Facilitating the acquisition of strategic skills: The role of traditional and soft managerial skills

Diane H. Parente, John D. Stephan, Randy C. Brown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether managers can acquire strategic skills using management education methods in lieu of experience. It demonstrates that experienced-based pedagogical methods can be effective in developing traditional skills or “hard” skills and “soft” skills such as interpersonal communication, which then facilitate the acquisition of strategic skills. The paper uses data from questionnaires and achievement scores from capstone classes to determine whether exposure to an experiential technique called large-scale simulation can lead students to acquire traditional, soft and strategic managerial skill sets. The results show that soft and traditional skills are complementary and together lead to better acquisition of strategic skills and also imply that mastering soft skills may enhance the mastery of traditional skills. A limitation of the research stems from the use of students as research subjects. While this limits generalizability, it is important to remember that many such students go on to be successful managers in large and small organizations, partly due to their educational background. Replicating these findings with graduate and executive students is required. A key practical implication is that organizations may be able to effectively supplement their own experienced-based developmental efforts for their managerial personnel with course-based learning. The paper's findings support an option for many firms, although this has not received much direct empirical support. Additionally, the results support the increasing emphasis placed on soft skills, suggesting that development of strategic skills may help managers grasp the bigger-picture implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1004-1028
Number of pages25
JournalManagement Research Review
Issue number11
StatePublished - Sep 28 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Business, Management and Accounting


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