Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

A Formal Theory of Strategy

Contents:

Author Info

  • Eric Van den Steen

    ()
    (Harvard Business School, Strategy Unit)

Abstract

What makes a decision strategic? When is strategy most important? This paper studies the structure and value of strategy (in its everyday sense), starting from a (functional) definition of strategy as 'the smallest set of (core) choices to optimally guide the other choices.' This definition captures the idea of strategy as the core of a - potentially flexible and adaptive - intended course of action. It coincides with the equilibrium outcome of a 'strategy formulation game' where a person can - at a cost - look ahead, investigate, and announce a small set of choices to the rest of the organization. Starting from that definition, the paper studies what makes a decision 'strategic' and what makes strategy important, considering commitment, irreversibility, and persistence of a choice; the presence of uncertainty (and the type of uncertainty); the number and strength of interactions and the centrality of a choice; its level and importance; the need for specific capabilities; and competition and dynamics. It shows, for example, that irreversibility does not make a decision more strategic but makes strategy more valuable, that long-range strategies will be more concise, why a choice what not to do can be very strategic, and that a strategy 'bet' can be valuable. It shows how strategy creates endogenously a hierarchy among decisions. And it also shows how understanding the structure of strategy may enable a strategist to develop the optimal strategy in a very parsimonious way.

Download Info

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
File URL: http://www.hbs.edu/faculty/pages/download.aspx?name=14-058.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Harvard Business School in its series Harvard Business School Working Papers with number 14-058.

as in new window
Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:14-058

Contact details of provider:
Postal: Soldiers Field, Boston, Massachusetts 02163
Phone: 617.495.6000
Web page: http://www.hbs.edu/
More information through EDIRC

Related research

Keywords:

Find related papers by JEL classification:

This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

References

No references listed on IDEAS
You can help add them by filling out this form.

Citations

Lists

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

Statistics

Access and download statistics

Corrections

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hbs:wpaper:14-058. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Soebagio Notosoehardjo).

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.