Chapter

The Theory of Strategy, I: Enduring Nature, Changing Character

Colin S. Gray

in The Strategy Bridge

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780199579662
Published online September 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191594458 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199579662.003.0002
The Theory of Strategy, I: Enduring Nature, Changing Character

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The strategist is armed with a set of nine basic questions, the historically specific answer to which enables him to do his job. Probably his three most important questions are (a) what is it about? (b) so what? and (c) what are the alternatives and what are their costs/benefits? There is only one general theory of strategy, even though there can be any number of strategies unique to historical circumstances. Definitions matter if we are to understand what it is we are talking about. The language of strategy, including the word itself, has altered over the centuries (and from one language to another), but the function of strategy has been constant (purposefully connecting ends, ways, and means). The general theory of strategy explains the structure and working of the whole field of strategy, including the contexts that enable it and provide its purposes. The theory can be understood as comprising twenty dicta, the most important of which, summarized naked by subject, pertain to the bridging function; political instrumentality; force in grand strategy; controlling the enemy; deception and paradox; people; contexts; its permanent nature, but changing character.

Keywords: strategy; context; dicta; general theory

Chapter.  19861 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: International Relations

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