Henry Mintzberg (1987) made a distinction between deliberate strategy and emergent strategy. Emergent strategy originates not in the mind of the strategist, but in the interaction of the organization with its environment. He claims that emergent strategies tend to exhibit a type of convergence in which ideas and actions from multiple sources integrate into a pattern. This is a form of organizational learning, (from its environment) in fact, on this view, organizational learning is one of the core functions of any business enterprise (See Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline (1990).)
Deliberate strategy on the other hand is involves intentional planning and predetermined outcomes based on internal and external analysis at a current point in time. Such analysis also involves the study of the historical trend of the organization and industry performance. A flawed assumption where the predetermined outcomes are derived from is that the future will behave as in the past and the macro environment will remain relatively stable. Such is not the case with the magnitude, velocity, frequency and abruptness of change reaching new unprecedented levels daily in the business landscape across the world.
The paradox of deliberateness and emergence is whereas deliberate strategies provide an organization with a sense of purposeful direction, emergent strategies imply that the organization is learning from its environment incrementally. This has led to dichotomies of strategies. However Mintzberg and Whittington says that this is not necessarily so, in fact Mintzberg advocates that firms in today’s highly turbulent business landscape need to be purposeful and resourceful simultaneously. In this sense he coined the term “deliberately emergent”. Whittington is in agreement as he classifies deliberate strategies under the classical school and emergent strategies under the evolutionary school both of which share the same outcome of profit... [continues]
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