It is very important to understand upfront the difference between the terms strategy and strategic management.
Coulter defines a strategy as “a series of goal directed decisions and actions that match an organization’s skills and resources with environmental opportunities and threats” (Coulter, 23). It further defines strategic management as “those decisions and actions in which organizational members analyze the current situation; develop appropriate strategies; put those strategies into action; and, evaluate, modify, or change those strategies as needed” (Coulter, 23).
Consider these two definitions and the differences between them very carefully. Strategic Management is a business function, analogous to other business functions such as accounting, marketing, advertising, etc. It involves the development and management of strategies.
The strategies themselves that are being managed can be directed at almost anything of concern to the business or organization. Strategies can exist that are directed at any organizational level. High level strategies can and often do give rise to lower level strategies which in turn can give rise to even lower level strategies, etc. Like wise the function of strategic management can exist at any organizational level.
The reason for this paper is that this class is concerned with the study of strategic management as a business function, i.e. how are strategies developed, implemented, measured, etc. You will find as we proceed through the business analogy that there are even strategies (for example, SWOT analysis) for strategic management, which means that there are strategies for developing, implementing, and measuring the effect of strategies. When you fully understand that strategic management is a business function this should not surprise you.
One of the problems, I typically see is managers confusing the management of strategies with the strategies that are being managed. In this class, since we are discussing the business function of strategic management, when discussing a particular strategy let’s say an example of a marketing strategy, you should also keep in mind the strategic management dimension of that strategy, that is, how was it developed, how was it implemented, how is its effectiveness measured, and how will it be changed if that is necessary. Similarly if, for example, you are comparing the advertising strategies of two companies in a particular industry, you should also consider what effect the comparison of those strategies should or could have on the strategic management function in each of the companies involved.
Let me try and clarify what I am trying to say by using an analogy. Suppose we were having a class on how to manage a used car lot. We might easily find ourselves discussing the differences between Ford cars and Dodge cars. But since we are having a class on managing the used car lot we should probably be the most interested in those differences that actually impacted how we would manage a used car lot.
Coulter, Mary. Strategic Management in Action. 2nd ed-custom ed. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall. 2002.