This article subjects the organizational theory literature on corporate strategy to critical scrutiny, arguing that both the ‘rational’and ‘processual’approaches to strategy generate analyses that are ahistorical and theoretically undeveloped. In their place, but focusing specifically on the financial services, we offer an alternative genealogically informed analysis. This indicates how the historical development of strategy discourses and practices are discontinuous and uneven across countries, sectors, companies and specialist spheres. In addition it suggests that corporate strategy has considerable impact on inter-organizational relations and both ‘internal’(i.e. management and employees) and ‘external’(i.e. consumers) members of the organization. the article seeks to illustrate its arguments both at the sectoral level by examining the development of strategic discourse in banks and insurance companies and at the organizational level by providing some case study material on IT strategy in a life insurance company.