Critical Approaches to Strategic Management Essay

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Chapter 5 Critical Approaches to Strategic Management David L. Levy, Mats Alvesson and Hugh Willmott It is only comparatively recently that 'strategic management' has been labelled, studied, and privileged as a field of managerial practice and scholarly attention (Knights and Morgan, 1991). Many business schools have crowned their programmes with a 'capstone' course in strategic management, which is intended to provide a 'top-management perspective', in addition to fostering a familiarity with the key concepts in the field. As perhaps the most managerialist of the management specialties, 'strategy' largely takes for granted the historical and political conditions under which managerial priorities are determined and enacted. Moreover, as a technocratic mode of decision making serving particular interests, strategy is not simply confined to the business world; rather, 'strategy' can be seen in the everwidening circle of problems which are deemed suitable for its application - from public sector and non-profit management to regional economic development and business school accreditation. This chapter contributes to the development of a critical understanding of strategic management that is less coloured by the preoccupations and sectional interests of top managers. Where a managerialist perspective employs an instrumental rationality to help managers improve organizational effectiveness and corporate profitability, a critical lens seeks to explore the nature of strategic management as an organizational process, one which has significant political ramifications within organizations and in the broader society. Strategy can, for example, be examined as discourse and practice in order to probe its historical roots and how it came to be constituted in its current form (Knights and Morgan, 1991). Some of the work in the processual school of strategy
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