This article offers a contextualization of strategy in the intellectual history of the early twentieth century. In particular, the Marshall-inspired contributions of Austin Robinson and Dennis Robertson are examined as possible precursors of strategy, with special attention to the industrial organization view as principally developed by Michael Porter, notably with his seminal Competitive Strategy. The aim of this examination, which includes a comparative analysis, is to deepen the historical roots of strategy, an interdisciplinary field that emerged in the 1960s. Marshall’s Principles and Industry and Trade are obviously and significantly influential for Robinson and Robertson. Marshall’s memorable, if not definitive, phrase “tendency to variation” not only reflects the dynamic nature of business reality but the essence of strategy, which Porter aptly stated is firms “being different.”

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