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The growth oxymoron: strategic execution

Carol M. Connell (Koppelman School of Business – Brooklyn College, City University of New York, Brooklyn, New York, USA)
Christine Lemyze (IBM Global Services, Armonk, New York, USA)

Strategic Direction

ISSN: 0258-0543

Article publication date: 17 April 2019

Issue publication date: 21 May 2019




The purpose of this paper is to present a viewpoint on aligning strategy and execution to produce superior business results.


The paper examines the long-term financials of the top ten growers to reveal companies that have continued to grow in good economic times and bad, including the Great Recession. While some companies dug deeper into their core businesses during the financial crisis, others continued to innovate.


Where companies continued to focus on strategy execution, they were rewarded, for example, Amazon’s compound annual growth rate for the ten-year period that included the financial crisis was 36.45 per cent; in the past three years, Amazon’s compound annual growth rate (CAGR) has been 56.76 per cent. Most of the top ten long-term growers are headed by the same founder/entrepreneur.

Research limitations/implications

Look beyond the past three years for models of successful strategy execution.

Practical implications

For long-term company leaders, entrepreneurs, or turnaround experts, strategic execution is no oxymoron, but a requirement for growth and, ultimately, their unique responsibility.

Social implications

The paper identifies three major focus areas for strategy teams and company leadership: 1. customer centricity and strategy execution; 2. learning from survivors; and 3. rethinking capabilities and talent.


As a professor of strategic management and as a consultant to organizations on strategy and marketing transformation, we have focused on the activities that are necessary for leaders to create effective strategy and to execute successfully. We have also been responsible for equipping the larger teams of strategy professionals (and future strategy professionals) who support these leaders with the approaches, the methods, and the tools necessary to plan effectively, to assess effectiveness, and to correct problems in strategy and execution. We bring that perspective to this viewpoint paper.



Connell, C.M. and Lemyze, C. (2019), "The growth oxymoron: strategic execution", Strategic Direction, Vol. 35 No. 6, pp. 1-4.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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