Book Review of Business Policy and Strategy: An Action Guide

Submitted in partial fulfillment of B.S. in Business Administration
Century University, New Mexico
Grade = 95% A}

Business Policy and Strategy: An Action Guide, by Robert Murdick, R.
Carl Moor and Richard H. Eckhouse, attempts to tie together the broad policies
and interrelationships that exist among the many functional areas which
undergraduate students typically study. The authors intend the text to
supplement the typical case book and/or computer simulations used in teaching
business strategy (ix). Situational analysis is presented, as is a structure
for developing strategy. Practicality and real world experience is combined
with educational theory to provide as complete a picture as possible of strategy
in business.
The authors have divided the text into 15 chapters with no further
subdivisions. It is possible, however, to group the chapters into specific areas
of study. For example, the first chapter, "Business Failure -- Business
Success," examines why businesses fail, and provides the reason for continuing
with the remainder of the text. The next two chapters focus on the "field of
action," including the business environment and the business system. The fourth
and fifth chapters introduce strategic management (chapter 4) and the struggle
not only to survive, but to prosper using strategic management (chapter 5).
Chapters Six through Nine address specific functional areas (marketing,
accounting/finance, production, and engineering/research and development).
Chapters 10 and 11 introduce the reader to the problems of managing human
resources (chapter 10) and data processing resources (chapter 11). The last
four chapters discuss the issues involved with analyzing business situations.
Multinational business analysis is the subject of chapter 12, while chapter 13
turns the reader\'s attention to how to conduct an industry study. Chapters 14
and 15 focus on how to analyze a case and illustrations of case analysis,
respectively. The text concludes with an appendix of symbols used by those who
evaluate reports and a general index to topics within the book. The authors make
good and frequent use of charts, graphs, forms and other graphic techniques to
illustrate their points. Each chapter concludes with a selected bibliography
that the student may use for additional research. The book is printed entirely
in black ink; the use of color for key concepts would have enhanced the book\'s
value as a teaching text. Visually, the book is crowded without much white
space for readers to make notes. Key concepts could also have been separated
from supporting text in a more clear manner. While each chapter has a summary,
they do not have an introduction or a listing of key words of concepts that the
student should learn as a result of studying each chapter. Such aids would make
the book more valuable and enhance the learning experience of readers. Chapter 1
examines why some businesses fail and why others succeed. The first sentence in
the book states exactly where the authors stand on the issue: "Businesses fail
because managers fail" (1). The authors present a chart that illustrates how
businesses large and small can both have "relatively short successful life
spans" (1) Reasons for the ultimate failure are presented in this chart, and the
authors go into greater detail in the text. Fundamentally, the authors find that
managers in business are unable to determine what action to take, or are unable
to implement the necessary action once they have identified it. The reasons
for these shortcomings are many, but the authors find that managers may be
unable to differentiate between problems and symptoms. To help their readers
overcome this problem and successfully manage one or more businesses, Murdick,
Moor and Eckhouse identify five points that they address in the remaining 14
chapters. One, they present the field of action in which managers must operate.
Two, they describe common major problems that must be identified and solved in
order for firms to prosper. Three, they present a framework for determining a
unified sense of direction. Four, they give a brief account of policies and
problems in the major functional areas of business. Five, they give detailed
case and analysis tools to enhance the reader\'s ability to identify complex
business problems. Chapter 1 concludes with a list of business failures and
their causes of 1987, helping the student to understand the importance of
strategic management in the success or failure of a company (4). In Chapter 2,
the authors move to consider the field of action, or the arena in which business
executives and businesses operate. Chapters 2 and 3 focus on this field of
action, with chapter 2 looking at the environment of the business system.
Murdick, Moor and Eckhouse