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An emergent strategy is a pattern of action that develops over time in an organization in the absence of a specific mission and goals, or despite a mission and goals.
Emergent strategy is sometimes called realized strategy. An emergent strategy or realized strategy differs from an intended strategy.
Mintzberg argues that strategy emerges over time as intentions collide with and accommodate a changing reality.
Emergent strategy is a set of actions, or behavior, consistent over time, "a realized pattern [that] was not expressly intended" in the original planning of strategy. When a deliberate strategy is realized, the result matches the intended course of action. An emergent strategy develops when an organization takes a series of actions that with time turn into a consistent pattern of behavior, regardless of specific intentions. "Deliberate strategies provide the organization with a sense of purposeful direction." Emergent strategy implies that an organization is learning what works in practice. Mixing the deliberate and the emergent strategies in some way will help the organization to control its course while encouraging the learning process. "Organizations ...[may] pursue ... umbrella strategies: the broad outlines are deliberate while the details are allowed to emerge within them" (Mintzberg, 1994, p. 23-25; Hax & Majluf, 1996, p. 17).
from Mintzberg, H. (1994). The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning. New York, NY: The Free Press.
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