Does strategy really matter anymore?

PLEASE NOTE
The EBF site is dead. If you click through you will be taken to the Internet Archive site to find an archived copy.

Has the recent dot-com episode, and have the terrible events of September 11th, somehow changed the rules of the game? Is the idea of strategy founded on an illusion of rationality and the possibilities of control? Is there a geographical context to strategy making that somehow informs those who do business in Europe? Are ‘visions’ and ‘missions’ now more appropriate ways of thinking about corporate navigation?

These and other questions are addressed by some of the most distinguished names in the academic field, as well as by leading business advisers and business people.

In the opening essay Valter Lazzari, Professor of Banking and Finance at Università Cattaneo and Università Bocconi, Italy, reviews the different strands of strategic thinking and comes up with his own subtle conclusions on what strategy means to the modern corporation. He is followed by Harvard’s celebrated Rosabeth Moss Kanter, who argues on the evidence of her recent research that injecting improvisation into the strategy process is likely to bring the best results in the new environment. Christian Ketels, a German at Harvard’s Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, provides a timely and (for Europeans) optimistic reminder that heterogeneity matters, while Oxford’s Richard Whittington insists that a key issue for executives is the creation of strategists with the right mix of skills.

Ivor Kenny, an Irishman who sits on the board of several international companies, uses a rich variety of images to convince readers that they should seek a middle ground between planning and opportunism, while the perennially influential Michael Porter ‘s contribution is typically sharp, insightful and optimistic.

Next, Brett Savill, a PwC partner in the Netherlands, emphasises the shareholder’s perspective, while Gabriel Hawawini, Paul Verdin and Venkat Subramanian reflect on the lessons that have been learnt in the ‘new’ economy. Andrew Campbell, Director of Ashridge Stategic Management Centre, ends this section of the debate by commenting on the other contributions and questioning whether companies with formal strategies are the best performers.

Finally, three business leaders Philip Blake, head of Bayer’s Canadian subsidiary, Baron Paul Buysse, chairman of the Board of Belgian-based Bekaert, and Alistair Fulton, Head of Strategy for BT Cellnet, the UK business of mmO2 plc recently demerged from BT share their wisdom acquired on the front line.

Editor’s Note: All the articles are worth a read, but I found the opening article by Valter Lazzari and the one by Andrew Campbell especially thought-provoking…

Update: The debate continues with new contributions found at:
http://www.ebfonline.com/at_forum/at_forum.asp?id=282 and
http://www.ebfonline.com/at_forum/at_forum.asp?id=379&linked=378

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