On the Origins of Strategy


The paper assembles facts about early man’s existence and then, by inference, considers how strategic thinking may have developed. The general stages of man’s development are recorded but, owing to the temporal and geographical diversity of this progress, the emergence of strategic thinking is considered against various formative factors, rather than against a time-line. Man’s early existence would have been concerned with survival, but, under the influence of technological and societal advances, he could, from a more secure base, begin to think into the future and to try to influence events, rather than merely react. Under the influence of what the Greeks termed pleonexia (wanting more), warfare developed and became a major stimulus for the adoption of strategic thinking, although this could not be achieved without the use of writing and mathematics to provide a cognitive framework. Throughout the paper, reference is made to modern theories of strategy as found in management literature, where parallels are observed. The paper concludes that the employment of strategic thinking was gradual, but closely allied to societal and political developments.

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