Exploring Corporate Strategy by Gerry Johnson, Kevan Scholes and Richard Whittington

by Paul Simister on March 8, 2011

Exploring Corporate Strategy by Gerry Johnson, Kevan Scholes and Richard Whitington is a core text in many of the UK MBA courses and whilst it is now in the 8th edition and I read it some time ago, I was overwhelmed by how dull it was.

Exploring Corporate Strategy

Exploring Corporate Strategy is a strategy text book and in my view is not suitable for small business owners who want to improve their strategy skills.


To be fair to the authors, the book is written for students rather than practitioners.

My Experience With Exploring Corporate Strategy

I bought this book because I assumed that it must be great because so many universities were using it but I was very glad that my MBA course, from the Manchester Business School, used Robert Grant’s book “Contemporary Strategy Analysis“.

I don’t think Exploring Corporate Strategy anywhere near as good as “Competitive and Corporate Strategy” by Cliff Bowman and David Faulkner which is an under-rated classic.

I rate the book at the three star level – OK but not a book I can recommend you buy.

I tore out a few pages to keep and threw away the rest of the book.

The emphasis is much more on the process of corporate strategy than what corporate strategy involves.

If Exploring Corporate Strategy Is Your Set MBA Strategy Text…

I don’t think you’ve got any choice, I think you’ve got to read the book because your course will be designed around it.

If you are particularly interested in strategy, I do recommend that you go out and find yourself another textbook to complement it. And especially if you’re a mature MBA student with profit responsibility for a business who has a chance to apply the key strategy ideas.

When I did a side by side comparison, which was some years ago, I much preferred Robert Grant’s Contemporary Strategy Analysis but take time on Amazon or in your local book store and try to find a strategy book to capture your imagination.

the Michael Porter classics are well worth looking at and must reads if you want to specialise in strategy. The cases/examples are old but the thinking that has gone into these books is still stunning and very comprehensive – click the links to see my detailed reviews.

Competitive Strategy Michael Porter

Competitive Advantage Michael Porter

If you have access to the Harvard Business Review, there are plenty of very readable, classic strategy articles which again may help you to connect with the subject.

It is such an important subject – and from what I hear, a difficult exam to do well in, that you owe it to yourself to master it.

If Exploring Corporate Strategy Isn’t Your MBA Text

Hopefully you’ve got a good replacement which makes strategy interesting, because it is. Take a look at Exploring Corporate Strategy in a book shop and make your own mind up. It is very popular so plenty of strategy professors see something good about the book that eluded me.

I didn’t like Exploring Corporate Strategy and was very disappointed with it.

What Do You Think Of Exploring Corporate Strategy?

Strangely the reviews on Amazon for the different versions of Exploring Corporate Strategy are very positive.

On Amazon.co.uk, there are 13 reviews for Exploring Corporate Strategy with 12 of them giving the book a five star rating.

If you want or have to buy this book as part of your study of strategy, please take care about which edition you buy as it is regularly updated and there are various versions. Book stores may have old copies and even on Amazon you can find yourself buying an old edition because it appears first in the search.

Am I wrong about Exploring Corporate Strategy? If you liked it, then what makes it so special?

Paul Simister is a differentiation expert who helps small business owners to profit from differentiating their businesses, being distinctive in the eyes of their customers and standing out in a crowded marketplace.

You too can move past your profit tipping point by answering the seven big questions of business success.

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