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The Fundamental Dimensions of Strategy

In nearly half a century of literature on corporate strategy, the term has become more complicated and fractured. There are now at least 10 separate schools of thought regarding strategy, and more than a dozen common definitions of the term. To clarify and deepen our understanding of corporate strategy, the author suggests general guidelines that set the boundaries of the discipline and highlight its specifics in order to facilitate future executive decisions. The author argues that strategy comprises three objectives: creating value, handling imitation and shaping a perimeter. The ability to sustain value creation, whether from the customer's or the shareholder's perspective, is the ultimate goal of any strategy. Concepts such as benchmarking, differentiation, core competencies, unique resources, institutionalism and competitive rivalry are all connected with the ability to prevent, implement or leverage imitation. Decisions about diversification, outsourcing, vertical integration, internationalization and positioning are all linked with the search for a profitable perimeter.

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