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Introduction to Strategic Planning


Prepare a report addressing the following tasks, answer all questions and relate your answers to Apple wherever possible:

Task 1 The Process of Strategic Planning

1.1.    Explain the concept of strategy, vision, mission, goals, objectives and core competencies.  

1.2.    Review the issues involved in strategic planning.

1.3.    Explain different planning techniques that organisations can use

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Task 2 Formulating Strategy

2.1. Produce an internal organisational audit of Apple evaluating their strengths and weaknesses

2.2. Carry out an industry analysis of Apple using Porter’s 5 Forces framework, and conduct and environmental analysis of its macro environment using PESTEL model, clearly identifying Opportunities and threats present in the external environment.

2.3. Explain the significance/importance of stakeholder analysis.

Task 3 Approaches to Strategy Evaluation and Selection

3.1.   Analyse possible alternative future strategies of Apple relating to substantive growth (horizontal and vertical integration, related and unrelated diversification), limited growth (do nothing, strategies described in Ansoff’s Matrix – market penetration, market development, product development) and retrenchment.

3.2. Select an appropriate strategy Apple can pursue for its future growth.

Task 4 Strategy Implementation

4.1. Compare the roles and responsibilities of the different levels of strategy in implementing the strategy adopted in 3.2.

4.2. Evaluate what resources will be required to implement Apple’s chosen strategy.
4.3. Discuss targets and timescales to monitor the successful achievement of the adopted strategy for Apple.

This unit aims at analyzing and understanding strategy processes, which includes strategic planning, strategy formulation, implementation of strategies, and the different approaches of evaluating strategies. In order to achieve this objective, this paper discusses different elements of strategic planning, the various issues involved in strategic planning, and different ways or techniques that organizations can use to organize and strategies effectively. This report also uses a real life analysis of a case study of a leading  organization to assess its strategic processes. Strategic planning refers to a systematic process that organizations use to envision their desired future in their respective industries. The process entails translating the desired vision through some broadly defined objectives or goals and a sequence of other specific steps of procedures that aim at achieving the desired goals and objectives. Strategic planning can also be defined as the process of a firm defining its desired direction and making appropriate decisions regarding allocation of resources and time in ensuring the desired goals and objectives are met within the specified time.

Strategic planning emerged as a critical component of strategic management in the 1960s. It has remained vital for planning processes in contemporary organizations. Implementation of strategies general involves setting desired goals and objectives as well as determining the various actions that will lead to the organization achieving the goals, mobilizing resources that will ensure the organization executes its plan effectively and efficiently. It is the responsibility of senior management to define strategies for their organizations; creating detailed plans of implementing the strategy as well as setting up appropriate structures for evaluating the plan.

Strategic planning is important for any organization. A clear understanding of the process of strategic planning is crucial for successful implementation of the same. This chapter focuses on mission, vision, objectives, goals and core competencies of Apple Inc., issues involved in strategic planning and also different planning techniques. Apple is one of the leading technology companies in the world. The report will present an organizational audit for the company as well as environmental audit. The paper will also discuss the significance of stakeholder analysis for Apple Inc. Apple is an American multinational organization, with its headquarters based in Cupertino, California. The company develops, designs, and sells computer software, consumer electronics, personal computers, while also offering a wide range of other online services. Among Apple’s renowned list of brands, include the iPod Media Player, iPad tablet computer, iPhone smartphone and the Mac line of computers. The company also offers a wide range of services search as iCloud, App store and iTunes, as well as producing and selling software products such as OS X, iOS operating system, iTunes media browser, and the Safari Web browser.

Importance of Strategic Planning for Any Organization

1.1: Explain Strategic Contexts and Terminology

According to Johnson et al (2011), strategy refers to the “the long-term direction of an organization”. Therefore, strategic planning has an element of long-term direction through which an organization hopes to achieve its goals. For instance, Apple Inc. has established several practical measures categorized under three main aims and objectives. These aims are innovation, operational excellence, and customer relationship management (CRM). The practical measures of the company can be identified as the desired long-term direction of the company.

Strategic planning of any company has five main contexts or components. These are the company’s missions, visions, objectives, goals, core competencies. These components are often identified and written in clear statements that define the company’s ideals and desired direction within a specified time frame.

