What Is Emergent Strategy? With Benefits and Examples

Planned and Emergent Strategy (Mintzberg)

Emergent strategy vs. strategic planning

Setting and adhering to a strategic plan to accomplish business goals is the opposite of using emergent strategies for a business. A benefit and a drawback of strategic planning is that it doesn’t take into account changes in a company’s operations or performance the way an emergent strategy does. Due to unforeseen circumstances, businesses frequently benefit from a combination of planned and emergent strategies to accomplish their objectives and change with the environment.

What is emergent strategy?

A business strategy that emerges over time as a company balances its objectives with evolving conditions is referred to as an emergent strategy by author Henry Mintzberg. These tactics appear after a company performs a set of tasks repeatedly to establish a pattern in its behaviors. Due to the pattern of an emergent strategy being by definition unintended, it differs from deliberate strategy in business. Unexpected situations like those listed below can call for emergent strategies:

Why use emergent strategy?

When a business adopts procedures to deal with shifting conditions, an emergent strategy may be the logical outcome. Organizations that adopt emergent strategy can make plans, visions, and decisions based on the power of change rather than a predetermined business strategy. As a result, companies may be able to adopt novel procedures after some initial failure.

Emergent strategies can be unpredictable, but they can also give businesses a chance to better serve customer needs and respond to changing circumstances. Businesses that have the flexibility to adapt can find new uses for their products and weather financial hardship by utilizing emergent strategies.

What are the elements of emergent strategy?

The tenets of emergent strategy in business are listed below:

Benefits of emergent strategy

Here are the advantages to using emergent strategy in business:

Examples of emergent strategy in business

Below are examples of businesses adopting emergent strategies:

Example 1

An employee at a clothing manufacturing facility observes that the standard procedure used by the business to cut patterns from fabric results in fabric waste. The employee creates a new method to produce three garments from a quantity of fabric that would only produce two garments according to the company’s process. The garment worker informs their manager and coworkers about the effectiveness, and the production facility adopts the emerging tactic of using less fabric to produce more garments.

Example 2

The coronavirus pandemic causes financial uncertainty for a gym that provides personal training and group exercise classes. The circumstance forces the small business to adopt an emerging tactic: providing outdoor classes that enable customers to exercise with a significantly lower risk of becoming ill. A higher consumer demand for secure ways to exercise and socialize during uncertain times has led to the business’s adoption of an emergent strategy, which enables it to expand operations and maintain financial stability.

Example 3

Children between the ages of 10 and 16 are the company’s target market for its game-focused mobile apps. A significant uptick in downloads and purchases from a new market segment—women between the ages of 40 and 50—is observed by the company’s marketing department. The marketing department conducts market research and discovers that older consumers enjoy playing games that are straightforward and visually appealing. The business creates an innovative strategy for branding and marketing the game to older audiences, and downloads of the game significantly increase as a result.

An emergent strategy was advantageous for the company in this situation because, had it followed its strategic plan for marketing the app to children, it would not have learned about the chance to seize a new market.


What does emergent strategy mean?

The principles of emergent strategy include:
  • fractal.
  • adaptation.
  • interdependence and decentralization.
  • nonlinear and iterative change.
  • transformative justice and resilience.
  • creating more possibilities.

What is an example of an emergent strategy?

Here are her core principles of emergent strategy:
  • The large is a reflection of the small, so small is good.
  • Change is constant (Be like water)
  • There is always enough time for the right work. …
  • Never a failure, always a lesson.
  • Trust People (people who you trust will become trustworthy)

What are the characteristics of an emergent strategy?

An emergent strategy is a pattern of behavior that forms over time in an organization without or in opposition to a clear mission and set of goals. Emergent strategy is sometimes called realized strategy. An intended strategy differs from an emergent strategy or realized strategy.

Why emergent strategy is important?

How to cite “Emergent strategy” by Adrienne Brown
  1. APA. Brown, A. (2017). Emergent strategy. AK Press.
  2. Chicago. Brown, Adrienne. 2017. Emergent Strategy. Edinburgh, Scotland: AK Press.
  3. MLA. Brown, Adrienne. Emergent Strategy. AK Press, 2017.

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