Building-blocks of strategic

management
A multi-dimensional, pan-theoretical
taxonomy of business strategies
Mark Fuller
5l Iran·/s Xat/er ln/ters/lv. Anl/gcn/sh. (anada
Abstract
Purpose – The purpose of this conceptual paper is to address the lack of consistent means through
which business strategies are identified and discussed across theoretical perspectives in the field of
business strategy.
Design/methodology/approach – A stakeholder-based approach is used to facilitate the
standardized referencing of strategies at the business-level of analysis.
Findings – A taxonomy is developed that facilitates the identification and naming of business-level
strategies in a pan-theoretical manner. A standardized referencing system is offered to codify the
means by which strategies are identified.
Practical implications – Practitioners are provided a taxonomy for identifying stakeholder
strategies gaps and determining gaps and opportunities.
Originality/value – Key benefits to academics are the improved dialogue in the strategic
management field from empirical findings and conceptual discourse that employ a universal lexicon
for the identification and categorization of business-level strategies. Managers will benefit from a more
transparent strategic design process that reduces ambiguity, aids in identifying and correcting gaps in
strategic planning, and fosters enhanced strategic analysis.
Keywords Stakeholders, Strategic management, Classification
Paper type Conceptual paper
In architecture, great buildings do not appear as the massive edifices they will one day
become. Rather, their origins begin as individual building blocks that lack much
distinction from those employed in buildings of far less grandeur. How these basic
building blocks are connected with one another defines both the intrinsic value of the
structure and the extrinsic relationship to the world around it. One of the difficulties in
strategic management theory, particularly in relation to the comparative analysis of
business strategies, is the metaphoric absence of building blocks: clear, consistent
definitions of business strategies that are analyzable from different theoretical
perspectives. This absence is problematic in an academic sense because it contributes
to the theoretical fragmentation of the strategic management field; theorists from one
tradition may have difficulty expressing business strategies in terms that are
meaningful to those from a different theoretical perspective. It is also problematic in a
practitioner sense because it makes the formulation of business strategies
unnecessarily ambiguous; this ambiguity may inhibit the timely ability of
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
www.emeraldinsight.com/0025-1747.htm
The author wishes to acknowledge the contributions of Dr David Wheeler, Dr Christine Oliver,
Dr Preet Aulakh and Dr Cyril Bouquet toward enhancing this work.
Building-blocks
of strategic
management
5
Management Decision
Vol. 48 No. 1, 2010
pp. 5-16
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited
0025-1747
DOI 10.1108/00251741011014427
practitioners to design strategies to create sustainable competitive advantages that
fully encompass the range of strategic alternatives available.
In response to these issues, this paper develops a pan-theoretical taxonomy of
business strategies based on a detailed review and synthesis of the extant literature.
This research offers a number of important implications to both researchers and
managers alike. Academic researchers will benefit from a consistent approach to the
recognition, identification and referencing of business strategies irrespective of the
theoretical lens employed. Business practitioners will develop better defined business
strategies in a more timely fashion: they will be able to more readily identify oversights
in their planning processes that will enable better formulated strategies which can be
comparatively evaluated within and between firms.
At present, the formulation of a particular business strategy is based upon an
author-specific frame of reference; when described by business academics, that
formulation is then couched in the descriptive norms of the researcher’s chosen
theoretical lens. The terms and language evoked by the researcher’s description may
be dissimilar to the lexicon employed by other researchers, especially those employing
competing theories, even though the tactics by which the strategy is operationalized
may be comparatively similar. A need exists to transparently and consistently define
and label business strategies in ways that are not theoretically contingent, but rather
pan-theoretical in nature.
This paper offers a descriptive taxonomy of business strategies which facilitates
pan-theoretical discussions in the strategic management field and is comprised of three
major sections. The first outlines the central construct of a pan-theoretical taxonomy of
business strategies. In the subsequent section, the taxonomy is leveraged to provide a
means of labelling business strategies in a pan-theoretical manner. The final section
offers a discussion of the incremental benefits of this particular taxonomy t/sa t/s the
extant literature and the contributions to managerial practice.
