Abstract: The Changing Portrait of the Strategist: Skills, Qualities, and Qualifications in France and the United Kingdom, 1965-2000s
Strategic planning was born as a management practice during the interwar years in the United States and spread widely there among large enterprises after World War II. Following the well-described pattern of Americanization, it expanded in Europe in the 1960s. According to Henry Mintzberg, the practice declined in the United States after the mid-1970s, because it was not able to adapt to a changing competitive environment. Corporate planning had supposedly transformed itself into a self-serving bureaucratic process with no relevance to reality. This paper challenges that vision of the extinction of strategic planning. Relying particularly on job advertisements analysis, business archive research, and interviews with former practitioners, we argue that there has been both change and continuity in strategic planning practice over the last five decades, and that the practice is still present in many large-scale enterprises in Europe and elsewhere. In that respect, this paper is a business history paper that claims to bring a better understanding of current issues in strategic planning.