Questioning the epistemic virtue of strategy: the emperor has no clothes!

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French, SNJ, Kouzmin, A & Kelly, SJ 2011, 'Questioning the epistemic virtue of strategy: the emperor has no clothes!', Journal of Management and Organization, vol. 17, no. 4, pp. 434-47.

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A critical analysis of contemporary strategic management theory and practice suggests that modernist, linear thinking has facilitated the development of an abstracted reality which is misleading to managers and fundamentally flawed. It is argued that formulaic strategic tools such as those propounded by Porter fail to capture the reality of the complex environments that confront firms and falsely suggest that an answer can be derived from a predetermined toolbox. As an alternative to this dominant paradigm, the complexity of markets is presented not as something to be feared and ignored, but rather as a truth to be embraced. As a basis of taking this step, current knowledge on how complex environments work, perspectives on how they can be better understood and how people and organizations can engage within them, is presented. Ultimately it is recognised that both theoretical and practical foundations need significant, further development.

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