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Contesting Mintzberg's five Ps for strategy: it is time for a product recall

Azaddin Salem Khalifa (Department of Management, University of Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates)

Journal of Strategy and Management

ISSN: 1755-425X

Article publication date: 19 May 2022

Issue publication date: 8 February 2023

775

Abstract

Purpose

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.

Design/methodology/approach

The key arguments of Mintzberg's article are critically evaluated and alternative arguments are advanced.

Findings

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.

Research limitations/implications

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.

Practical implications

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.

Originality/value

This paper is probably the first to specifically contest the five definitions of strategy offered by Mintzberg and the argument behind them.

Keywords

Citation

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

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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