Mission refers to the organization’s role or purpose, which acts as a guiding principle in the company’s interaction with its stakeholders. Mission statements describe what the company does, its stakeholders, and the different things that make the organization unique. This is basically a justification of the organization’s existence. Ideal mission statements are clear and brief, but manage to capture the organization’s essence in the few words described. It shows the focus of the business. For instance, Apple’s mission statement is to “Deliver value to our customers by providing the most reliable and efficient solutions through information technology”.

Vision, on the other hand, refers to the direction in which the firm intends to be in the future, or the point at which the organization will be best suited to serve the needs of its stakeholders. This incorporates a shared understanding of the purpose and nature of the business and uses this understanding to drive the organization towards a far much greater purpose. The main purpose of a vision statement is to inspire the employees and management of the organization to work together collaboratively in driving the organization’s agenda and accomplish the company’s desired goals. A good vision statement is one that is brief, powerful, and simple. It must also have an emotional impact because its main objective is to inspire people towards achieving greater good for the business.

Objectives of an organization describe its desired outcomes for its activities. The objectives of an organization are much more specific, measureable, attainable, realistic, and time bound. For instance, Apple’s top-level objective is “to achieve profitable growth.

Goals refer to organizational targets that must be achieved within a specific time. Without elaborate goals or aims, one cannot live happily and with the feeling of satisfaction. Goals can be one or more objectives that need to be achieved by specific time. Goals make one to get clarification to do a specific task choosing from various options what one thinks of about his future. The goals explain the way in which the organization is going to achieve its mission. Organizational goals and aims can be identified as similar concepts. There are three main types of organizational goals; uniform goals, performance based goals, and potential based goals.

Uniform goals refer to a single goal is set for all departments within the Company. Every department is expected to meet the same goal. In performance goals, every organization is given a goal that reflects an increment on last year’s performance. On the other hand, potential based goals are the criteria used to assess organization’s potential.

Apple Inc: A Case Study of Strategic Planning

Core competencies differentiate the organization from its competitors. Skills, resources, and activities which cannot be imitated by other competitors can be identified as core competencies of the organization. Apple has many core competencies and it has led to achieve the competitive advantage through available resources.         

1.2: Review the Issues Involved in Strategic Planning

Sadler (2003) defines strategic planning as the form of systematized, step-by-step, procedure to develop an organization’s strategy. This strategic planning involves with many issues and Sadler (2003) has identified five (5) major issues which involve with strategic planning namely, confusing strategy with the strategic plan, detachment from reality, paralysis by analysis, lack of ownership, and dampening of innovation. 

There can be confusion with the existing strategies at the stage of strategic planning. Managers may feel that the strategic planning is the planning of same strategies which they are practicing now. Also detachment from reality is also another issue. Sadler (2003) argues that strategic planning is an intellectual process and it damages to the reality of operation. This basically happens because of the lack of involvement for the strategic planning of employees. The next issue is paralysis by analysis. This argues that strategic planning can be over-detailed because of the extensive analysis. Lack of ownership is another problem. Most of strategies are planned by the corporate planning department or by the senior management. Thus, it can be argued that strategic planning does not have a wide spread of ownership within the organization. The final argument is that strategic planning is dampening of innovation. This mainly happen since strategic planning introduces many strict controls to the organization and it limits the flexibility of the organization (Sadler, 2003).

1.3 Different Planning Techniques for Organizations

There are several techniques or strategies that organizations can use for their strategic planning purposes. The two most common strategic planning techniques are BCM Matrix Model technique and the SPACE Analysis Matrix model technique.

The BCM matrix model technique is founded on the product life cycle theory, which helps organizations determine the priorities that should be given to different products in the company‘s portfolio of a business unit. In order to be sustainable in the long term, a business ought to have a portfolio of products containing both high products that need more cash inputs as well as other low growth products that generate more cash for the business. Therefore, the BCG matrix model has two dimensions for business planning purposes. These are market growth and market share dimensions. The main objective for tis classification is that the bigger the market share for a product or the more the product grows in the market the better it is for the business.

