Distinction between Strategy and Tactics

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Distinction between Strategy and Tactics


1. The level of Conduct.

As discussed earlier, the strategy is developed at the highest level of management either at the headquarter or at major divisional offices and related exclusively to decisions in the province of these levels. Tactics are employed at and relate to lower levels of management.

2. Periodicity.

The formulation of strategy is both continuous and irregular. The process is continuous but the timing of the decision is irregular as it depends on the appearance of opportunities, new ideas, crisis, management initiative, and other non-routine stimuli. Tactics are determined on a periodic basis by various organisations. A fixed timetable may be followed for this purpose, for example, preparation of budgets at regular intervals.

3. Time Horizon.

The strategy has a long-term perspective; especially the successful strategies are followed for quite long periods. In occasional cases, it may have short-term duration. Thus, depending on nature and requirement, its time horizon is flexible, however, the emphasis is put on long-term. On the other hand, the time horizon of tactics is short-run and definite. The duration is uniform, for example, budget preparation.

4. Uncertainty.

The element of uncertainty is higher in the case of strategy formulation and its implementation. In fact, strategic decisions are taken under the conditions of partial ignorance. Tactical decisions are more certain as these are taken within the framework set by the strategy. Thus, evaluation of tactics is easier as compared to evaluation of a strategy.

5. Information Needs.

The total possible range of alternatives from which a manager can choose his strategic action is greater than tactics. A manager requires more information for arriving at a strategic decision. Since an attempt is made to relate the organisation to its environment, this requires information about the various aspects of the environment. Naturally, the collection of such information will be different. Tactical information is generated within the organisation particularly from accounting procedures and statistical sources.
6. Subjective Values.
The formulation of strategy is affected considerably by the personal values of the person involved in the process. For example, what should be the goals of an organisation is affected considerably by the personal values of the persons concerned. This aspect will be taken for further discussion m this text later. On the other hand, tactics are normally free from such values because this is to .be taken within the context of strategic decisions.

7. Importance.

Strategies are most important factors of an organisation because they decide the future course of action for the organisation as a whole. On the other hand, tactics are of less importance because they are concerned with a specific part of the organisation. This difference, though seems to be simple, becomes important from the managerial action point of view.

8. Type of Personnel Involved in Formulation.

Generally, separate group of managerial personnel are involved m strategy and tactics formulation and their implementation. As discussed earlier, strategic decisions are never delegated below a certain level m the managerial hierarchy. The basic principle m this context is not to delegate below the levels than those possess the perspective required for most effective strategic decisions. Tactical decisions can be taken by personnel at lower levels because these involve the minute implementation of strategic decisions.
Though these differences between strategy and tactics are there, often the lines of demarcation between these two are blurred both conceptually and operationally. At the one extreme end, the differences are crystal clear, as discussed above. But these differences may not always hold true because tactics are generated by strategy and may rightly be called sub-strategy. What is one manager’s strategy is another manager’s tactics and vice-versa? For example, strategies are developed at the headquarters m the strategic planning process. Sub-strategies within this strategic planning may then be pursued by various divisions of the company. Thus, what might be considered tactical plans at the headquarters may be termed as a strategy at the divisional levels. Thus, depending on the level of the organisation, an action may be strategic or tactical.