Importance of Top Management in Strategic Management

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Introduction

In Strategic management: An integrated approach (9th Ed.) Hills and Jones make the following statement

“Many writers have emphasized that strategy is the outcome of a formal strategic planning process and that top management plays the most important role in the process. Although this view has some basis in reality, it is not the whole story” (p.11)

In this essay the author will be showing that top management does indeed play an important and vital role in the strategic planning process but that many other factors such as middle management and unplanned or emergent strategies also play a large and very important role in the process.

In making the argument the author will be using the terms senior or top management
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A company can overcome inefficiencies in its internal resource usage if it has a brilliant strategic plan, but with invalid or poor strategies the company is likely to fail even if resources are utilised effectively and efficiently (Steiner, 1979). When he was CEO of Sears Roebuck and Company General Robert E. Wood (1962, as cited in Steiner, 1979) stated “Business is like war in one respect, if its grand strategy is correct, any number of tactical errors can be made and yet the enterprise proves successful”(p.5). If top management fails to implement strategic planning, apart from having no clear direction, an unplanned and intended emergent strategy will be the dominant realised strategy.

Senior management needs to provide a framework for strategic planning with a Mission Statement that accurately describes what the company does in a customer –orientated fashion, a vision of what the company hopes to achieve, a set of values that state how managers and employees should conduct themselves and establishing major goals that the company intends to achieve (Hill & Jones, 2010). Strategic planners can then develop a strategic plan using tools such as a SWOT analysis. In doing this the strategic planners are forecasting the most likely outcome of decisions and the state of the external environment so that they can develop a strategy based on this forecast. These plans should be formal and specific but they must
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