The BCG matrix has four categories for placing products of a company in relation to their market share and market growth aspects. These are stars, cash cows, dogs, and question marks. Products in the star category have higher growth and higher market share. These products consume huge amounts of cash, but also generate more cash because they command a bigger share of the market. Products in the cash cow section, on the other hand, have low growth and a bigger market share. These products generate a lot of profits for the business, but since they have a lower growth, the business should put in les investment. The third category, the dogs, consists of products with low growth and low market share. The business needs to minimize or avoid this kind of products because they are not as productive for the long term business development plan. Finally, products in the question mark category have higher growth with a low market share. This implies that these products have a higher demand in the market, but they bring in little returns for the business. If there is no change in the market share for these products, they may end up consuming a lot of investment, and end up as products in the dog segment. The BCG matrix can be illustrated as shown below;

The Stars

High business growth

High Market share

The Question Mark

High business growth

Low market share

Cash cows

Low growth

High market share

The dog

Low growth

Low market share

Components of Strategic Planning: Mission, Vision, Objectives, and Goals


Strategic Position and Action Evaluation Matrix or SPACE analysis matrix helps businesses to assess the sense and wisdom in implementing specific strategic plans. This strategy was devised by Alan Row et al. This planning technique is useful in helping a company to review its current strategy to determine if they will be a success or failure for the business. SPACE Analysis can be used in the initial stages of planning for the purposes of predicting main themes in the planning process.  The model can also be used as one way of evaluating the strategies of a company to determine whether they have helped the company to meet its objectives. Similarly, this method can be used to evaluate individual strategic options generated by using a tool like the Ansoff Growth Matrix

SPACE Analysis is a systematic appraisal of four key issues that balance the external and internal factors that should determine the general theme of the strategy:


  • Industry Attractiveness
  • Environmental Stability


  • Competitive Advantage
  • Financial Strength

The SPACE Analysis model can be illustrated as shown below


2.1 Produce an Organizational Audit For a Given Organization

SWOT analysis method is one of the most used strategies in analyzing the environment of an organization. It refers to the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that characterize and organization’s internal and external environment. In developing an organizational audit for Apple Inc. the SWOT technique will be the most appropriate because it helps to paint a clear [picture of the factors that affect the organization, both internally and externally (Thompson, 2001).


The strengths of Apple can be listed out as follows

  • Apple is a global Company with a huge client base serving customers in over 200 countries around the world. This huge customer base give the company a bigger market share when compared to its competitors.
  • Apple is considered the most reliable manufacturer of smart phones, personal computers, and other consumer electronics. This gives the company adequate strength in the market because it already has the customer trust and a good brand and image among consumers
  • The company uses sophisticated technology. This ensures it manufactures its products in the best environment, reducing the production costs and time. This gives the company sufficient strength because it facilitates production of high quality products.
  • Apple has a committed and a highly trained staff. This gives the company enough strength in its human resource to implement its policies.


Being a well-established organization and as an organization, which maintains a healthy organizational environment, well planned strategies, missions, visions and objectives, Apple can be considered as an organization with a minimum amount of weaknesses. However, some of the notable weaknesses of the company include;

  • High prices for its products lock out a huge portion of the market who cannot afford the company’s products. This makes the company’s products out of reach for most customers, hence a weakness it its marketing strategy.
  • The company’s products are incompatible with other devices. This makes it difficult for clients to make a switch from their current devices to adopt Apple products. This also weakens the company’s marketing strategy since it makes it difficult for the customers to integrate Apple’s products with other electronics they use.


  • The company’s global operations open up more opportunities for further expansion in to other markets around the globe.
  • The demand for smartphones, iPhones, and tablets has been on the rise in recent years, enlarging the company’s market.


Threats those are prevalent in the industry are applicable to the Apple as well. The strengths of the organization have been responsible for Apple to be immune to lots of threats from outside.

  • There is a fierce competition in the market. Other companies such as Samsung and Nokia are entering the market with similar products, providing customers with more options for smartphones and tablets.
  • The fluctuations in the global financial situations threaten the survival of the company because it makes it difficult to plan.

2.2: Carry Out an Environmental Audit for a Given Organization

The major 5 components of the forces are

  • Barriers to Entry

Barriers to Entry are the factor which shows the difficulty for any new upcoming brand to enter the market. The various factors which affect the barriers to entry are as bellow:-

  • Time and cost of Entry

Time and cost of entry for any product is very important. If the entry of the product in the market is done when there is already much similar type of products in the market as a competitor. The cost of the product should be compared with the other products in the market. The time and cost of the product while launching the market should be perfect and matching the competition and the market required. If the time and the cost of the product goes wrong it will never be a success.

