Strategic management schools

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NN, Peter Bouwdewijn

Strategic schools of thought

Strategic schools of thought have been an interest of research for a long time. (Mintzberg, 1990b) defined different management schools of thought. Management schools.png

All schools differ in their approach. Every approach has its advantages and disadvantages. Also on their approach towards the environment. As the table states schools differ in which degree they use the environment and its input for corporate decisions. In some environments up front planning is possible, in other environments it will simply mean a company's demise. In relation to the adaptive cycle strategic schools of though are of high important. A planning approach comes from the idea that an environment can be controlled and managed therefore it fits in the certain area (bottom-left). A learning or environmental approach is more focussed on the environment, and lets environmental changes dictate more strategic decisions as a planning school. This suits the more uncertain areas in the adaptive cycle model. The appliance of a wrong strategic approach in a certain state of the adaptive cycle could lead to a breakdown of the company. Therefore it is important to know in which business, which environment and wich dynamic is dominant in an environment; which strategic management approches will work. Sensing in which state of the adaptive cycle a company resides becomes a factor which school of thought should be applied.

A more recent article that focusses on different approaches on thoughts about prediction. These resemble the essential strategic approaches grounded by the theory of (Mintzberg,1990b). The specific article can be found on this wiki Riccardo Vecchiato: Environmental uncertainty, foresight and strategic decision making

Planning school

Argues that when uncertainty in the business environment is increasing, the efforts on predicting changes in the environment should be increased.

Adaptive school

Opposes the planning school in a way they say that instead of planning the focus should be on business ability to change. The future is impossible to predicts and change should be the business driver instead of planning. This means the focus should be on recognizing important changes in the environment and adapt as quickly as possible.

Visionary approach

The visionary approach is closely related to the planning school. The big difference between the two is that the visionary approach acts from a belief that the company has influence on important variables in the environment.

Transformative approach

The transformative approach is closely related to the adaptive school. It suggests that firms should not focus their efforts into prediction, but in adapting with the environment. The transformative approach believes in a company influence on the environment, instead of being the adaptive approach wich sees the environment as external entity in which the company has no significant influence.


NN, Peter Bouwdewijn