Strategy misconceptions debunked in new book by ESSEC Business School’s Professor Jérôme Barthelemy

myths of strategy

As his latest book ‘Myths of Strategy‘ publishes, we speak with Professor Jérôme Barthelemy from ESSEC Business School and take a closer look at his decision to tackle challenge strategy-speak, banish management hyperbole and discard the worst myths and misconceptions in business today. 

Jérôme BarthelemyJérôme Barthélemy is Executive Vice-President, Dean for Post Experience Programs, Corporate Programs and Relations and Professor of strategy and management at ESSEC Business School.

He holds a PhD from HEC Paris and has been a visiting professor and visiting research scholar at New York University (NYU), Stanford University and Cambridge University. His research has appeared in top academic journals and practitioner-oriented outlets.

With a previous book achieving France’s best management book award in 2017, we asked Professor Barthelemy about his new book as he seeks to replace myths of strategy with tried-and-tested truths that will make companies more successful. Here’s what he had to say:

Tell us about your new book ‘Myths of Strategy’!

The objective of Myths of Strategy is to debunk common misconceptions about strategy. It is the end-product of ten years of work. Unlike many other strategy books, it doesn’t reflect unfounded opinions or beliefs. Instead, it is grounded in findings from the (best) research. It has been written based on reference to over 150 academic articles and books, whittled down from an original list ten times as long.

Why did you decide to write this book?

Universities and business schools all over the world have been investing in strategy research for years. The result is a considerable pile of published academic articles containing cutting-edge ideas. Unfortunately, these ideas remain largely in academia and do not make it into the business world. Although strategy research remains unnoticed, it is bursting with findings that could benefit the corporate world. Better still, these findings challenge many generally accepted ideas and myths. My objective was to make them available to a broader audience.

Who should read this book?

The book is likely to appeal to most business executives and managers. Books on strategy typically discuss a small quantity of ideas over a large number of pages. Since business executives and managers are always short of time, I decided it was better to present a large quantity of ideas over a (relatively) small number of pages. In addition, this book isn’t necessarily meant to be read from cover to cover. Each myth is intended to be useful in its own right. You can read them separately, or as part of the whole.

Please give us a taster – what’s a myth that really needs to be addressed?

CEOs often complain that their firm’s costs are too high. The opposite is more likely to be true. Costs are too low to develop a sufficiently differentiated product offering, which would help them escape from price-based competition. Hence, the question CEOs should be asking themselves is not: ‘Are my firm’s costs too high?’ but rather ‘Are my firm’s costs too low?’

See more articles by Stephanie Mullins.