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Strategy Is Destiny: How Strategy-Making Shapes a Company's Future Hardcover – February 5, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Granted unprecedented access to Intel, Stanford Business School professor Burgelman was able to observe how the company's strategies at key moments helped shape its history. Specifically, he looks closely at the decisions Intel's top managers made as the company evolved from being a memory-chip company to a firm whose product is now a central building block of the Internet. From there he works outward, drawing four distinct lessons from the Intel story: embrace a strategy as a way of imposing order; when that strategy proves useless, spend a lot of time studying why (since the forces rendering your strategy worthless might lead to a huge opportunity); capitalize on your core strengths and search out new prospects simultaneously; and manage the change process aggressively. Most strategy books look at numerous companies and trends, and then try to distill the lessons to a central approach. Burgelman takes the opposite approach, generalizing from what he has discovered by studying one company in depth. If readers can get past the minutiae (Burgelman seems compelled to record everything that has happened in the company's more than 30-year history), his lessons could be greatly useful to senior managers grappling with how to integrate strategy into day-to-day operations. (Feb.)Forecast: Burgelman and Intel's chairman, Andrew Grove, have co-taught a course at Stanford for several years, and the author's closeness with his subject should attract serious businesspersons. Booksellers who display this title alongside Grove's recent memoir, Swimming Across (Forecasts, Sept. 17) should see increased sales.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

According to Burgelman (management, Stanford Univ.), a researcher on internal corporate venturing and entrepreneurship, both "successful and unsuccessful strategies shape a company's destiny." Here he describes the theories and ideas behind successful strategies within the framework of Intel, based on his 12-year study of the company and his coteaching of Intel's case studies with its chair, Andrew Grove. Burgelman's extensive study was based on analysis of quantitative company data and interviews with company executives. The result is an ideal combination of theory and practice; theories of strategy are studied within the context of three epochs of Intel's history, during which the company experienced great upheaval, change, and growth. Bibliographic footnotes regarding Intel are provided. The financial highlights section and appendixes should be extremely useful to those researching the company. Burgelman's book should be required reading for management students and is highly recommended for business collections in academic libraries. Lucy Heckman, St. John's Univ., Jamaica, NY

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1st edition (February 5, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684855542
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684855547
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #425,070 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 1, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Prof. Burgelman is no Michael Porter.
Where Prof. Porter communicates complex ideas in simple terms, Prof. Burgelman finds extremely complicated ways to obscure simple ideas.
Luckily, this book is chock full of quotes and examples that Burgelman largely leaves untouched.
If you factor out Burgelman's poor organization, unbridled love for Intel, and penchant for incomprehensible prose, this is a great book. Burgelman was indeed provided unparalleled access to one of the most successful companies of the 20th century. The stories he tells are true. The quotes and examples are not self-serving.
The only thing missing here is a control group. Intel has entered the 21st century riding at least one strategic inflection point (a favorite term of Dr. Grove's). It would have been interesting if Burgelman would have stopped being a cheerleader for a moment and compared Intel to its closest analog: IBM of 10-15 years ago. Dr. Grove and Intel's "ESM" would be well-served to follow Dr. Grove's own advice and learn lessons from the past.
Still, a fascinating book, particularly for the competitive strategist. Not for the faint of heart.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jackal on January 20, 2015
Format: Hardcover
The writing style of the author is awful. Most academics write much better because they hone their ideas in the publication process. This author seems to be a bit of a loner and does not like his ideas to be scrutinised by others.

There are many interesting episodes in the book, but there is absolutely no overview and there is no attention paid to alternative explanatins. He talks about Intel owning the RAM market in the mid 1970s and then in the mid 1980s they exited and focused on microprocessors. The authors main argument is that the transformation was driven by middle managers, often against the will of the top. Interesting, but the author is sloppy with timing. In 1984 they had 1% of the market, but in 1980 they had only 3%. So what happened between 1980 and 1984? Really four years of inertia? The author does not comment on these years at all. Instead he comments on the late 1970s. So what is the reader to do? The only option is to accept the author's conclusions.

Assume the reader would accept the author's thinking as valid. The reader then has to contend with the author's new terminology. The terminology is obscure and does not tie to any terminology used by other scholars. I suppose that might be acceptable if the author would had given us the important data in the book. No we are asked to believe his data as well as his terminology. The original research was published in the 1990 and nobody has used the author's terminology.

To the author: You could have written a great path-breaking book that academics and managers alike would find interesting. Sadly, you blew it.

I give the book 2 stars because there is a great deal of effort put into the book. With a bit more structure this book could have been a classic with a treasure trove of data. Now it is worth reading for the interaction of Intel enthusiasts and corporate strategy enthusiasts and academic inclination.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Anyone interested in strategic decision making in action will not be disappointed.

Robert Burgelman analysis of intel's transformation and the forces that shaped the company's future will be fascinated.

I could not stop reading this book once I started reading it. If you love strategy and technology, this book is for you.

Martin Daly
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2 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is mainly an academic book, yet it can be insightful for CEOs or high and middle level executives too. The book describes and analyzes the extensive work of Prof. Burgelman in Strategy Process. Strategy-making cannot be considered as a pret-a-porter suit, yet Prof. Burgelman's model provides means to understand how to taylor one's suit.
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