Question
Asked 24th Mar, 2014
  • Formerly Professor of HRM Management Development Institute

What is the difference between intended strategy and deliberate strategy?

Mintzberg et al. talk about intended strategy and deliberate strategy in their model of business strategy; the difference between the two terms is not quite clear. I was wondering how the former gets converted into the latter when the former is not realized.

Most recent answer

17th Sep, 2020
Nandhina Rupee
University of Bedfordshire
I agree with Jorge Morales. 100%

Popular answers (1)

24th Mar, 2014
Jorge Morales Pedraza
Morales Project Consulting
According to Mintzberg and Waters, there are five kinds of strategies. These are: emergent strategy, intended strategy, deliberate strategy, realized strategy and unrealized strategy. The definition of some of these different types of strategies is the following: Emergent strategies can be seen as responses to unexpected opportunities and problems and are usually developed from the locations at which business-level strategies are usually implemented, i.e. within business units and not at corporate headquarters. The pure definition of emergence requires the absence of intentions. (Mcgee, Thomas & Wilson 2005 p 11)
Realized strategy is a blend of intentions and emergence, which can be interpreted by reference to the strength of pressure from the external environment—a kind of environmental determinism. (Mcgee, Thomas & Wilson 2005 p 11)
Intended strategy is strategy as conceived of by the top management team. Even here, rationality is limited and the intended strategy is the result of a process of negotiation, bargaining, and compromise, involving many individuals and groups within the Organization.
Mintzberg and Waters mentioned that realized strategy – the actual strategy that is implemented – is only partly related to that which was intended (Mintzberg suggests only 10–30 % of intended strategy is realized).
Deliberate and emergent strategies together identify intention of action in a corporation. Any business may fall under either deliberate or emergent strategy in the basis of daily operations. However, these strategies more likely occur in large business operations. Both strategies address a focus on the content of strategy. Such content includes initiatives, choices and policies or decision-making. Deliberate strategies mark acts or visions that emphasize intention. Deliberate strategy in corporations marks a concrete attention to detail concerning business operations. Deliberate strategy outlines exact business intention. These intentions concern the nature of the goals of the organization outside of matters of profit. Deliberate strategy attempts to minimize outside influence acting on business operations. In general, all employees of the company must learn perfect familiarity with future business goals and operations. The business then expects employees to work together in all aspects of accomplishment of these goals. Employees must think through and discuss all actions in the interest of matching company goals. Some refer to emergent strategy as a realized strategy. In the opposite effect, emergent strategy marks a pattern of action that develops over time. An emergent strategy develops within an organization in the absence of a specific mission and goals. Some business chooses an emergent strategy in daily operations to remain flexible to current demands. Most business theorists view emergent strategy as more flexible and upcoming than deliberate strategy. In general, they view emergent strategy as a method of learning while in operation. Dated or unproductive methods fall out of use while new methods of operation gain favor within the corporation. Emergent strategy grows to more predictable patterns of behavior over time. Businesses over time discover profitable methods of operation. Business owners then adopt such profitable operations techniques into a predictable goal somewhat resembling a deliberate strategy.
7 Recommendations

All Answers (8)

