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Strategy and the 5Ps

Henry Mintzberg is a Canadian-born academic who researched into and subsequently wrote books on strategy, management, organisations and their relationship.

Mintzberg developed the 5Ps of strategy, rejecting a single definition of strategy, and providing five different perspectives of a strategy, which when combined is seen to provide a sturdier and more robust end product, reflecting the overall content of a strategy.

The 5Ps, with their explanations, are as follows:

Illustration of the 'f Ps' Plan, Ploy, Pattern, Position, Perspective

(Adapted from Mintzberg 1987)

5Ps Explanation
Plan The course of action that is to be followed taking a company from where it is now to where it wants to be; developed in advance and with a purpose.
Ploy Ploys are specific tactics employed to remain ahead of competitors; seen as short-term in nature and a strategy solely aimed at beating competitors.
Pattern Considers what behaviour has worked before and then deciding whether to continue and/or improve.
Position Identifies where a company is relative to its competitors.
Perspective Influences the personality and culture of the organisation, sharing it within and beyond the organisation usually through its vision and values, along with the blueprint to realise that vision.

Your task

Strategies can be time-consuming and expensive to develop, deliver, implement, monitor and improve. They are therefore most often seen at large multinational corporations.

Although strategies are often internal documents to a company, the company’s values, mission, culture, aims and objectives are not.

Compare the public face of these two well-known global organisations and state which approach you prefer and why.

If, in the course of researching and investigating this task, you find a more preferred approach, post it to the discussion board and provide the source of the information.

Further information

You can further your understanding by watching the video ‘Mintzberg’s 5Ps’.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

Please note that this video contains no speech, it contains visual information only.


Mintzberg, H. (1987) ‘The Strategy Concept I: Five Ps for Strategy’. California Management Review 30 (1), 11-24

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This article is from the free online course:

Business Strategy: The Art of Looking into the Future

Coventry University