University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Strategy. The modern world-system
A strategy is a carefully developed method or plan for the purpose of achieving a particular objective over a period of time. Therefore, in simple terms, a strategy is a plan. Strategies are always made prior to the action for which they are intended. In addition, they are developed in a conscious manner and with a definite purpose in mind. A strategy is meant for implementation in most cases. However, sometimes, a strategy may be intended to be a ploy. A strategy that is intended for implementationrequires proper evaluation with regard to the anticipated benefits. On the other hand, a ploy is a strategy that is only meant to scare the opponent away. Strategy is the only way out in the face of a struggle or a conflict between individuals or groups. The reason of developing a strategy is to make the strategizing group gain an advantage over the opponent and therefore emerge as the winner from the struggle. Knowledge of strategy is thus important. It helps us know how to get out of a struggle victoriously. This essay seeks to highlight the role of strategy in our existence.
There are two forms of strategy. First, there is a strategy that is developed deliberately. Secondly, there is a strategy that emerges on its own from the environment. Let us look at the deliberate strategy first. This is developing a strategy with a clear aim in mind. This is where an individual or a group sits down and deliberates on the core issues that are of concern. Decisions are made carefully and all those involved agree on the common plan of action. The plan is rationally analyzed and its benefits weighed against the background of the intended action. Arrangements are made to enhance realization of the plan. The time frame is set. Necessary resources are put in place on time. All those who will be involved in the implementation of the plan are informed in advance. This kind of a strategy is suitable for instance when a business enterprise is intending to expand its territory and spread in other regions. In this instance, the management is responsible for the when that expansion should happen, how it should happen, and who will be involved. The time to develop such a strategy is usually long enough to measure any risks involved. On the other hand, an emergent strategy is a strategy that did not have prior intentions. It is characterized by a pattern of actions that were not established as a plan but seems to work out as a set out plan. The actions are performed as a normal routine. There are no defined aspects like those in the deliberate strategy development such as setting aside resources for that purpose or when they will be realized.
There are many reasons that may force an organization to develop new strategies. The most important one is competition from the organizations that are doing operations in the same way. An organization, for instance an industrial enterprise, will look into ways to defeat its competitors. Another reason that may prompt a change in plan is increased demand for the products or services provided by the organization. The organization will strive to make sure that it increases its productivity to meet the consumer needs fully. In addition, a need to create more branches of the organization may necessitate developing a strategy that is suitable. This will ensure that the managers of the organization become aware of the possible benefits and losses to anticipate should they embark on such expansion of the organization. Furthermore, an organization will be forced to go back to the drawing board to make new plans in the event of technological changes. This is because failure to plan and implement any necessary changes may impact the operations of the organization negatively. In the case of a business enterprise, the emergence of a new product in the market would certainly trigger development of a new strategy. This would entail how to acquire the new product in its stock and how to market it. Even employees in an organization have to make new plans on how to cope in the organization in case there are changes in the organization that affect them. In a nutshell, the concept of strategy is indispensable as long as the environment of the organization is dynamic.
In history, there many instances where developing a strategy was the only option for organizations to cope with the changing environment. A classic example of a struggle is one that happened in 1968 in Detroit as illustrated by Georgakas &Surkin (1998). The struggle was between the blacks and the whites. Many blacks had been employed in the auto industries including Chrysler Corporation. As workers, the blacks were exploited extensively. They were assigned the hardest works. In addition, they were overworked so much. They were made to work overtime through into the night and even on Saturdays. Sometimes, they were even made to work on Sundays. These workers did not have a proper channel to air out their complaints. They could not even tell the supervisors. The only thing they did was to write letters to the management and waited to see whether their complaints would be addressed. They rarely were. Many organizations were set up to look into the welfare of the workers. An example is United Automobile Workers (UAW). Unfortunately, the majority of the officials in the organizations were whites. Therefore, they did nothing to alleviate the plight of the blacks. DRUM is an organization that came up with an aim to end racial discrimination against the blacks. The DRUM officials called for meetings that were attended by black workers in huge numbers. A strike was called for by the DRUM officials. Then, DRUM members presented their demands to the UAW officials. Later, they continued with the strike and went to present their demands to the Chrysler Corporation. Their strategy bore fruit because the UAW listened to their demands decided to help them. The success of the organization was that it made workers in the auto industries know their rights and fight for them without fear of intimidation. Revolutionary groups were created even by students in Universities, both the whites and the blacks.