  • Knowledge

Knowledge of the product should be studied in a detailed manner. It is important to understand the all the factors affecting the growth and success of the product

  • Cost Advantage

Cost Advantage of the product means the cost of the product and what advantage can it provide to the customers in the market. It is very essential to fix an appropriate cost for the product so that it proves to be an advantage for the company.

  • Technology

The technology used to manufacture the new product should be the latest and the new technology. If the technology is not updated it will affect the manufacturing as well as the flow of the product sale.

  • Buyers

Buyers are the people who play a vital role in the organization history. It is important to have a good amount of buyers in the market; it is also important that they are brand loyal and will continue to use the same product.

  • Number of Customers

Numbers of customers in the market decide the growth of the product. It is essential to have a right group of buyers which will create an image for the product in the market. The increasing number of customers will help in the growth of the company.

  • Buying Volumes

   Buying volumes are the customers who help in the retail and wholesale nature of the business. It is necessary for the organization to understand who will do the bulk selling of the product for the organization.

  • Differentiation

Differentiation should be created in the product which will help the customer to understand that your product is different from the other product. Differentiation strategy is the best strategy that can be used by the company while entering in the market.

  • Price Elasticity

Price elasticity means how price elastic can the product be. It is necessary to understand how much a price can be stretch for the buyer.

  • Switching costs

Switching cost is the cost which decides the cost of the product when the customer switches its choice from one product to another product.

  • Suppliers
  • Number of Suppliers

Number of suppliers is the people who will help the product to reach the correct market. When a product is new it is necessary to supply the product in the right market so as to ensure that the customers are aware about the new product entry.

  • Size of Suppliers

                 Size of suppliers’ means how big is the supplier and how can he take risk of keeping the stock of the new product with him. This will decide how big his reach in the market is and how wide can he make the product reach.

  • Ability to substitute

Ability to substitute means the ability of the new product to create a substitute in the minds of the customers. It is necessary for the new product to understand the requirement and the expectations of the customer and to react accordingly.

  • Unique Service

When a new product is launch it is very important that the company provides unique service to the customers with their new product. This will help in creating difference in the minds of customer. Unique service will also include free home delivery service, or cash on delivery etc.

  • Competitive Rivalry

Competitive rivalry means competition creating a difference and a rivalry against your product in the market.

  • Number of competitors

Number of competitors will decide the strength of the competitive rivalry. It is necessary to understand how strong our competitive and how the competitive rivalry will affect their organization are.

  • Exit barriers

Exit barriers means if a company decides to shut down what will be the difficulties that they will have to face during exit. This will include the machinery cost, the cost invested in the manufactured goods etc.

  • Industry concentration

Industry concentration means how the industry concentrates on new product and one product for its success. It is important to understand the correct market where the demand rises for the product. The company should ensure that the market should never have shortage of the product.

  • Diversity of competitors

Diversity of competitors is a factor that shows how diversity of the competitor is affecting the growth of our product.

  • Substitutes

Substitutes of the product are the other products which can take place of our product in case our product cannot fulfil the customers’ expectations. In case of sport shows if Apple is unable in certain market or it proves to be a default there are many other products like Microsoft, LG, and Samsung etc

  • Substitute Performance

A customer uses a substitute in case the current product cannot be available, the substitute performance will decide whether the customer wants to continue with the substitute product or want to come back with the previous product.

  • Cost of switching
  • Buyer willingness

2.3 Significance of stakeholder analysis

Stakeholders are important for any organization. Stakeholder can be defined as a party that affects or can be affected by the actions of the business (Thompson, 2001). Stakeholders can be government, employees, customers, suppliers, creditors, community; trade unions etc. (Thompson, 2001).Stakeholder includes a whole array of parties, which are crucial for an organization. Hence, when new strategies are to be developed for an organization, a clear understanding of its stakeholders is necessary. In order to gain knowledge on an organization’s stakeholders, a stakeholder analysis can be done.

