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Revisiting “What is Strategy?” and Why it Matters

Kenneth Cory (G. Brint Ryan College of Business, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA)

Strategy & Leadership

ISSN: 1087-8572

Article publication date: 26 February 2024

Issue publication date: 19 April 2024




There are few concepts in the modern business lexicon where people feel as strongly confident in their understanding of its meaning – while there is simultaneously such profound disagreement in how people actually define the term – than the concept of “strategy.” After decades of research and publications trying to correct this situation, the problem remains. It is difficult to advance the field, teach the field, or even effectively put it into practice if you cannot define what “it” is in a clear, concise, and meaningful way. This paper offers updated definitions of key strategic management concepts.


A large academic and practitioner literature review was added to the author’s personal experience as a Fortune 500 chief strategy officer and university professor to identify five separate concepts at the heart of current colloquial uses of the term “strategy.” These concepts were then clarified and defined with implications summarized.


The generic term “strategy” is frequently used in place of multiple other very distinct concepts. This problem of concept ambiguity can be greatly reduced by understanding and emphasizing the definitions and usage of five other, already existing, business terms – “Strategic Management,” “Strategic Planning Process,” “Strategic Plan,” “Realized Strategy,” and “Business Model.”


This paper identifies the negative effects of the misuse of the term strategy and offers clear, concise remedies. Resolving the definition problems is a necessary precursor to the advancement, education, and practice of the field.



Cory, K. (2024), "Revisiting “What is Strategy?” and Why it Matters", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 52 No. 1, pp. 1-6.



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