Strategic Management - Article Reviews (4)

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Review Set 1 – Review and Critique of the Following Articles:

“How to Thrive in Turbulent Markets” by Donald Sull (2009)

“Are Managers Obsolete?” by Thomas M. Hout (1999)

“What is Strategy?” by Michael E. Porter (2000)

“Knowledge-Worker Productivity: The Biggest Challenge” by Peter F. Drucker (1999)

Strategic Management

Professor Smith

Eugene Bogart

01/26/2012

Article review and critique: “How to Thrive in Turbulent Markets” by Donald Sull (2009)

Synopsis:

In the article “How to Thrive in Turbulent Markets” by Donald Sull (2009), the author discusses the similarities between the duties required by management and the matchups between boxers. Managers and the complex market in which they do business are compared to the uncertainty of a boxing match. A few examples touched upon by the article include the dot-com bubble burst, the terrorist attacks, and concern about global warming. All of these issues came as a surprise to our economy, just as a left hook from Muhammad Ali might surprise an opponent. The article also states that a company must have operational agility, much like their example of a Brazilian brewing company, who kept costs low in anticipation of market competition. The article continued by saying a company must be like a boxer and be able to take a punch – that is – to be able to withstand a loss or setback and still have the character to prevail. The report also gives details about how to have both economical agility and absorption as a company.

Likes:

I enjoyed this article because the ways the author uses to compare boxing and management seem very understandable. For a company to ‘float like a butterfly, sting like a bee’, the article tells us that “a company’s ability to consistently identify and capture business opportunities more quickly than its rivals do” (pg. 80). The article also makes this connection towards corporate absorptions. In order for a company to ‘take a licking and keep on ticking’ they must rely on diversification and size, and an ample amount cash in order to keep the company prosperous until their big break.

Another thing to like about this article is the way the author, Donald Sull, gave distinctive ways in which an organization could become agile and able to absorb economic blows. Companies can become agile through 3 different techniques. Operational, portfolio, and strategic methods are discussed, including what a company must have, and what the leaders need to do, in order to be agile in an ever changing economy. There are also 10 ways in which a company could build their absorption. Some notable ones include low fixed costs, tangible resources, and the vast size of a corporation. These techniques, from agility and absorption, are good ways to have a broadened view of what is required to run a successful business operation.

I also like the way this article concluded. The author makes not of Muhammad Ali and his effectiveness over his entire career. His career started with high agility, and as he progressed, he learned to manage punches upon him by building up his absorption. However, by the end of his career, his agility had diminished and he was able to do little but absorb the hits that were dealt upon him. The same can be true with corporations. A company must balance their agility and absorption over time as to not become bloated and too set in their ways.

Dislike:

Although this article was well thought out, I believe the author spent too much time discussing material that, to most people who are interested in the content, would be considered common knowledge. The topic of being agile and assessing every situation in order to make the most profitable decision, and to react to potential positive situations as quickly as possible is a no-brainer when it comes to business judgments. Also absorption is not a new theory. Although it may be named something new, the resistance of a company to fall under hard times is known to...
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