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Key Terms in Strategic Management

Before we further discuss strategic management, we should define eight key terms:

  • strategists,
  • mission statements,
  • external opportunities and threats,
  • internal strengths and weaknesses,
  • long-term objectives,
  • strategies,
  • annual objectives,
  • and policies.


Strategists are individuals who are most responsible for the success or failure of an organization. Strategists are individuals who form strategies.  
Vision Statements
Many organizations today develop a "vision statement" which answers the question, what do we want to become? Developing a vision statement is often considered the first step in strategic planning, preceding even development of a mission statement. Many vision statements are a single sentence.

Mission Statements

Mission statements are "enduring statements of purpose that distinguish one business from other similar firms. A mission statement identifies the scope of a firm's operations in product and market terms. It addresses the basic question that faces all strategists: What is our business? A clear mission statement describes the values and priorities of an organization.

External Opportunities and Threats

External opportunities and external threats refer to economic, social, cultural, demographic, environmental, political, legal, governmental, technological, and competitive trends and events that could significantly benefit or harm an organization in the future. Opportunities and threats are largely beyond the control of a single organization, thus the term external.

Internal Strengths and Weaknesses/Internal assessments

Internal strengths and internal weaknesses are an organization's controllable activities that are performed especially well or poorly. They arise in the management, marketing, finance/accounting, production/operations, research and development, and computer information systems activities of a business. Identifying and evaluating organizational strengths and weaknesses in the functional areas of a business is an essential strategic-management activity. Organizations strive to pursue strategies that capitalize on internal strengths and improve on internal weaknesses.

Long-Term Objectives

Objectives can be defined as specific results that an organization seeks to achieve in pursuing its basic mission.
Long-term objectives represent the results expected from pursuing certain strategies. Strategies represent the actions to be taken to accomplish long-term objectives. The time frame for objectives and strategies should be consistent, usually from two to five years.


Strategies are the means by which long-term objectives will be achieved. Business strategies may include geographic expansion, diversification, acquisition, product development, market penetration, retrenchment, divestiture, liquidation, and joint venture.

Annual Objectives

Annual objectives are short-term milestones that organizations must achieve to reach long-term objectives.
Like long-term objectives, annual objectives should be measurable, quantitative, challenging, realistic, consistent, and prioritized. They should be established at the corporate, divisional, and functional levels in a large organization.


Policies are the means by which annual objectives will be achieved. Policies include guidelines, rules, and procedures established to support efforts to achieve stated objectives. Policies are guides to decision making and address repetitive or recurring situations.

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