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VINE VOICEon 19 May 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have mixed feelings about this!

The reference is to "C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre: c'est de la folie" ("It is magnificent, but it is not war: it is madness"), the comment of Marshal Canrobert on the charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava. That might also apply here.

This is a massive, well-researched and thorough tome. The first section offers a good overview of various strategy concepts - sources of competitive advantage, analysis, vertical and horizontal integration, value chain analysis and so on. The second section offers a good selection of twenty four up to date case studies with a broad range and coverage. The standard is very good - it's intelligent, well organised and thought out, and well written. The author clearly brings insight to the task of presenting this rather than just trotting out standard models. For example, he debunks the "SWOT" model (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats), pointing out that this doesn't really add much you wouldn't get from just thinking about internal and external factors. That's a breath of fresh air, as is the writing overall. In this genre, this is a very good book.

My reservation is that despite nods to the role of creativity, this is necessarily a reductionist view of the world. It assumes that everything can be analysed to determine key factors that cause it, and that those key factors can then be understood and applied elsewhere. I'm not so sure. Other perspectives exist - from Feyerbrand's The Tyranny of Science through Iain McGilchrist's The Master and His Emissary to the Demna translation of Sun Tzu The Art of War and even Borges and Lao Tze. I suspect this kind of analytic approach has greater limitations than we generally recognise, in a kind of "Texas Barn Shooting" kind of way. Rationalization is applied to those businesses which are known because they have succeeded at some point, and we believe we can determine the cause of success or subsequent failure. But in the end you can't be sure it's any more than post hoc rationalization - you can't tell if other factors made a difference, and if you try to apply the ideas elsewhere and they don't work, you can't tell whether it's your analysis that's the problem, or that the context was different. And if you can't replicate it, it's not science (with a nod to Karl Popper there).

Machiavelli once suggested that about 50% of success is down to chance, and I've yet to see anything that improves on that estimate. As Sun Tzu says, "victory cannot be determined in advance".

Of its type this is good, but in the end I'm not sure this kind of detailed, analytic and academic approach is as useful as it seems. Ultimately, success (in any field) is a performance art. Frank Zappa once said "writing about music is like dancing about architecture" - the same might well apply to business.

It's a solid or even excellent book, in its own terms. I just think those terms have limitations!
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VINE VOICEon 7 May 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I am currently doing the CIM professional diploma and one of the modules is on planning and strategy. I have not studied a lot in this area before and was looking for a book that would not only explain the theory but provide practical examples on the application of theory. This book was exactly what I wanted.

Various theories are explained and compared and real-world examples are given which make the topics discussed very accessible and memorable. Self-study questions are provided to help you review what you've learned.

One of the really nice featuers of this book is that it is supplemented by an interactive e-book. A unique code is included with the book and this gives you access to the online experience. It's very easy to sign up and well worth doing. One of my favourite features is the 'flash cards'. You're presented with a number of cards with the name of a theory on the front - click on them and you'll get the definition. A really nice revision feature.

The range of topics covered is comprehensive ... in brief they are:
The concept of strategy
The tools of strategy analysis
Business strategy and the quest for competitive advantage
Corporate strategy
24 case studies - these range from 'brands' as diverse as Madonna, Facebook and Manchester United.

Highly recommended for anyone who neesd a firm foundation in the study and application of strategy.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Contemporary Strategy Analysis is a well-written text book composed of theory, case studies and analysis, written from the Design School of Strategy perspective.

The case studies vary from the breezy and general, such as the analysis of HM The Queen and Lady Gaga, to highly technical and detailed, such as the 18 page discussion of Eastman Kodak's Quest for a Digital Future. This is a judicious method, since the lessons learned from the 'Strategy Capsule' studies, as the short studies are termed, and the full-blown chapter-length case studies are quite different. Readers may be particularly interested in the 'Manchester United: Preparing for life without Ferguson' section, as there is now an opportunity to directly compare the intended strategy, as set out here, with the club's strategic performance with Ferguson gone.

The overall strategic approach of this book could be described as 'SWOT-plus'. The author explains early on the relationship of his approach to the SWOT model, though he points out the fundamental weaknesses of SWOT and demonstrates effectively why a more nuanced approach is necessary, which can take account of something being both a strength (Alex Ferguson's skill as a coach) and a threat (the fact that he was nearing retirement). Nonetheless, the book's fundamental perspective is finding a strategic fit between the company and its environment, and therefore fits into what Mintzberg terms (and the book acknowledges to be) the Design School.

