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The eight principles of strategic authenticity

B. Joseph Pine II (Cofounder of the firm Strategic Horizons LLP located in Aurora, Ohio (pine&
James H. Gilmore (Cofounder of the firm Strategic Horizons LLP located in Aurora, Ohio (pine&

Strategy & Leadership

ISSN: 1087-8572

Article publication date: 9 May 2008




As more companies wrap their offering with “an experience,” it is important that experience authenticity is understood to be a critical consumer sensibility. This paper aims to address this issue.


The authors have studied experience marketing and found that consumers often choose to buy or not buy based on how genuine they perceive an offering to be. The authors warn that fakery, phoniness, or manipulation that becomes associated with your offering will harm your brand.


The paper finds that executives must learn to understand, manage, and excel at delivering authenticity. So how can leaders tell the difference between bogus and authentic business opportunities?

Research limitations/implications

A short case study of the Walt Disney Company shows that authenticity will not result when a company strives for a strategic position that is inimical to its traditions.

Practical implications

The execution zone is the set of decisions and actions that a company can make and still be perceived as true to self. For companies that try to operate outside their execution zone there is little likelihood that the resultant offerings will be perceived as authentic. Managers can learn to use eight principles to guide them in delineating where exactly your own “execution zone” lies, and thereby stake out viable, powerful, and compelling competitive positions.


To discover your company's authentic opportunities, use the eight principles to peer into your future until you determine where you should go. And then treat that future not as a destination but as a guide to the path before you.



Pine, B.J. and Gilmore, J.H. (2008), "The eight principles of strategic authenticity", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 36 No. 3, pp. 35-40.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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