A taxonomy of business-level strategies
A four-dimensional cube is offered as the central construct of this paper to define the
set of strategies available to firms at the business unit of analysis. These dimensions
specify:
(1) the stakeholders upon which the tactical activities are focused (sla/ehc/der
/n·/us/cn);
(2) the strategic goals of the activity (dcma/n c/te·l/tes);
(3) the form of tactics employed (dcma/n la·l/·s); and
(4) the type of competitive advantage pursued based upon the nature of the activity
(·cmþel/l/te ent/rcnmenl).
It is argued that at the business unit level of analysis, all strategic activity involves
multiple combinations of these four dimensions, which are integrated into ever more
specific and encompassing meta-strategies within the business unit, and across
business units at the corporate strategy level.
As indicated in Figure 1, the first dimension of the taxonomy is the sla/ehc/der
/n·/us/cn dimension. It is posited that all strategic activity at the business-level of
analysis, regardless of the theoretical lens, is directed at one or more stakeholder
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groups. Simple strategies may be direct at a single stakeholder; more complex
strategies may involve interdependent relationships among multiple stakeholders. In
either scenario, a business strategy targets identifiable entities in order to employ
limited resources both efficiently and effectively in the pursuit of business objectives.
For example, according to the strategic positioning framework (Porter, 1979, 1980,
1985), strategies are directed toward achieving a defensible place in the market, which
consists of a definable group of buyers, distributors or consumers. In contrast, the
resource-based view places great emphasis on resource management and skill
development, the focus of which may be particular employees, an internal department,
or a specific supplier (Wernerfelt, 1984; Barney, 1991). Stakeholder theory
disaggregates the firm to the greatest degree in terms of identified actors whose
activities are to be given managerial consideration (Freeman, 1984; Wheeler and
Sillanpa¨a¨, 1997) but as previously stated, stakeholders are an essential component of
all strategic management theories.
While the identification of a stakeholder provides an initial focal point for the
business strategy to be developed, still left unaddressed are the motivations behind the
emergent business strategy and the tactics through which the strategy will be pursued.
The next two dimensions – domain objectives and domain tactics – address these
issues. In writing on the motivations for business objectives, Baysinger (1984)
identified three classifications, which he referred to as strategic domains. He argued
that firms have three generic domain objectives that drive strategic action regardless of
the industry in which they operate:
Figure 1.
A taxonomy for
categorizing
business-level strategies
Building-blocks
of strategic
management
7
(1) the growth or expansion of the firm’s activities (domain management);
(2) the defence or protection of its existing activities (domain defence); and
(3) maintaining the legitimacy of the processes by which the firm engages in
competition (domain maintenance).
These strategic domains are a necessary component of a taxonomy of business
strategies, as all strategies have at a fundamental level one or more of these objectives
as a rationale for a series of business tactics. When these domain objectives are
combined with targeted stakeholder groups, they define the competitive space in which
business strategies evolve and compete with the strategies of their rivals.
For each combination of stakeholder groups and strategic domains, there is a choice
among tactics by which stakeholders may be engaged in the pursuit of business
objectives. While the differences in theoretical doctrine are arguably the most notable
at the tactical level – market-oriented through leveraging aspects of a value chain
(Porter, 1979, 1980), resource and skill-focused according to the tenets of the
resource-based view (Wernerfelt, 1984; Barney, 1991; Collis and Montgomery, 1995), or
stakeholder-centred according to stakeholder theory (Freeman, 1984; Wheeler and
Sillanpa¨a¨, 1997) – there are means available to categorize the application of tactics in a
pan-theoretical manner.