There is a brief discussion of the Design and the Emergent Schools, but author Robert M. Grant does not seem to take into account the other schools described by Mintzberg in Strategy Safari: The Complete Guide Through the Wilds of Strategic Management, and, indeed, the most recent references to Mintzberg's work are from the 1970s.

Overall this is a very good and helpful book, lucidly written and well structured for those looking for a particular strategy area or case study. My only quibble is that the chapter end-notes are not supplemented with a unified bibliography at the end.
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on 5 December 2016
I'm new to the subject, but this is painfully difficult to read. The author seems to jump a lot from one topic to another. The exercises after each chapter are too long and open-ended. It would help a lot to have author's answer, otherwise I'll never really know whether my understanding of the problem is correct.
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VINE VOICEon 14 August 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I can't speak for management or marketing students, but for in-practice business use this is a veritable strategy bible.

In the age of 'The Apprentice', Strategy is a word bandied about without much in the way of understanding what exactly a strategy is, let alone how to formulate and implement one. This book provides a clear, structured answer. I have no idea academically if this is the best answer, but what is provided is workable in a modern business environment and it is essential to have a framework like this to work around.

The abundance of case studies helps position the advice perfectly for a business context. Weighing in at more than 800 very large pages, it's quite the battle to complete if you've got a full-time job so you may wish to only read the pertinent chapters.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 April 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a big book of over 800 pages. It's a detailed and very comprehensive look at strategy analysis, and not (unfortunately for me) not for beginners in this area. I wanted to learn more about strategy, but it's a bit beyond my current knowledge level and I found it slow going. This is really a text for advanced students, probably those on MBA or similar level courses.

Just over half of the book is chapters on strategy and all its nuances. The second half of the book is case studies to illustrate and support the materials covered in the first half. The cases are modern and contemporary, covering people and businesses like Madonna, Wal-Mart, Starbucks, Google and so on.

There are small examples throughout the book which illustrate the key concepts. In the first chapter, The Queen and Lady Gaga are used as examples to show how strategy has been used by those individuals to bring about their particular types of success.

So the book is a bit too in-depth for me and my requirements, but this is a quality text which is well laid out with lots of accessible examples to bring the content and concepts to a practical application.
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on 15 April 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A comprehensive and highly thought of book written by a professor of Strategic Company Management

It can be read in conjunction with a web site which gives access to further cases, video clips, quizzes and glossary flash cards to support the subject matter in the book which is so useful.

For a teacher of the subject the web site also includes an instructor's manual and case teaching notes and other supportive tools.

The style of the book is very easy to read and it is full of charts and visual aids which help to balance the depth of the subject with practicality

This latest edition of the book, the eighth edition, is updated to include topical strategic challenges including post financial crisis adjustment, entrepreneurial flexibility, innovation with cost efficiency and globalization with local responsiveness so a very positive purchase for a student or teacher involved in this area.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
this is 800 pages of well laid out and explained static analysis that will be essential to any bussiness or business student looking for ideas, case studies, or " the basics", or the "long game " of strategy when it comes to implementing ideas you have into your bussiness. what works and what doesnt, covering in the first hand the basic tenents followed in teh second half with teh case studies and aids in using your newly found knowledge. as someone who has studied and still studies miitary strategy you have to think of it as a fluid science often effected by many externalities beyond either your control or knowledge, so best to learn the maxims and remain flexible, and thats exactly what this text book will allow you to do
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on 16 January 2014
Grant's Contemporary Strategy Analysis provides a comprehensive and practical review of all the key strategy topics, from analysing internal resources and capabilities to competitive advantage in mature industries.
It provides a detailed and pragmatic overview, ideal for my Strategy Exec MBA module, with numerous practical case studies making it a must have for both post graduates and industry practitioners.
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VINE VOICEon 17 May 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Grant's book is simply a must-have. Properly revised and with many new case studies, some of which just have been added very late, it explains the importance of strategy in modern business. The word strategy is much misused and plenty of my colleagues talk about strategic thinking when they just mean that they're being vague. It is quite a large book but the analysis is good and repays this level of dissection. A student who doesn't learn from this book must be dull indeed.Highly recommended.
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