Organizational Strategy

Organizational strategy is an expression of how an organization needs to evolve over time to meet its objectives along with a detailed assessment. Developing an organizational strategy involves first comparing your institution’s present state to its targeted state to define differences, and then define what is required for the desired changes to take place.

Bess & Dee (2008), give an overview of the five models of organizational strategy: Linear (rational, assessment of internal modes), Adaptive (systems theory principles-adapt internal responses to external environment), Emergent (social construction-retrospective assessment of how institution is evolving), Symbolic (organizational culture-reflects values and beliefs of organization and its members), and Postmodern (questions power and privilege-embraces differences of opinion).

The symbolic model “serves as a story that explains organizational behaviors to internal and external audiences” (Bess & Dees, 2008, p. 714). The overall emphasis is on the "shared values and beliefs" of our society. Symbolic model of strategy which Bess and Dee (2012) state is "a common understanding of the institution's goals, behaviors, and outcomes" (p. 713).

The adaptive model means the institution/organization is being proactive and not reactive. Also there is assessment of the decisions, goals, policies, etc. to ensure that things are going according to plan. According to the text, the emergent model is sense-making through which the organization identifies patterns or activity.

Mintzberg (1983), describes linkages of external and internal coalitions and the resultant power relationship; these include instrument, closed system, autocracy, missionary, meritocracy, or political arena (Bess & Dee, 2008 p. 720). Autocracy configuration is said to be guided by personalized “control by the chief executive officer,” by a passive external coalition (Bess and Dee, 2012, p 720). 


In 1983 Keller introduced SWOT analysis as part of his adaptive model to higher education. This stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (Bess & Dee, 2008 p. 728).


Bess, J. & Dee, J. (2008). Understanding College and University  

            Organization: Theories For Effective Policy and Practice. (p. 713-714). Sterling, Virginia: Stylus 


Keller, G. (1983) Academic strategy: the management revolution in American higher education.

Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins Press.

Menon, A. (1999). Antecedents and Consequences of Marketing Strategy Making. Journal

of Marketing (American Marketing Association) 63 (2): 18–40.

Mintzberg, H. (1983). Power in and around the organization. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-


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