Various authors have previously characterized tactics as either proactive,
accommodative or reactive in terms of the nature of the relationship between
participant stakeholders (Wilson, 1975; Carroll, 1979; Clarkson, 1995). This approach to
the classification of tactics is adopted here because it is both pan-theoretical and
descriptively informative. Whereas various theoretical traditions might focus tactical
business activities around sources of cost leadership or differentiation (Porter, 1979,
1980, 1985), resource acquisition and skill development (Wernerfelt, 1984; Barney,
1991) or a particular stakeholder (Freeman, 1984; Wheeler and Sillanpa¨a¨, 1997), a
common means of categorizing these differing approaches is the nature of the
engagement between members of the firm and the recipients of the tactical action. This
approach is also descriptively useful as it can characterize ex anle, in s/lu or ex þcsl the
nature of the interaction which may shape the behaviour of the firm’s actors with the
various parties involved. This enables each tactic to be focused on achieving a
particular strategic objective regardless of the strategic management theory one
employs. As a consequence, this taxonomy is an addition to, rather than a substitution
for, the work in various theoretical traditions within the strategic management field.
While the subject of a particular business strategy may be one or more stakeholders,
the focus of that activity is centred in one or more of the economic, political or social
realms which comprise the fourth dimension of the taxonomy: the competitive
environment. Traditional strategic management theories often place emphasis on
economic means of obtaining organizational goals with a lingering minimization of
alternative approaches, such as the pursuit of political or social advantages (Miles,
1993; Galbreath, 2006). One common example of economic-centric means of achieving
strategic objectives is the attainment of an attractive market position that achieves a
source of differentiation or cost leadership compared to the strategies employed by
rival firms (Porter, 1980, 1985). Similarly, the resource-based view emphasizes the
acquisition of inimitable, durable and competitively superior resources through which
the firm can eek out enhanced financial performance (Wernerfelt, 1984; Barney, 1991;
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8
Collis and Montgomery, 1995). However, the economic realm need not be the only
environment in which competition among firms occurs: rivalry in the political and
social environments may enable firms to eek out distinctive market positions, acquire
strategically valuable resources or form important networks among similarly
interested stakeholders (Fuller, 2009).
In contrast with economic-centric approaches to strategic competition, other authors
have discussed aspects of business-government and business-society relationships
whereby the goals are not economic but rather politically or socially based (Hillman
and Hitt, 1999; Woolcock and Naryan, 2000; Hillman and Keim, 2001; Keim, 2002; Wu
and Choi, 2004; Hillman, 2005; Galbreath, 2006). Examples of these goals may include a
shift in public policy or a call for action among community members. More complex
strategies may involve the multiple competitive environments as part of a series of
business goals (Fuller, 2009). The specification of the stakeholder(s) involved in a
business strategy highlights the subject of that strategy. With the additional
description of the competitive environment(s) in which the business activity occurs, the
focus of the activity is delineated.
This taxonomy enables the identification of four essential components of a business
strategy: the stakeholder(s) included; the objectives of the strategy; the tactics
employed; and the competitive environments in which the strategy is enacted. It also
exhibits the necessary characteristics of an effective classification system, based on the
criteria of Chrisman el a/ (1988) and Meznar and Nigh (1993). First, it must define
entities into distinct groups: the taxonomy has mutually distinctive taxa within each
and across the four dimensions. Next, it must allow for the generalization of
information within each taxon: the proposed taxonomy is internally homogeneous
within each taxon allowing for comparisons to be made. Further, it must foster the
consistent identification and retrieval of information: tactical business activity may be
collectively exhausted through the use of the proposed taxonomy. In addition, each
taxon should be stable: reclassification of business tactics would only occur with a
change in the actual stakeholder focus, the competitive environment, the domain
objective, or the tactics employed. The taxa have also been appropriately named to
ensure consistency in classification.
