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Select a minimum of three of the schools of strategy identified by Mintzberg et al (1998), undertake a comprehensive critical analysis of their underlying assumptions, perspectives and paradigmatic stance

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Introduction

"Select a minimum of three of the schools of strategy identified by Mintzberg et al (1998), undertake a comprehensive critical analysis of their underlying assumptions, perspectives and paradigmatic stance" Every business is different and as such believes in and strives for different things. It is impossible for every single business to operate using a completely unique business strategy. Instead, the majority adopt the ten business strategies identified by Mintzberg, Ahlstrand and Lampel. The extent to which these are adopted varies and relies greatly on the managers of the business. In some cases managers may adopt one strategy completely whilst in others a combination of two or more may seem more appropriate. The different schools can be classified as either being prescriptive or descriptive. The design, planning and positioning schools all fall under the prescriptive category whilst the entrepreneurial, cognitive, learning, power, cultural, environmental and configuration schools are all described as descriptive schools. "Prescriptive schools aim to control strategy process through analysis and are interested in how strategies should be formulated. Whereas descriptive schools are more about how strategies arise and emerge." (Mintzberg et al, Strategy Safari 1998) The Positioning School, an analytical process "This prescriptive school was the dominant view of strategy formulation in the 1980's. It was given impetus especially by Harvard professor Michael Porter in 1980, preceded by a long literature on military strategy, dating back to 500 BC and that of Sun Tzu, author of 'The Art of The War'." (www.1000ventures.com) This school varies from other schools as there are only a few strategies or positions in the market place, which is economic and competitive, that are available whereas there are no limits to strategies in some schools, e.g. ...read more.

Middle

The role of the leader in such cases is to manage the process as a whole in order to allow the emergence of novel strategies. Strategies under this school are developed through looking at the past, developing this into plans for the future and then considering perspectives that will guide the overall behaviour of the organisation. The formulation and implementation processes involved are very closely intertwined and often become indistinguishable. This is because it is usually the people who are implementing the strategy that can see the future of the company and are therefore involved in formulation. In other schools this is not the case, formulation will occur first and will be separate from the implementation of the strategy. (Ideas from lecture notes) The school developed on the ideas of the political scientist Lindblom, and James Brian Quinn. Lindblom developed the idea that each small decision that is made represents the small steps that are made in strategic decisions, incrementalism. Quinn added to Lindblom's theory which was mainly of a 'disjointed incremental' strategy and took it forward into 'logical incrementalism'. "The real strategy tends to evolve as internal decisions and external events flow together to create a new, widely shared consensus for action among key members of the top management team. In well-run organizations, managers pro-actively guide these streams of actions and events incrementally towards conscious strategies." (Quinn, J.B. Managing Strategic Change.) As with any of the schools there are several critiques of it. The critiques of the learning school can be looked at in terms of there being no strategy, a lost strategy and of there being the wrong strategy. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is because it can use very abstract, vague and aggregated dimensions of the environment. Strategies need to be specific to the case and the environment within which they are in operation therefore this vagueness can be detrimental to the overall results of the strategy. The most important critique however is concerned with the 'strategic choices' set out by the population ecologists. The idea that "organizations have no real strategic choice - that there is some sort of 'environmental imperative' out there has been criticized on a number of grounds." (Mintzberg et al, Strategy Safari, 1998) These include who is it in fact that chooses the environment? Are organizations really completely separate from the environment within which they operate? And more importantly, some may say, "do environments 'exist' at all, or are these just the perceptions of people - social constructions themselves?" (Mintzberg et al, Strategy Safari, 1998) Conclusion After looking at the Positioning, Learning and Environmental schools, it can be concluded that each school does not have unique ideas. There are very often aspects of the schools used to develop the ideas of the others. For example, the positioning school is developed upon ideas of the design and planning schools. This idea can be illustrated by the following diagram (taken from www.1000ventures.com) which shows the correlation between each of the different strategies. There is no perfect, ideal strategy. Therefore it is down to the individual managers of the individual organisations to develop a strategy which works best for them and the rest of their organisation, whether this be by adopting a complete school set out by Mintzberg et al, or by taking key elements of several of the schools and tailoring these to meet their specific needs and requirements. ...read more.

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