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Strategy implementation: What is the failure rate?

  • Carlos J F Cândido (a1) and Sérgio P Santos (a1)

It is often claimed that 50–90% of strategic initiatives fail. Although these claims have had a significant impact on management theory and practice, they are controversial. We aim to clarify why this is the case. Towards this end, an extensive review of the literature is presented, assessed, compared and discussed. We conclude that while it is widely acknowledged that the implementation of a new strategy can be a difficult task, the true rate of implementation failure remains to be determined. Most of the estimates presented in the literature are based on evidence that is outdated, fragmentary, fragile or just absent. Careful consideration is advised before using current estimates to justify changes in the theory and practice. A set of guiding principles is presented for assisting researchers to produce better estimates of the rates of failure.

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