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Strategic Management: A fresh approach to developing skills, knowledge and creativity.- A review


Title: Strategic Management: A fresh approach to developing skills, knowledge and creativity.
Authors: Paul Joyce & Adrian Woods 2001
Publisher: Kogan Page
ISBN: 0 7494 3583 6

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I was eager to review this book as I am currently studying Human Resource Strategies as part of my MA and thought that a fresh insight into general business strategy would be useful. Coming as it does from two professors of management and bearing the Association of MBAs logo the book certainly has the right credentials.

The first page indicates what we have in store, a complicated and rather poor description of Charles Handy’s four gods of management. A useful management concept that, without prior knowledge, would have had me completely flummoxed. The next page is what the authors refer to as a mind map (on their website, that bears little relation to the rest of the chapter, is not referred to and is completely unhelpful.

So far then, no evidence of the authors assertion ‘We would say we have a pragmatic approach to pragmatism!’ The first chapter then dives into a debate on etymology to conclude that managers 50 years ago didn’t use current strategic vocabulary!

The book relies heavily on extracted readings from ‘seminal strategic management texts’. These are printed in a slightly smaller type size and, if you are like me, this will be an invitation to skip these parts. This would be a pity as the best part of this book is the extracted texts. The extracts are not fully referenced however, making their use for academic study rather limited.

As the topics become more topical, e-business for example, the author’s lack of current knowledge in this field is openly exposed. Chapter 17 entitled E-business contains nine pages from the authors (and one page for the mind map) and thirty-nine as extracts from other authors. This heavy reliance on quoted material led the cynic in me to wonder whether the authors had to publish a book as members of academia and this offering represents the easiest and quickest way to meet any obligations or requirements.

I was bitterly disappointed with this book, save your time and your money and read a book on strategic management by an acknowledged expert or guru in the field. Take a leaf out of their book ‘Pragmatically we believe that you have to judge whether or not it works for the type of situations you will find yourself in.’ I’m sorry to say I can’t imagine any situation where this book would work.

Matthew Simkin
Senior Training Adviser
National Museum of Science and Industry

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