Strategic Management and Michael Porter: a Postmodern Reading

7507 WordsNov 26, 201231 Pages
Strategic Management and Michael Porter: a postmodern reading by: Toby Harfield It is an important and popular fact that things are not always what they seem. Hitchhikers’s Guide to the Galaxy Douglas Adams Introduction This article is located within a postmodern sensibility of exploration and play (Bauman 1992; Rorty 1989). I do not attempt to deconstruct (Linstead 1995; Cooper 1989; Derrida 1978), but merely to explore the possiblilty of a radical new reading of Michael E Porter. Is Porter postmodern? The project originated in my need to ‘make sense’ of the strategic management literature, and specifically the place of Michael E Porter within it. The question, what is strategic management?, often leads to the work of Porter.…show more content…
There appears to be some oblique distinction between academic and practical literatures in this review. Apparently the foundations for the non-specialist are located in ‘corporate and competitive strategy’ related to decision making as identified by Hofer & Schendel (1978), organization economics (Porter 1981) and marketing (Biggadike 1981). Porter’s (1980, 1985) work is mentioned, but the reviewers’ ‘tone’ seems to question the value of his contributions. Remarks such as ‘nonspecialist’ and ‘it has become popular to proclaim’ are used. The lack of inclusion of Porter in the discussions concerning ‘generic strategies’ or ‘industry structures’ also appears to relegate him to the margins of the research prior to 1985. Huff & Reger (1987) review the ‘strategic process research’, which they define as prescriptive and descriptive work on planning methods and decision making. They attempt to locate the 193 papers reviewed in a nine cell schema based on the research agenda of the author. For the uninitiated, the differences between the ‘content stream’ and the ‘process stream’ are very difficult to perceive. No paper by Porter is cited, however, it would be convenient to place him in the ‘decision aids’ category based on his suggested generic strategies and five-forces framework for analysing competition (Porter 1980). Mintzberg (1990) has been working on the truly monumental task of creating an

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