The purpose of this paper is to contest Mintzberg's influential “five Ps for strategy”. It exposes the negative side effect of these “five Ps” and urges a rethinking of the concept of strategy. It also points to an alternative direction for further research building on a more robust definition of strategy that does not aim to combine the five Ps but to focus instead on, and to draw boundaries around, the substance of strategy.
The key arguments of Mintzberg's article are critically evaluated and alternative arguments are advanced.
None of the “five Ps for strategy” satisfies the criteria of a good definition. However, their impact is still evident, especially the definition of “strategy as pattern” and the idea that any decision can be “more or less” “strategic”. The “five Ps” have served their intent at the time, and their impact now is more negative than positive.
The “five Ps” are no longer useful in advancing the descriptive or prescriptive purposes of the strategy field. Researchers need to rethink the concept of strategy.
Leaders should not be confused by the “five Ps”. Instead, they should look for more rigorous and relevant definitions that help them think through their dynamic and uncertain environment.
This paper is probably the first to specifically contest the five definitions of strategy offered by Mintzberg and the argument behind them.
Khalifa, A.S. (2023), "Contesting Mintzberg's five Ps for strategy: it is time for a product recall", Journal of Strategy and Management, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 112-127. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSMA-12-2021-0243
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