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From Resource Allocation to Strategy [Hardcover]

by Joseph L. Bower, Clark G. Gilbert
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 12, 2006 0199277443 978-0199277445
Joseph L. Bower and Clark G. Gilbert have collected together some of the leading experts on strategy to examine how strategy is actually made by company managers across the several levels of an organization. Is strategy a coherent plan conceived at the top by a visionary leader, or is it formed by a series of smaller decisions, not always reflecting what top management has in mind? Often it is by examining how options for using resources are developed and selected, that we can see how a company's competitive position gets shaped. On the bases of this understanding, we can see better how these processes can be managed. The book's five sections examine how the resource allocation process works, how the way it works can lead a company into serious problems, how top management can intervene to fix these problems and where the most recent thinking on these problems is headed. A fifth section contains assessments of this work by through leaders I the fields of economics, competitive strategy, organizational behavior, and strategic management. The implications for those who study firms are considerable. Activity that is normally thought about in terms of substantive outcomes such as market share and revenue growth, or present value and internal rate of return, is seen to be inextricably related to organizational and administrative questions. The finding presented here should inform the research of economists, strategists and behavioral scientists. Thoughtful executives and those who consult with them will also find the book provocative. The processes described are complex, but clear enough so that the way toward effective management is apparent. The models developed provide a basis for building the systems and organization necessary for today's competitive world.

Editorial Reviews


`Best Management Book, 2006' Strategy + Business

About the Author

Joseph L. Bower is a Professor in the General Management unit at Harvard Business School. Professor Bower is a leading expert in the fields of corporate strategy, organization, and public policy, and has devoted his research and teaching to the problems top managements face as they deal with the rapidly changing political economy and competitive circumstances of the contemporary world economy, as well as publishing many books and articles on these issues. Clark G. Gilbert is an Assistant Professor in the Entrepreneurial Management unit at the Harvard Business School. He teaches the Entrepreneurial Manager Course in the first year of the MBA program and has served as the co-director of faculty recruiting for his unit. Professor Gilbert's research focuses on corporate innovation and the challenges of entrepreneurship in large, established firms. Prior to joining Harvard Business School, Professor Gilbert worked as a consultant at the Monitor Group. Today he consults widely to the media, healthcare, and technology industries.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 500 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (January 12, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199277443
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199277445
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,001,786 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful consolidation of 35 years of work February 3, 2006
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Professors Bower and Gilbert have done a fine job of crystalizing the stream of work begun by Professor Bower's 1970 Managing the Resource Allocation Process (RAP). The initial RAP work descriptively presented a more practically satisfying view of how firms arrive at major resource decisions than the prevailing (to this day) mathematical optimization models in economic textbooks. What Professor Bower, and those who followed in this line of research described is far closer to the reality experienced by executives.

In the intervening 35 years quite a few of business academe's leading thinkers have used this three-layer framework to describe and understand the inner workings of complex organizations. In the process, while the basic framework has remained solid, many nuances and implications have emerged. Furthermore, the RAP model has moved from more descriptive toward becoming more prescriptive. Thus RAP has become increasingly relevant to business practice.

Much of this work, however, has appeared in piecemeal fashion -- insightful, but somewhat disconnected from the underlying theory. This book brings together the varied threads of work in a nicely structured, focused volume. The reader receives direct exposure to the leading thinkers in this school of work. The book provides a concise reference point highlighted by specific cases to bring out the subtleties of the theory and usefulness of the RAP. And happily, the quality of the writing is extremely high and approachable, even for the non-academic reader.

While the more practical business executive may find some of this a bit too academic, that academic-ness is necessary to frame such a broad theory of business. Those who undertake reading this book will be rewarded with useful insights and a clearer understanding of what really makes large organizations tick.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
My initial reaction to the title was to question which should come first: resource allocation or strategy? Then as I began to read this brilliant book, I understood what Joseph L. Bower and Clark G. Gilbert's objectives were as co-editors and contributors. As they reveal in the book's Preface, "Our intention in writing this book is threefold: First, we hope to communicate the unique character of the resource allocation process and its link to strategy through the development of a formal model. Second, we hope to show how this model has evolved over 30 years of research development. Finally, we hope to better connect the research on resource allocation to the field of strategy as a whole." Bower and Gilbert brilliantly achieve all three objectives. Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Illuminating diversity, powerful synthesis March 15, 2007
The chapters of this book cover a wide range of industries, stratgic challenges, and managerial perspectives, and each combines a solid footing in the realities of organizational life with careful and rigorous scholarship. With contributions from such luminaries as Clayton Christensen, and including experts on decision-making, strategy, and industrial economics, this collection of essays shines a light on just about every aspect of strategy-making and implementation.

At the same time, and all the more powerfully, there is a consistent and readily evident thread that runs through it all, a thread made evident in thoughtful summary essays for each section: strategy is what you do, and how you decide what to do is the essence of the strategy process. To guide strategy-making, then, is to shape how decisions are made and direct the allocation of resources -- organizational, financial, and human -- toward specific ends.

Getting stuff done in complex organizations is a messy process, and fraught with difficulty, but the insights available in this book make it clear that if this complexity is to be channelled and controlled, it must be embraced, not ignored. Time spent reading this book and reflecting on the insights its many authors offer will pay large dividends.

Full Disclosure: I contributed a chapter to this publication, and am proud of having my work included in this collection. I offer no opinion on my chapter, and instead comment here only on the other chapters.
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