24th Mar, 2014
Markus Reihlen
Leuphana University of Lüneburg
Hi Debi:
my answer to this question is the following: Mintzberg describes the planning approach to strategy. Planned strategies start with intentions, mostly from the chief strategists of the firm. In this regard intentions define the purpose in performing strategic actions. Planning, however, also involves deliberation, which would mean analyzing the purpose for action and evaluating systematically different courses of action. In this sense, intention and deliberation is not the same. To put it simple: intention is purpose, deliberation stands for conscious analysis.
I hope this helps.
Best
Markus
2 Recommendations
24th Mar, 2014
Debi S. Saini
Formerly Professor of HRM Management Development Institute
Thanks Markus; I think what you are saying is absolutely right. So, both intended and deliberate strategy fall in the category of planned strategy. It is at that stage that new realities emerge from below, which get combined with the company's deliberations about non-realization of the strategy. And, at this stage the company realizes that the strategy that is actually being followed is emerging as a consequence of the people looking at alternative ways.
Markus, I am not a strategy specialist. My subject is strategic HRM though. I have been looking for some good actual or imaginary examples of emergent strategy. can you help in the matter?
4 Recommendations
24th Mar, 2014
Markus Reihlen
Leuphana University of Lüneburg
Hi Debi:
You seem to hit a classical problem in the strategy literature, but also as you realize in strategy practice. The issue seems that the espoused or intended strategy is different to the strategy in action (Mintzberg would call realized strategy, which may rather be driven by emerging than deliberate strategies). A classic example of emerging strategies that shows how top-down plans are contradicted by emerging patterns of action is the Honda case. Pascale (1984) analyzed the early market entry of Honda into the US market. His message, what he called the Honda Effect, was that Western managers and academics alike “express a preference for oversimplifications of reality and cognitively linear explanations of events... [there is] a tendency to overlook the process through which organizations experiment, adapt, and learn... How an organization deals with miscalculation, mistakes, and serendipitous events outside its field of vision is often crucial to success over time. [1984: 57]”. The key is that strategy may be better understood as a learning process.
On the Honda case see for instance:
More on this in:
Mintzberg, H., Ahlstrand, B. W., & Lampel, J. 2009. Strategy safari : the complete guide through the wilds of strategic management (2nd ed.). Harlow: Financial Times Prentice Hall.
A more theoretical discussion could also be found in Burgelman’s evolutionary strategy model, in which he distinguishes between autonomous (more emerging) and induced strategic (more deliberate) adaptation. These patterns are illustrated with the Intel case.
See for instance:
Burgelman, R. A. 1983. A model of the interaction of strategic behavior, corporate context, and the concept of strategy. Academy of Management Review, 8(1): 61-70.
Burgelman, R. A. 1983. A process model of internal corporate venturing in the diversified major firm. Administrative Science Quarterly, 28(2): 223-244.
Another twist to this issue is to use Argyris and Schön’s organizational learning model. Concepts of espoused theories vs. theories of action, defensive routines etc. are potentially helpful in explaining why organizations are not doing what they were told to do.
See:
Argyris, C., & Schön, D. A. 1978. Organizational learning: a theory of action perspective. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley Pub. Co.
Argyris, C. 1990. Overcoming organizational defenses: Facilitating organizational learning. Wellesley, MA: Allyn and Bacon.
I hope this helps you on your journey.
Best
Markus
1 Recommendation
24th Mar, 2014
Jorge Morales Pedraza
Morales Project Consulting
According to Mintzberg and Waters, there are five kinds of strategies. These are: emergent strategy, intended strategy, deliberate strategy, realized strategy and unrealized strategy. The definition of some of these different types of strategies is the following: Emergent strategies can be seen as responses to unexpected opportunities and problems and are usually developed from the locations at which business-level strategies are usually implemented, i.e. within business units and not at corporate headquarters. The pure definition of emergence requires the absence of intentions. (Mcgee, Thomas & Wilson 2005 p 11)
Realized strategy is a blend of intentions and emergence, which can be interpreted by reference to the strength of pressure from the external environment—a kind of environmental determinism. (Mcgee, Thomas & Wilson 2005 p 11)
Intended strategy is strategy as conceived of by the top management team. Even here, rationality is limited and the intended strategy is the result of a process of negotiation, bargaining, and compromise, involving many individuals and groups within the Organization.
Mintzberg and Waters mentioned that realized strategy – the actual strategy that is implemented – is only partly related to that which was intended (Mintzberg suggests only 10–30 % of intended strategy is realized).
Deliberate and emergent strategies together identify intention of action in a corporation. Any business may fall under either deliberate or emergent strategy in the basis of daily operations. However, these strategies more likely occur in large business operations. Both strategies address a focus on the content of strategy. Such content includes initiatives, choices and policies or decision-making. Deliberate strategies mark acts or visions that emphasize intention. Deliberate strategy in corporations marks a concrete attention to detail concerning business operations. Deliberate strategy outlines exact business intention. These intentions concern the nature of the goals of the organization outside of matters of profit. Deliberate strategy attempts to minimize outside influence acting on business operations. In general, all employees of the company must learn perfect familiarity with future business goals and operations. The business then expects employees to work together in all aspects of accomplishment of these goals. Employees must think through and discuss all actions in the interest of matching company goals. Some refer to emergent strategy as a realized strategy. In the opposite effect, emergent strategy marks a pattern of action that develops over time. An emergent strategy develops within an organization in the absence of a specific mission and goals. Some business chooses an emergent strategy in daily operations to remain flexible to current demands. Most business theorists view emergent strategy as more flexible and upcoming than deliberate strategy. In general, they view emergent strategy as a method of learning while in operation. Dated or unproductive methods fall out of use while new methods of operation gain favor within the corporation. Emergent strategy grows to more predictable patterns of behavior over time. Businesses over time discover profitable methods of operation. Business owners then adopt such profitable operations techniques into a predictable goal somewhat resembling a deliberate strategy.
7 Recommendations
31st Mar, 2014
Hatem Maraqah
Hebron University
I really agree with Jorge Morales completely
14th Jun, 2014
Donald Ibama Hamilton
Rivers State University
Intended strategy becomes deliberate strategy when intended strategy becomes realized strategy. They both belong to the DESCRIPTIVE SCHOOL OF STRATEGY
18th Aug, 2016
Gustavo Concari
Universidad Católica del Uruguay Dámaso Antonio Larrañaga
Dear Debi:
                 An italian proverb says "del dire al fare, nil mezzo il mare", meaning that there is a great difference between saying and doing. Put planning in stead of saying and you have an important answer in strategic planning. Companies realize that what they pretended to do changes when the plan faces reality.
                  The best way of seeing that is the one given by Quinn (J.B.), he talks about "Logical Incrementalism". He says that managers have a general plan (what they pretend to do) and while following it they make litlle changes (twists) in order to better meet the reality. He named this "logical incrementalism".
                  To me it is the best way of understanding the difference between a plan a what a company finally really does.
Hope it helps.
Gustavo Concari
1 Recommendation
17th Sep, 2020
Nandhina Rupee
University of Bedfordshire
I agree with Jorge Morales. 100%

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