possible for a company to adapt these strategies collectively utilising both successfully (Rees, 2012).

There are many arguments and theorists that


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