Proceedings of the 51st Annual Meeting of the ISSS - 2007, Tokyo, Japan, Papers: 51st Annual Meeting

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A SYSTEMS APPROACH TO STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT

Amanda Gregory

Abstract


Strategic management involves decision-making about an organization's objectives together with the formulation and implementation of plans, particularly regarding the allocation of resources, to support their achievement. As such, strategic management is a dynamic and complex process involving consideration of internal and external factors, and the short and long term.

The effectiveness of an organization’s strategic management can critically impact upon its viability and there are many reasons why the stategic management process may fail. Such reasons include failure to:
ß think creatively about the likely affects of plans
ß obtain external/internal participation and commitment
ß co-ordinate and control resources.

In this paper it is argued that many of the reasons for failure may be attributed to the successive dominance of different reductionist approaches to strategic management. From a systems perspective it may be argued that such approaches represent partial approaches to strategic management that neglect the complex, embedded and dynamic nature of modern organizations. Accordingly, the reasons why strategic plans fail are taken to provide a framework for the evaluation of the potential contribution of a range of systems methodologies to the strategic management process. The systems methodologies considered in this paper include: Viable System Methodology, Strategic Assumption Surfacing and Testing, Soft Systems Methodology, and Critical Systems Heuristics. In light of this, a systems approach to strategic management is proposed that sees value not only in using the approaches in isolation but also in using them in a complementary and flexible way.

In summary, the argument is articulated in this paper that there are two main contributions that the systems discipline might make to strategic management:
- To impart guidance on which strategic planning approaches to use when and also on how to view them as a complementary set that is capable of being used in a flexible way to address all aspects of the strategic managerial task.
- To provide a range of methodologies that can be put in service of the strategic planning process.

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