Cancelled: Plans are Worthless, But Planning is Everything: A Resurrection of the Study of Grand Strategic Planning



Nina Silove, ETH Zurich


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This event has been cancelled.  It will be rescheduled  at a later date.


About the Event: “Strategic planning,” so-called, is a practice into which states, firms, universities, and many other large organizations regularly invest substantial resources. The study of strategic planning is, however, mostly absent in the academy. Strategic planning had its heyday as a field of study in the three or four decades following World War II, mostly in the discipline of strategic management, but research on the subject has steadily declined in volume since the mid-1980s. Much of the contemporary literature on strategy, including on states’ grand strategies, has focused on strategy content – explaining its causes, effects, or the relative merits of competing proposals – rather than on strategy process. This book project undertakes an intellectual history that aims to explain the apparent disconnect between the on-going, widespread, real-world practice of strategic planning and the decline in scholarly research on the subject. Based on this history, this book proposes a new conceptual framework and methodology for multidisciplinary research on strategic planning, and discusses its particular application to the study of grand strategy in the discipline of international relations. These concepts and methods are applied two cases of US strategic planning: The planning of the so-called “pivot to Asia” and the planning of the Air-Sea Battle operational concept.


About the Speaker: Dr. Nina Silove is a Senior Researcher at the Center for Security Studies (CSS) at ETH Zurich. Her research focuses on grand strategy, strategic planning, and US policy toward the Asia-​Pacific.

Nina holds a DPhil (PhD) in International Relations from the University of Oxford and a degree in law with first class honors from the University of Technology, Sydney. Previously, she was the Tutor for International Politics in Diplomatic Studies at the University of Oxford, a Predoctoral Research Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs in the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Clements Center for National Security at the University of Texas at Austin, a Research Fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford University, and Assistant Professor in the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at The Australian National University, where she remains a Non-​Resident Fellow.

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