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From Resource Allocation to Strategy Paperback – October 11, 2007

3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199277452 ISBN-10: 0199277451 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews


"Best Management Book, 2006"--Strategy + Business

"The essays Bower and Gilbert have brought together in this edited book showcase the major contributions and synthesize them by updating the resource allocation process model, as well as by noting important exceptions to its validity."--Administrative Science Quarterly

About the Author

Joseph L. Bower is a Professor of General Management, and Clark G. Gilbert is Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurial Management, both at Harvard Business School.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 488 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (October 11, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199277451
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199277452
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 0.9 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,348,744 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Nick Palmer on 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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Format: Hardcover
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 By Michael Raynor on March 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
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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