Critique of the Strategic Schools of Thought

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My colleague’s identification of the University of Phoenix’s approach to the formation as being part of the Planning School is fitting, yet not complete. After formal and rigorous steps were taken that analyzed the market at that time, the university executed a plan that revolved around assisting adults with full-time careers that also wanted to expand their education through online learning. There was a clear goal that enabled them to have initial control over the market, which is a key component of this strategy (Mintzberg, Ahlstrand, & Lampel, 2009).

After further discussion, my colleague states that she would adopt the Positioning School format in order to increase sustainability in the more competitive market. Based on previous observations surrounding the university’s efforts to create and implement new curricula in order to retain and increase their portion of this field, it appears that the University of Phoenix has already begun to blend their Planning School format with the Positioning School. This school of thought focuses on how to improve a company’s position in the market (Mintzberg, Ahlstrand, & Lampel, 2009) which appears to be ongoing as they change with the times. However, her suggestions to incorporate stakeholder feedback in order to inhibit the school from becoming static and obsolete is a welcome reminder that the positioning format can be extended to better assist the University of Phoenix in grabbing a larger portion of this marketplace.

The interpretations of the current schools of thought used at the University of Phoenix were insightful and spoke to many of the key points in the theories. As strategic planning in higher education needs to continuously be creative and challenge current norms (Dooris, Kelley, Trainer, 2002), the flexibility that is highlighted through the current planning process and proposed changes emphasize the need for flexibility to keep hold of the market. It is clear that with an additional push, the University of Phoenix can move from plan to implementation and blend both models, which reduces the likelihood of the university becoming static and obsolete.


Dooris, M.J., Kelley, J.M., & Trainer, J.F. (2002). Strategic planning in higher education. New Directions for Higher Education, 116, 5-11.

Mintzberg, H., Ahlstrand, B., Lampel, J. (2009). Strategy safari: The complete guide through the wilds of strategic management. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall.