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