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Strategic Styles

Strategies are developed in different ways in different organisations. Bailey and Johnson identified six strategy drivers that are used in combination when strategies are developed, producing distinctive strategic styles or profiles for different organisations.
  • Incremental - step by step development of strategy.
  • Visionary - influenced by the personal vision of a strong leader.
  • Planning - developing strategies from structured planning approaches.
  • Political - strategy developing from bargaining and negotiation between stakeholders.
  • Cultural - strategies arising from shared views and experience.
  • External - strategies imposed by changes in the external environment.

In the profile, the degree to which each of these factors is present is assessed relative to the others. Some drivers may be completely absent while others dominate, though at least three or four are usually present to some extent.

Analysis of the strategic style of an organisation helps us to understand the processes by which strategy is formed and hence increases our ability to influence it. Strategy styles tend to evolve in response to external and internal pressures, including institutional structures, stakeholder pressures and individual personalities. A major change in any of these can leave an organisation with an inappropriate strategic style that can become an important weakness.

Reference source: Bailey A. and Johnson G. (1995) "The processes of strategy development", in J. L.Thompson (ed.) "The CIMA Handbook of Strategic Management", Oxford, Butterworth Heinemann

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