Colin S. Gray

in The Practice of Strategy

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199608638
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731754 | DOI:

Show Summary Details


In the concluding chapter, Colin Gray examines the dynamics between strategic theory and strategic practice, identifying continuities and changes in strategic experience. He claims that the practice of strategy, singular, considered as a function, is an eternal, universal, essential, and therefore unavoidable feature of human life. Because humans have always practised strategy, a single, unified general theory must have pertained throughout all of history—and will continue to do so. After discussing the enduring function of strategy and the importance of theory, Gray proposes a general theory of strategy in the form of twenty‐one dicta, divided into four categories: nature and character of strategy, developing strategy, executing strategy, and consequences of strategy. He then illustrates the interplay between strategy and its expression as strategies applied in actual warfare, showing the decisive importance of an appropriate overall strategy and the tragedy that can result from adherence to a flawed strategy.

Keywords: strategic theory; strategic practice; strategy; general theory of strategy; Clausewitz; policy; continuity vs. change; history; First World War

Chapter.  6619 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.