Essays on Strategy by Design vs Emergent Strategy Research Paper

The paper "Strategy by Design vs Emergent Strategy" is a wonderful example of a business research paper.
Strategy in business management includes a variety of organizational practices. In general sense, it is the process that defines the organizational vision and lays out plans in the long term to achieve the intended goals. Strategy not only determines the organizational mission and objectives but also covers other areas such as marketing, finance, and all human resource (HR) concerns.

Difference between strategy and operation
The terms ‘strategy’ and ‘operation’ refer to entirely different processes. The strategy is the scientific way of crafting organizational objectives, goals, vision, and method of implementation; whereas, the operation is the ongoing process of business activities. The operation does not involve in designing business strategy. Strategy implementation is the more significant factor that determines the success of an organization. An outstanding strategy does not necessarily mean that the organizational functions would be fine. Regardless of its quality, the effective method of implementation is a significant part of business operation. The major differences between these two can be listed as follows;

  • defines the required facilities such as size and location
  • determines the capacity requirements of the organization
  • determines the range of technology
  • defines the potentiality of workforce and wage policies
  • defines organizational structure, reward system, and role of staff
  • determines product/service quality through monitoring and intervention
Operation means:
  • activities associated with production, distribution, and delivery of products/services
  • effective use of resources, HR, equipments, and other facilities
  • all organizational activities that convert inputs into products and services

The success of business lies in realizing and integrating the various elements of organization. ‘Managers must comprehend their potential combinations and coordinate and integrate business factors so that goals are achieved effectively’ (Wiley & Sons, 1971, p.5)

Design strategy Vs. Emergent strategy

The strategy is often understood as the ‘decision related to the design of a process and the infrastructure needed to support the process’. (Chase, Jacobs & Aquilano, 2006 p.24). However, as it was argued by Henry Mintzberg in 1987, strategy not only includes predetermined actions but also the gradual strategic developments or immediate steps taken to deal with a changing situation. The prearranged strategy is often known as design strategy. Design strategy has top down features because it is developed by the responsible individuals or group at the top level; and is subsequently implemented within the organization. As Grant (2005, p.24) states, emergent strategy is the decision taken by individual managers according to the changing environment. Every organization would face such unexpected difficulties when emergent strategies become inevitable. ‘As markets become more complex emergent strategies become common.’ (Mercer, 1996, p.527). The emergent strategy develops as the manager tries to mould his organization according to his vision. It includes an array of actions that is developed from bottom to top over a significant period. However, in the long run, design strategies versus emergent strategies in business operations.

  • Design strategy is more reliable as it is the result of negotiation, bargaining and compromise between many individuals and groups within the organization. (Grant, 2005, p.24).
  • Design strategy considers the overall betterment of the firm; whereas emergent strategy can ‘deal with only an evolving situation which the planners could not foresee’. (Cooper).
  • Emergent strategy presumably fails as it can be influenced by individual perspectives.
  • Design strategy would help organization reduce the cost of operation; whereas emergent strategy would increase it.
  • Emergent strategy will cause ‘resistance and instability’ in the organization (Norton, 2007, p.26-27).
  • Design strategy has a sense of focus; whereas emergent strategy is an experiment to find out appropriate practices.

Irrespective of the mode of strategy, the success of the organization is highly dependent on the method of its operation. However, design strategy is highly important for the smooth functioning of modern organizations. At the same time, entrepreneurs can not ignore the importance of emergent strategy. In short, strategic management is the integration of both methods


Chase R B, Jacobs F R., & Aquilano N J., 2006, Operations Management for Competitive Advantage, 11th edn. Tata McGraw-Hill.

Cooper C L., Emergent Strategy, Blackwell Encyclopedia of Management, online, retrieved 26 Dec. 2009 from

Grant R M., 2005, Contemporary Strategy Analysis, 5th edn., Wiley-Blackwell.

Mercer D., 1996, Marketing, edn 2, revised, Wiley-Blackwell.

Norton A., 2007, CIMA Official Learning System Integrated Management, edn 4, Elsevier.

Shim J K., & Siegel J G., 1999, Operations Management, Barrons Educational Series.

Wiley & Sons, 1971, Marketing Management: A System Perspective. John Wiley &Sons,