The advantages of this taxonomy are that it facilitates comparative analyses within
and across strategic dimensions. Within-taxon comparisons allow practitioners to
consider different tactical options within the same strategic approach to a given
business issue, problem or opportunity. In contrast, across-taxon comparisons
facilitate managerial selection of different policy responses at the strategic level of
analysis. An additional benefit of such a classification system is that it enables the
standardized categorization of strategies from one firm to the next across industry and
geographic divides. A further benefit of developing this taxonomy is that it supports
the innovation of a referencing system for business strategies.
A referencing system for business strategies
One of the benefits of a standardized taxonomy is that it facilitates the development of
an index by which business strategies may be referenced. The ability to itemize these
strategies according to a referencing system and then retrieve similar business
strategies with an identical index reference enhances the ability to compare and
Building-blocks
of strategic
management
9
analyze business strategies within the firm, across firms, and across industries and
geographic boundaries.
There are four components to a strategic referencing system that are of importance:
(1) the stakeholder;
(2) the domain objective;
(3) the domain tactic; and
(4) the relevant competitive environment.
The specification of these four items allow for the identification of a business unit
strategy down to the tactical level of analysis. The stakeholder component associates
the intended business activity with a particular audience in the internal or the external
environment of the firm. The domain objective distinguishes between management,
defence and maintenance motives underlying the firm’s behaviour. The domain tactic
signals whether the action is a proactive, accommodative or reactive approach of the
firm. The competitive environment stipulates the intended basis of competition for the
particular strategy: an economic, political or social competitive advantage. Through
the specification of these four components, one can identify every strategic possibility
within the four dimensional cube as depicted in Figure 1; the total of these possibilities
representing the breadth of strategic alternatives available to a firm’s managers. A
business strategy is the sum of a firm’s individual stakeholder strategies and can be
formulated as follows:
Strategy ¼ S (Stakeholders
n
1
, Domain Objectives
n
1
, Domain Tactics
n
1
, Competitive
Environments
n
1
)
where 5la/ehc/ders refers to the stakeholder(s) for which the strategy is targeted,
Domain Objectives indicates the domain management, domain defense or domain
maintenance goals of the strategy; Domain Tactics specifies the nature of the
engagement by the firm, e.g. proactive, accommodative or reactive; and Competitive
Environment signifies the type of competitive advantage the strategy is meant to
pursue (economic, political, or social).
Sample strategies from the taxonomy can be defined to illustrate the use and
benefits of a strategic referencing system. One example of a business unit strategy
might be the following:
.
5amþ/e slralegv 1. í/nteslcr. managemenl. þrca·l/te. e·cncm/·ì This strategic
reference suggests a series of business activities that are aggressively focused
upon the investment community, the benefits of which are expected to have a
significant focus upon the economic basis of competition and to have an
important impact upon the firm’s economic position. The conversion of a
corporation into an income trust might be one indication of such a strategic
approach. Compare and contrast this strategy with the next strategic reference.
.
5amþ/e slralegv ?. íemþ/cvee. managemenl. þrca·l/te. e·cncm/·ì While the
stakeholder focus has changed, the domain objective, tactical method and basis
of competition remain unchanged. Yet the shift in stakeholders would likely
produce a much different series of business activities than that supported by the
previous strategic reference. As an example, such a strategy might involve the
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10
move from a salaried compensation system to one in which commissions are the
primary form of remuneration.
.
5amþ/e slralegv S. íemþ/cvee. defen·e. þrca·l/te. e·cncm/·ì In this strategy
example, the stakeholder component remains constant but the domain objective
has changed. While the scope of the strategy is unchanged, the scale may vary
with the change in motivation. One could conceive of a leading edge diversity
management system represented by this strategic reference. A proactive
approach to diversity, if effectively implemented, might not only serve as a
means to effectively retain employees and reduce the costs of turnover, but
provide additional economic advantages by enabling employees of diversity to
better engage with customer groups of similar diversity that also provide
economic benefits to the firm.
.
