1. Critically discuss strategy understood as a deliberate, rational, sequential planning process (1,750 Words).
2. Critically discuss strategy conceived of as an emergent process of learning and crafting (1,750 Words).
Assignment Structure and Content
Both short essays should begin with a clear and concise Introduction that sets up the topic under investigation, interprets the basic premise of the question, and outlines the aims and the structure of the assignment.
In effect, it works a bit like a journal abstract: from the Introduction the reader should have an overall understanding of what is contained in the assignment: the key arguments, themes covered, main conclusions, etc.
Main Body Question 1.
The first question requires you to critically discuss planned approaches to strategy. The key terms here are critically and discuss. In other words you should avoid merely describing specific planned approaches to strategy but rather explore the set of underlying assumptions and beliefs that support this approach (e.g. the belief in rational economic man, separation of formulation and implementation, rational decision-making, etc.). You could also usefully locate these ideas in time and space and as a reflection of a specific context of emergence and distinct business environment.
The question specifically asks draw on relevant theories to elaborate an argument and therefore you also need to identify examples from the literature that represent this view (e.g. strategic planning, positioning, portfolio approaches). However, you should avoid simply ‘describing’each of these approaches in detail. Instead, use them as examples of the practical application of the wider viewpoint.
There also needs to be a critical aspect to your discussion. By this we mean an evaluation of the merits and weaknesses of this approach. You might find Mintzberg’s critique (the fallacies of strategic planning) a useful way of drawing out the weaknesses of this approach.
The question also asks you to draw on ‘relevant examples’ from practice to help support and ‘illuminate’ the theoretical discussion. You could use lots of small examples to support each claim or viewpoint or 1 or 2 big examples that you apply across the assignment. The choice is up to you.
Main Body Question 2.
In a sense, this question constitutes the other side of the coin. The key challenge to the planned approach is the emergent approach, or at least variations of it that advocate a preference for strategy as an emergent, responsive, adaptive process. In this sense we could draw on the learning/emergent school, the work of Hamel and Prahalad and some of the ideas in the value innovation approach as relevant frameworks to structure this discussion. My advice would be to follow a similar structure to the one that you adopt in response to question 1. Markers tend to like this kind of coherent and repetitious structure.
Whilst there is no explicit requirement to do so, you may also wish to turn this question on its head by using the strengths of the planned approach as evidence of the limitations of the emergent perspective. This might then naturally lead you into a brief discussion of approaches that have sought to combine the best of planning with the best of the emergent perspective (e.g. scenario planning)
Both short essays should finish with a short, robust and persuasive conclusion. This is a very important.
References together and add them to the very end