Stakeholder analysis can be defined as “a technique that can be used to identify and assess the importance of key people, groups of people, or institutions that may significantly influence the success of an organization” (Thompson, 2001). As Lynch (1999) points out there are various reasons as to why an organization should conduct a stakeholder analysis. As Lynch (1999) says, they are:

  • To identify people, groups, and institutions that will influence the actions of the organization (either positively or negatively)
  • To anticipate the kind of influence, positive or negative, these groups will have on the organization
  • To develop strategies to get the most effective support possible for the organization and to reduce any obstacles for the successful operations of the organization

Many scholars have pointed out the importance of doing a stakeholder analysis. According to Wilson and Gilligan (2005) advantages of doing a stakeholder analysis can be shown as follows:

  • The organization can use the opinions of the most powerful stakeholders to shape the organization and its initiatives at an early stage. This ensures support as well as quality the organization.
  • Gaining support from powerful stakeholders can help the organization to win more resources
  • One can anticipate what people's reaction to the organization’s actions 

This makes it clear that a stakeholder analysis is important for an organization to operate successfully.

One of the key objectives of organizations is to expand operations and cover greater portions of the market in order to have increased profitability. Therefore, an organization should be ready to expand its business operations whenever such an action seems possible. There are various methods through, which organizations can expand their operations. This section of the report examines the different strategies that Apple, Inc. can use for expansion. Furthermore, this section also proposes an appropriate strategy for the company to use for its future expansion projects.

3.1 Analyze Possible Alternative Strategies Relating to Substantive Growth, Limited Growth or Retrenchment

Growth strategies for businesses can be categorized into three major groups, limited growth, substantive growth and retrenchment. Strategies for limited growth include market penetration, market development, and product development. The strategies for substantive growth include horizontal integration, related diversification, vertical integration and unrelated integration. On the other hand strategies for retrenchment include turnaround and divestment strategies (Bryson, 2011). Apple, Inc. can use these strategies as part of their growth and expansion strategies to help the organization meet its objectives.

Market penetration is a strategy for limited growth, which entails promoting existing products and services within the same market. The main objective here is to increase the market share for a particular brand or company. A company can achieve this by lowering its prices or differentiating its products.

Product development strategy entails expanding a company’s products for instance, through further development where new features will be added to the products (Bryson, 2011).

Market development strategy, on the other hand, involves selling products in a new market. Reasons for this strategy may include seeking a new market with limited competition and room for growth in the market. These limited growth strategies would not be suitable Apple because it already has the largest market share in comparison to its competitors.

Horizontal integration is a substantive growth strategy involving a situation where an organization acquires or creates production units that are similar, either complimentary of competitive in order to create a monopolistic situation in the market. This can happen when a company acquires its competitors within the same industry.

Vertical integration, on the other hand, involves an organization acquiring other companies within its supply chain system.

Related diversification is a substantive growth strategy that involves an organization adding to its product line, similar or related products either through diversifying its production or through acquiring other related products.

Unrelated diversification, on the other hand, occurs when an organization adds to its product line, a different product (Assen, Berg and Pietersma, 2009). Apple, Inc. can use one of these substantive strategies to grow and expand within the expand its market.

There are two main retrenchment strategies that a company can use to facilitate its growth. 

Turnaround strategy involves an organization backing out of an earlier strategic decision in order to reverse the process of decline in the company.

Divestment strategy, on the other hand, involves the sale or liquidation of a portion of business, or a major division, profit centre or SBU. Divestment is usually a restructuring plan and is adopted when a turnaround has been attempted but has proved to be unsuccessful or it was ignored.

Implementation is the most critical stage in strategic planning. Organizations should exploit proper methods and strategies in successful implementation of their plans. In this section of the reple developiort, the paper focuses on strategy implementation. Consequently, this section discusses the roles and responsibilities for implementing organizational plans (Courtney, Marnoch, & Williamson, 2009). Therefore, the paper compares the various roles and responsibilities involved in strategy implementation while also discussing the resource requirements and relevant timescales involved in implementing the strategies.

4.1: Compare the Roles and Responsibilities for Strategy Implementation

  • Corporate Level Strategy
Corporate Level strategies are the strategy whichare developed and decided at the corporate level. These strategies basically discuss the corporate level issues,exampng a new product which the competitor is developing. Or understanding the competitor’s product and developing a new product for our organization basis the market demand.
  • Business Level Strategy

Business level strategies are the strategies which are developed at a business level where the decisions of the corporate level are implemented. These strategies discuss about what changes they need to take at different organizational levels to implement the changes. They discuss the business level functions and the changes with the same.