5amþ/e slralegv 4. íemþ/cvee. defen·e. a··cmmcdal/te. e·cncm/·ì By changing
the domain tactic, one implicitly affects the scale and the intent of the business
activities that are expected to result from the strategy. Imagine an industry
where one firm develops a novel diversity management system, as per the
previous example, wherein the organization can significantly enhance how it
leverages the uniqueness of its employees. A rival firm may feel compelled,
perhaps at the behest of its employees, to adopt a similar approach. Yet if the
strategy originated as a result of accommodating the wishes of employees to
have parity in working conditions, rather than from management realizing the
strategic potential of diversity, the diversity initiative might be much less
extensive in scale than for the preceding firm, even though the other strategic
components are identical.
.
5amþ/e slralegv o. íemþ/cvee. managemenl. þrca·l/te. þc//l/·a/ì A change in the
competitive environment can have a profound impact upon the nature of the
business strategy. When competing against a dominant economic presence in an
industry, rivals that are less competitive economically may resolve to compete
politically or socially (Fuller, 2009) lest they choose or are forced to exit the
industry (Porter, 1980, 1985). For the leading firm to remain dominant, the
challenge is one of maintaining that position across three fronts – economically,
politically and socially – which requires the continual expenditure of managerial
resources. These resources could alternatively be used to enhance the existing
economic dominance were the firm’s rivals not able to pursue political or social
means of uprooting them.
In the above illustrated strategic reference, an example may include the provision of
political sabbaticals to employees wishing to manage the grassroots electoral
campaigns of candidates competing in national elections. Volunteer campaign
managers with exceptional organizational skills that can spend a number of months
working long hours are chronically difficult to attract; the best ones may command a
salary that, while enabling the employee to take an unpaid leave of absence from work,
drain the election campaign of financial resources. Yet this form of grassroots activity
might enable a firm to develop a cadre of managers, that are supportive of the firm’s
corporate values, and through their voluntary political experiences, have elite
relationships with prospective governmental officials.
Building-blocks
of strategic
management
11
To summarize, the implementation of a referencing system to standardize the
identification of business strategies better enables comparisons among competing
alternatives in strategic designs. The formulation of strategic referencing is an
outcome of developing a common, pan-theoretical classification system for business
strategies. Together, these two contributions provide important benefits to the field of
strategic management and are a direct result of the taxonomy provided at the outset of
this paper. These contributions are intended to advance cross-theoretical discussions
by academic researchers while enabling practitioners to more readily identify areas of
potential competitive advantage in designing effective business strategies.
Contributions to theory
The taxonomy above is significantly different from conventional models of the firm.
As suggested by Donaldson and Preston (1995), traditional models are premised upon
variants of the production function: the conversion of raw materials into finished goods
with outcomes that are moderated by the influence of stakeholders such as investors
and employees. However, there are a number of disadvantages to such a
conceptualization. Among them are an economic-centric notion of value creation and
the limited consideration of ways in which various stakeholders may impact the
strategic value of the firm.
The traditional notion of valued added production undermines consideration of
non-economic motives for strategic activity such as political and/or social motivations.
In a world that is becoming increasingly globalized, the importance of these
considerations is intensifying. With the expansion of business beyond domestic
markets, additional external stakeholders – such as foreign governments, regulators,
market analysts and social interest groups – are affecting the firmin a myriad of ways.
Where the firm’s actions have the potential to affect external parties, stakeholder
responses have often included direct engagement with the firm, and indirect
engagement through the firm’s customers, investors or other stakeholders (Freeman,
1984; Wheeler and Sillanpa¨a¨, 1997; Svendsen, 1998). The impact of the firm on these
external stakeholders, and their subsequent impact upon the firm, is not well reflected
in classic input-output based models.
