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On the Precipice of a Revolution with Hamel and Prahalad

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This paper offers an analysis of Hamel and Prahalad's 'Competing for the Future' under the headings of rhetoric, metaphor and language.

The authors seek through careful positioning to establish their claims to be like the pioneers of business strategy. They position themselves as medical professionals (healers), truth-seekers, knowledge-bringers, scientists, pioneers, new age scholars, authorities by virtue of their managerial interactions, and hard-working strategic toolmakers. The book itself is positioned as a unique creation and the readers, flatteringly, as fearless and heterodox leaders.

The book uses two main metaphors, those of a race and of construction work. Metaphors are used unimaginatively and their links with the main concepts of the book create confusion, as they have not been fully worked out.

Despite the authors' claims, the book is not about thinking – in fact it shows considerable naïveté about the relationships between language and thought.

The analysis suggests that the book can be understood as a positioning exercise for the authors, and that it presents a confused and unhelpful approach to thinking about business strategy.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 2000

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