  • Functional Level Strategy

Functional level strategies are the strategies which are developed at every departmental level. All the functional levels like human resource management, Supply chain management, marketing management etc. are the various functions which are taken care of.

4.2 Evaluate Resource Requirements to Implement a New Strategy for a Given Organization

The physical resources include finance resources, production resources, and marketing resources, which are needed for implementing interactive strategies at Apple, Inc. Because these interactive strategies focus on the quality improvements of Apple products, it is advisable to allocate more physical resources on improving product quality. Human resource is also a major requirement for strategy implementation. Apple should develop its human resources by implementing employee training and development activities. Finally, these all these strategy implementation processes are involved with initial start-up cost and Apple should allocate appropriate finances for these implementation activities.

4.3 Discuss Targets and Timescales for Achievement in a Given Organization to Monitor a Given Strategy

Monitoring strategy

Johnson et al (2011) discusses three criteria for monitoring a strategy; acceptability, suitability, and feasibility. Suitability requires one to assess whether proposed strategies address the key issues. Acceptability measures whether proposed strategies meet the expectations of stakeholders. Also feasibility is measured whether strategy could work with in practice.

From the above discussion, Apple will use interactive strategies as its main strategies for the future. These interactive strategies can be monitored by the suitability criteria. Under this criterion it can be monitored that whether Apple’s interactive strategies address the key opportunities and constraints in the organization face (Wittmann and Reuter, 2008). Acceptability criterion can be used to monitor whether implemented strategy meet the expectations of stakeholders. Under this criterion the risk and return also monitored. Feasibility measures whether strategy work in practice. Further, feasibility can be used as to check the targets of the implemented strategies. For an instance, it can be used to measure the finical targets of Apple by implementing interactive strategies.  

Smart objectives






Human Resources

Building the Organization

· Staffing & Training

· Core Competences

·  Developing Org. Structure

· Building core competences,

· developing individual abilities

·  Hone skills with experience


HR Manager


Market development

Strategic partnerships

These strategies will help Apple increase its market share around the globe.



On going

Marketing department

$2.0 M


25 people


In conclusion, strategic planning is an essential element in the success of any business. As seen in the case of Apple Inc. discussed in this paper, strategic planning is a broad concept in organizational planning and management with a host of other intricate issues that need to be addressed comprehensively. Nevertheless, strategic planning is essential for the success of the business. Each organization has to develop its own objectives and goals before aligning its strategic planning ideas ion the direction the organization intends to go in the future.

Apple Inc. should use strategic planning tools discussed in this paper such as the Five Forces model, SWOT analysis, planning techniques and growth strategies. These strategic planning tools will help the company to evaluate its internal and external environment and devise appropriate strategies for strengthening the company and expanding its market share.

Reference List

Assen, M.V., Berg, G.V.D., and Pietersma, P. (2009) Key Management Models:The 60+ Models Every Manager Needs to Know, Pearson Education.

Bryson, J.M. (2011) Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations: A Guideto Strengthening and Sustaining Organizational Achievement, John Wiley and Sons.

Courtney, R., Marnoch, G., & Williamson, A. (2009). Strategic planning and         performance: an exploratory study of housing associations in       Northern Ireland, Financial Accountability & Management, 25, 1, pp. 55-78,             Business Source Complete, EBSCOhost, viewed 1 June 2012

Hitt, M.A., Ireland, R.U., and Hoskisson, R.E. (2010) Strategic Management: Competitiveness and Globalization, Concepts, Cengage Learning

Johnson, G., Whittington, R., and Scholes, K. (2011) Exploring Strategy, Ninth Edition,Prentice Hall.

Leopold, John. &Harris , L., (2009) The strategic managing of human resources, 2nded, Prentice Hall, London.

Marchington, M. & Wilkinson, A., (2006) Core Personnel and Development, IPD Publishing, London.

Poirier, C.C., McCollum, D. (2006) RFID Strategic Implementation and ROI: A Practical Roadmap to Success, J. Ross Publishing.

Sadler, P. (2003) Strategic Management, Kogan Page Publishers.

Thompson, J. L. (2001) Understanding Corporate Strategy, Thomson Learning

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