Another illustration of how strategy can help a group of people achieve their goals is how modern colonialism in the management is advanced. Had the colonialist not used tactics to colonize other nations, they would have faced resistance at the outset. Schwartz (2000) gives an account of the strategy that has been used by management to colonize the minds of the employees. The first thing that the colonists did was to establish an indirect rule. They targeted chiefs because they knew that the chiefs were part of the administrativemachinery. However, they realized that the chiefs had no control over the armed forces, taxation, and allocation of land or even appointing of new chiefs. However, they developed a strategy to employ the existing institutions of the country they wanted to colonize. They molded these institutions by means of creating laws and imposing taxes under the guidance of local administrative officers. They did this under the pretext of development. This was nevertheless a way of imposing an indirect rule. In the same way managers influence the minds of the employees in order for them to work harder. They are tricked to think that they are in control by changing words. For example, when employees are told to own the company, it is meant to refer to psychological ownership. Therefore, if the word “ownership” is used in this short form, it makes employees feel responsible for everything that happens in the company as if they were the real owners of the company. This is a good strategy used by the management. Historically, use of the word “development management” instead of “development administrative” enabled colonialists to establish their colonial administration.
Industrial enterprise also gives us another instance where strategy plays a significant role. Chandler (2003) notes that historically, industrial administrators rarely change their focus in their administrative work unless forced to do so by pressure from both the internal and the external environment. This was especially true with the American businesses which were the main focus of the study by Chandler (2003). The study revealed that most of the industrial enterprises had developed a strategy to decentralize all their operations. This has been achieved through setting up of multi-divisional structures that were independent from each other and from the central firm. Each division was accorded its own necessary personnel, funds, necessary facilities and other resources. Since each division is supposed to operate independently, it is mandated to view its problems as unique and its solutions should be genuine. They should not imitate each other. The executives in charge of each division were fully in charge of all the operations taking place there including the line of products or services offered and the financial reports. The reasons for the decentralization according to Chandler (2003) are worth mentioning. First, there was a need to expand the volume of activities. It was also important to set new plants and offices in different places tocater for the needs of the consumers. In addition, it was important to diversify in many lines of the business. Moreover, it was a strategy to overcome the negative impact of the changing economic atmosphere. With a diversified business which is also expanded, the administrators of such enterprises felt fully insulated against the bad economic state. Furthermore, it was a strategy to survive in the world of business competition.
Another illustration of success through the use of the principle of strategy is what happened to the concept of sovereigntysoon after the French Revolution. Initially, monarchs had defined the sovereignty in their own terms to suit their interests (Wallerstein, 2004). They referred to other people as subjects. Through struggle, the concept of sovereignty was focused on the people instead of the monarchs. Once the idea that the people were sovereign was accepted, the term “citizens” came into use. This term simply meant that all the people were equal and were subject to the same treatment. In addition, all were entitled to participate in decision making with regard to matters that concerned the state. In this respect, each person was recognized as important. However, for this recognition to happen there was an intense struggle between the state leadership and the movements created by the people. The state authority thought that they could suppress these movements. However, this was not to be. Strong movements came up that resisted the authority. One movement that is worth mentioning is the liberal movement. The liberals managed to solve the problem of class in the society. Their strategy was to promote education such that the educated were eligible to be promoted to full citizen’s rights. According to liberalism, those who had acquired higher education could be eligible in the leadership positions.
In conclusion, strategy is a principle that cannot be ignored in any struggle. As we have already seen, in a struggle, two or more parties are involved. They all employ different strategies against each other in order to take an advantage over each other. In the struggle, they employ the principle of the “survival for the fittest”. In order to demonstrate the strength to survive, each group will come up with varied plans that are aimed at giving it an edge over others. We have seen how employees in the automobile industry in Detroit managed to overcome the oppressions directed to them by the whites through strikes and demonstrations led by DRUM officials. We have also discussed how managers have invented methods of colonizing the minds of the employees in order to make them work effectively. They do this by the use of words that have an impact on the mind of the employee such as “ownership” instead of “psychological ownership”. Moreover, we have seen how industrial enterprises in America have used the strategy of decentralization of their operations. This has greatly strengthened these enterprises. Liberal movement was able to solve the problem of social class in the society by use of the strategy of education. It is therefore clear that in such a dynamic world that is characterized with changes and struggles, the principle of strategy is indispensable.
Wallerstein, I. (2004). World-systems Analysis: An Introduction. New York: Duke University Press.
Chandler, A. (2003). Strategy and structure. Washington, D.C.: Beard Books.
Wallerstein, I. (2011). The modern world-system. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Georgakas, D. and Surkin, M. (1998). Detroit, I do mind dying. Cambridge, Mass.: South End Press.
Schwartz, H. (2000). States versus markets. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave.