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The Learning Conference 2003

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Failure to Integratively Balance Structured and Unstructured Thinking: An Emerging and Important Aspect in Teaching Business Management

Dr Robert J. Mockler.

The experiences described in this paper illustrate not only a systematic balanced strategic leadership and management process at work in a variety of ways in companies and in teaching environments. They also show the wide range of competencies (especially entrepreneurial) skills and underlying strategic values and principles companies and their managers, as well as teachers of strategic management, need to be successful. The objective of this paper is first to describe how successful leaders continually try to balance structured and unstructured approaches and thinking, as well as how the failure to balance them has led especially recently to many burst financial bubbles, such as those in the Dot.Com, fiber optics, and 3G mobile telecommunications areas. The paper then explains how these successes and failures and the lessons learned from them have been used to effectively teach strategic business management on the collegiate and professional level.

Over the past ten years, the author has developed a variety of highly individualized approaches to teaching strategic decision making and management. Essentially, these approaches, which are described in the paper, build on structured situation diagnoses from which the strategic concepts gradually emerge through structured, as well as unstructured innovative/creative, thinking. Such a balanced approach continues during the doing phases, as strategies are carried out within the structured, but flexible, situation requirements. Specific ways to guide this learning process in a classroom environment which replicates 'on the job' realities are discussed in the paper.


Dr Robert J. Mockler  (United States)
Joseph F. Adams Professor of Management
Graduate Division Tobin College of Business
St. John's University

Dr. Robert J. Mockler is Joseph F. Adams Professor of Management at St. John’s University’(BA/MBA Harvard; Ph.D. Columbia). He has authored/co-authored over 50 books/monographs, 200 case studies, and 250 articles, book chapters, and presentations, translations of which have appeared in French, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, and Romanian. He has lectured, consulted, and taught MBA courses worldwide, received national innovative teaching awards, and been a Fulbright Scholar.

  • Management Learning
  • Strategic Leadership
  • Entrepreneurial Management Skills
  • Contingency Management
  • Multinational Strategic Management
Person as Subject
  • Managers Teachers of Strategic Management

(Virtual Presentation, English)