Developments In Business Simulation & Experiential Exercises, Volume 23, 1996 An Analysis of Deliberate and Emergent Strategies Relative to Porter’s Generic Differentiator and Cost Leader:
A Bias and Variance Modeling Approach
Joseph N. Roger, Northeastern State University
relative to Porter’s generic differentiator and cost leader within the confines of a controlled business simulation
through the use of Bowman’s managerial coefficient. The
intent is not to produce conflict; instead, it is to seek the truth.
This study is a response to a scholarly debate that took place in the Strategic Management Journal between Henry
Mintzberg (1990, 1991) and Igor Ansoff (1991) concerning
their theories of emergent versus deliberate strategies. Prior to the debate, Mintzberg and Waters (1985) indicated an
interest in knowing whether “... cost leadership strategies might prove more deliberate (specifically, more often
planned) ..“ or “... differentiation strategies more emergent.” Therefore this study considers how deliberate and emergent
strategies relate to Porter’s (1985) generic differentiator and cost leader.
The Design School.
The design school and its derivative, the planning school, are represented here by Andrews and Ansoff respectively.
Mintzberg’s bone of contention seems to lie at the heart of these two schools. Specifically related to the current debate, these schools promote strategy formulation based on
planning and analysis prior to implementation (Mintzberg,
1990). However, the design school does recognize that some
revisions to the original strategy may be required due to and guided by operational feedback (Andrews, 1987).
Chronological Overview of the Debate
Henry Mintzberg (1990) began the debate with a discussion
and critique of the ‘design school’ generally associated with the Business Policy group at the Harvard Business School.
Igor Ansoff (1991) countered with a defense of the ‘design school’ and a discussion and critique of Mintzberg’s
‘emerging strategy’ school.
The Learning School.
The learning school is represented here by Mintzberg. He
contends that the schools discussed above incorrectly
promote strategy formulation as a matter of conception.
Instead, Mintzberg sees strategy formulation as an emergent
process of trial and error that takes place during
implementation (Mintzberg, 1990).
The next communication, from Mintzberg (1991), responds
to Ansoff by categorizing his work as being from the
‘planning school’ and suggesting that it was built upon the basic premises of the design school (Andrews, 1987).
Although he does permit that both emergent learning and
deliberate planning have a place in strategic management, all the while, he staunchly defends his initial position.
He does allow that “... we shall get nowhere without
emergent learning alongside deliberate planning”. Here he
compares learning and planning to “two feet walking”, one following the other, along the path to an emerging strategy
(Mintzberg, 1991). In essence he seems to be saying that
strategy is definitely emergent but that planning and analysis do play a part in its formation.
Finally Michael Goold (1992), elaborates upon (and defends
his and BCG’s role in) Mintzberg’s (1991) account of
Honda’s development of a successful motorcycle strategy.
He acknowledges differences between the planning and
learning approach but counsels that synthesis and
collaboration, rather than conflict, are most appropriate for the continued development of the discipline.
Today’s business simulation is a theoretical model of an
industry represented by a program run on a microcomputer.
The mathematical formulas that represent the relationships
between the decision variables available to the various
competitors and the outcome of the interaction of those
variables due to participant decision is an integral part of the intended...
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