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IDEA GROUP PUBLISHING In Organizations ITB12038 Concepts And History Of Strategy 1

This paper appears in the book, Strategic Alignment Process and Decision Support Systems: Theory and Case Studies by Tamio Shimizu, Marly Monteiro Carvalho, and Fernando JoseBarbin Laurindo © 2006, Idea Group Inc.

Chapter I

Concepts And History Of Strategy In Organizations

The Rise of Strategic Thinking
The concept of strategy was born in military campaigns whose results, whether good or bad, were largely the product of the minds of strategists. From ancient times, much has been said about great military commanders and their strategies. The word strategic comesfrom the Greek stratego, which literally means general. In the classic division of war into operational, tactical, and strategic aspects, strategy is linked to planning, to the broader environment and the longest time frame. Even though its meaning has changed over time, since the Napoleonic wars it has encompassed military, political and economic dimensions. The first writings that containthoughts about what today we would call strategic thinking go back to antiquity, authored by Greeks and Romans. Even in the Bible, there are passages where one can perceive the strategies used to win conflicts. Perhaps the oldest text that deals systematically with this matter is “The art of war,” written by Sun Tzu (1983) of China in the fourth century, B.C. This book appeared in the West in the 18thcentury and became well disseminated by the end of the 20th century. At the time the text was written,

Copyright © 2006, Idea Group Inc. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of Idea Group Inc. is prohibited.


Shimizu, de Carvalho and Laurindo

China was the scene of constant warring among feudal lords. Sun Tzu traveled throughout the countrydisseminating his teachings, as a kind of consultant (Hurst, 2001). The Art of War deals with principles of a general nature, which aid a sovereign in winning wars. For Sun Tzu, the art of war is governed by five factors: • • • • • Moral Law: the degree to which the people are dedicated to and trust their government; The Sky: the climatic conditions; The Earth: the conditions of the land, ofdistances; The Chief: represents the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage, and righteousness; The Method and discipline: the correct deployment of the army, supplies and cost controls.

The book strongly emphasizes the need for generals to know themselves and their adversaries well, which is summed up in the phrase: “If you know your enemy, you do not need to fear the result of a hundredbattles.” Another aspect that he stresses is the importance of avoiding direct confrontation, where force meets force. On the contrary, the adversary should be convinced to not to want to fight: “The greatest merit consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” Sun Tzu’s writings had a lot of influence on the thinking of business people and there are several extensions of his ideaswhich focus on different aspects of business in the literature. His influence was particularly important for authors seeking guidelines and declarations of principle devoted to business strategy. Among the most noteworthy are the authors who originated a school of strategic thought called the “school of positioning” which flourished in the 1980s, and in which Michael Porter is usually included.This and other schools of strategic thinking will be examined later in this chapter. Niccolo Machiavelli’s most famous work, The Prince (Maquiavel, 1976), was a kind of manual of politic science, written in the 16th century. This was during the Italian Renaissance, a time of extreme turbulence, when kingdoms were warring among themselves and many struggled to govern them. Machiavelli’s thinking,...
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