How Complexity Theory can Enhance the Formation and Implementation of Strategy in an Organisation

This essay discusses the nature of complexity theory and how it may enhance the formation and implementation of strategy in an organisation. Authors such as Michael Porter or Sloan have shaped the established conventional (or Classical) approach to understanding strategy and the analyses here consider how complexity theory contrasts and, yet, complements the Classical perspective.

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Comparing the Rational and Political Models of Strategic Decision Making

Noorderhaven (1995) defines strategic decisions as those which concern “the goals of an organisation as well as the means to reach these goals”. These decisions are distinguished from the more routine day-day decisions of an organisation because they are often unprecedented and contribute to an organisation’s success: Strategic decisions require substantially more ‘effort’ than routine decisions.

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Making Sense of Apple’s Strategy

Written in response to the article ‘Apple iThrone’ (Jan 29th 2015) in The Economist. The ‘Four Schools’ of Strategy Whittington (2002) proposed four categories of strategy: Classical, Evolutionary, Processual and Systemic. With roots from the Enlightenment and a ‘Scientific Method’ approach, the Classical school is a systematic top-down approach whereby rational strategy formulation, performed by senior managers, is then later performed to maximise profits. The implementation is closely monitored to ensure objectives are reached and sufficient resources available and utilised. The Classical school depends on the “rational economic man” and assumes that people are all motivated uniformly toward profitability. The approach inherently separates the formulation of strategy (by a small few) from the implementation (by the many) and with the goal of long-term planning, does not consider that strategy can emerge from trial and error nor must adapt to a dynamic environment. Whittington describes the Evolutionary perspective where markets determine, in Darwinian fashion, which companies will survive i.e. continue to maximise profitability. As markets determine the strategies companies must adopt, this downplays the value of managers as strategists to concentrating on efficiency e.g. cost control. Similar to Darwin’s Natural Selection, the perspective relies on a diversity of companies/products from which[…]

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