Strategic Management

Robert MacIntosh

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


    Organizing has been central to the evolution of our species. From our earliest days as hunter gatherers, humans have worked collaboratively to achieve things which might be impossible when acting alone. Long before the emergence of formal organizations such as armies or religious groups, people have acted strategically and our history is littered with the names of those who are remembered for the quality of their strategic thinking. One simple definition is that strategy is the craft of collectively rising to a significant challenge and accomplishing more than might be reasonably expected (MacIntosh and MacLean, 2015: 3). Defined in this way, it is easy to spot strategy wherever unexpected outcomes are achieved. In military terms, leaders such as Alexander the Great occasionally triumph against the odds. They do so by being strategic in deploying their troops or by outsmarting their rivals. In political terms, leaders such as Nelson Mandela or Mahatma Ghandi galvanise efforts to overcome seemingly impossible circumstances and effect regime change where others have failed. In commercial terms, small start-ups go on to dislodge larger competitors and establish a dominant position.

    On first inspection, David should never defeat Goliath, yet this assessment of advantage and disadvantage overlooks the critical role of the strategist. The lowly shepherd boy would almost certainly have lost had he engaged in hand-to-hand combat with a larger, more experienced and more skilled warrior. Instead, David chose to use a particular skill, accuracy with a sling shot, to change the dynamic of the competitive encounter. In order to achieve more than might reasonably be expected, strategists must draw on resources that are often hidden from their opponent’s sight. Knowledge of their unique skills might allow them to achieve things which their opponent would find difficult. A deep sense of resolve might allow them to endure things which others would find unpalatable. A capacity to develop a deep understanding of their context might allow them to spot opportunities and threats in their environment long before others have had the chance to respond. An acute sense of timing might allow them to act decisively when circumstances confer maximum advantage and not a moment too early or too late. Finally, a creative capacity to weave resources, skills, environmental conditions and timing into a strategy which is inherently cunning can allow good strategists to overwhelm better resourced, longer established and seemingly invincible opponents just as David overcame Goliath.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationIntroducing Management in a Global Context
    EditorsRobert MacIntosh, Kevin O'Gorman
    Place of PublicationOxford
    PublisherGoodfellow Publishers
    Number of pages14
    ISBN (Electronic)978-1-910158-49-4
    ISBN (Print) 978-1-910158-47-0 Hbk, 978-1-910158-48-7 Pbk
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2015

    Publication series

    NameGlobal Management Series


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