A Global History of the Practice of Strategy


The word strategy itself derives from the Greek strategos, meaning general. The word strategía in its modern meaning only came into use in the sixth century, in the East Roman (Byzantine) Empire, and was only translated into Western vernacular languages towards the end of the eighteenth.  If we stick to the letter and claim that strategy only existed once the word “strategy” was used, we must exclude all of Ancient History and all of Western European history before the late 18th century when Byzantine Emperor Leo VI’s work using this term strategía was first translated into French and German (and sometime later into English and Russian etc) as stratégieStrategie. Also, most of the non-Western world would be left out. (To this day it is hotly debated whether any one Japanese word appropriately reflects the modern meaning of the term strategy.)  By contrast, if we define strategy, along with the classicist Kimberly Kagan, as ‘the setting of a state’s objectives and of priorities among those objectives’ in order to allocate resources and choose the best means to prosecute a war, then we can see ‘strategy’ as having been practiced the world over, and for very much longer than the word has been used in Western vernacular languages.

With this approach, we are putting together contributions ranging from Ancient China and India to the Present, drawing on written but also archaeological evidence, taking into account different cultural approaches. 


Professor Beatrice Heuser (International Relations, University of Glasgow)

Professor Isabelle Duyvesteyn (University of Leiden)

Plus 50 experts the world over

Project Dates: 

Beginning January 2020, for completion in 2022


Initial conference to be hosted by Netherlands Defence Academy


Editors Isabelle Duyvesteyn and Beatrice Heuser: The Cambridge History of the Practice of Strategy 2 vols, for publication in 2022

Related publications:

Beatrice Heuser: Strategy before Clausewitz: Linking Warfare and Statecraft, 1400-1830 (Abingdon: Routledge, 2017)

Beatrice Heuser: The Evolution of Strategy: Thinking War from Antiquity to the Present (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010)

Beatrice Heuser (ed & trs): The Strategy Makers: Thoughts on War and Society from Machiavelli to Clausewitz (Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger-ABC Clio, 2010)

Subnational development cooperation: A new research agenda

For more than 70 years, wealthy nations around the world have been providing Official Development Assistance (ODA)—also known as ‘foreign aid’—to address the persistent challenge of global poverty. In analyzing aid policy, scholars have assumed that donor countries are unitary actors. However, rather than being controlled by a central government, foreign aid nowadays is given by various layers of government, potentially for different reasons and with different policy priorities. While taking this diversity of actors into account would yield a more accurate depiction of contemporary foreign aid practices, our knowledge about subnational development cooperation is extremely limited. How important is subnational aid compared to central government aid? Why do subnational policymakers formulate their own aid policies rather than delegating them to central governments? Which development priorities do subnational governments pursue and in which beneficiary countries? Do subnational actors collaborate primarily with other local governments in developing countries? Absent any systematic inquiry on these issues, our proposed project seeks to start addressing some of these knowledge gaps. This project will pilot comparative research into subnational development cooperation programs, using the Scottish government as its central case but also looking further afield at other European regions. Through semi-structured elite interviews, the project will help understand why subnational governments become aid donors and which factors explain their aid allocation patterns. The project will also be the first to collect systematic information on subnational providers of foreign aid that will enable future large-N analysis.


Dr Bernhard Reinsberg (Principal Investigator, University of Glasgow)

Dr Sebastian Dellepiane (Co-Investigator, University of Strathclyde)

Maitland Murray (Research Assistant, University of Glasgow)

Project Dates 

November 2019 – May 2021


Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland (GBP 13,748)


Dissemination conference in Glasgow (scheduled for May 2020)