Various alternative models have been offered which place greater emphasis upon
the stakeholder as the source of strategic value creation. Among these competing
models is that of Donaldson and Preston (1995), whom employ a spider web approach
of external stakeholders encapsulating the firm. While their critique of input-output
models has merit, there are some conceptual concerns toward this prospective
replacement. In contrast to the work on effective taxonomies (e.g. Chrisman el a/, 1988;
Meznar and Nigh, 1993), the stakeholder grouping in the Donaldson and Preston work
creates uncertainty about whether each stakeholder belongs to a mutually distinctive
taxa. For example, in their model, employees are an exogenous agent of the firmbut the
work is silent upon what then constitutes an endogenous stakeholder of the firm. If
employees are also intended to be endogenous actors within the firm, as they are in
common understanding and according to stakeholder theory (Freeman, 1984; Wheeler
and Sillanpa¨a¨, 1997; Svendsen, 1998), then a conflict arises with the taxonomy criteria
which requires that each stakeholder be classifiable by a single taxa.
The related issues of the lexus of control and the pattern of interaction are
additional concerns with competing stakeholder models. The lexus of control either
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implicitly or explicitly defines where the bulk of strategic value is created in the model.
The pattern of interaction illustrates how that value is leveraged by various
stakeholders. In spider web models, of which the Donaldson and Preston article
(Donaldson and Preston, 1995) is an example, the firm is given a central placement and
all interactions among stakeholders are mediated by the firm. However, this not only
imbues the firm with an unnecessary centrality, but does not fully reflect the extent to
which strategic value may be created. Suppliers, for example, may collaborate with one
another in joint ventures or strategic alliances to develop new products or processes
that add value to first mover firms which adopt them. Accordingly, spider web models
of stakeholder relationships may fail to depict the full range of potential patterns of
interaction among the firm’s stakeholders. Models wherein the firm is not assumed to
have a central mediating function – such as models other than either input-output and
spider web designs – represent a broader continuum of potential stakeholder
interaction and may capture a fuller range of organizational behaviour at a more
strategic level. The development of these kinds of models can make an important
contribution to both the strategic management literature as well as to stakeholder
theory.
Contributions to practice
Unlike traditional models of firm behaviour that attempt to depict flows of business
activity, information or the like, taxonomies are a classification system that enables the
categorization of information. Taxonomies can be especially useful when applied to
business strategy due to the ability to consistently identify and categorize firm
strategies. What differentiates the taxonomy offered here from other models of firm
behaviour is the ability of managers to transparently identify, at the business unit of
analysis, actual strategies which may then be descriptively compared to the intended
strategies of the firm and actual strategies of rivals. As a result, weaknesses in the
strategic planning processes of the firm, relative to internal firm objectives or the
planning processes of rivals – can be self-initiated, identified and corrected. This
ability is especially important to managerial practice because it can further enhance
real world benchmarking activities and the comparative analysis of business
strategies.
Three forms of comparative strategic analysis are possible as a result of developing
the taxonomy and the standardized referencing system. The first is historical analysis
whereby the evolution of a firm’s business strategies can be documented; this explores
issues involving intrafirm variability in stakeholder management over time
(Shropshire and Hillman, 2007). The advantage to the practitioner of this ability is
to identify and document key success factors from prior strategies and opportunities
for improvement in present strategies through a chronological review.
The second form of analysis involves future-oriented strategic planning. Among the
useful features of the taxonomy is that it guides the business manager in deciding
among competing choices in business strategy. At its most basic level, each strategy
consists of four building blocks: a stakeholder, a strategic domain objective, a tactical
approach to the stakeholder and a competitive environment in which the action is
focused. While the number of stakeholders is variable – depending on the application
by a particular firm in a particular industry, the other three constructs are of a finite
size:
Building-blocks
of strategic
management
13
(1) lhree categories of domain objectives;
(2) lhree categories of domain tactics; and
(3) lhree competitive environments.
Even the simplest of business strategies therefore involves a choice among 27 strategic
alternatives (three domain objectives x three tactical approaches x three competitive
environments) for each selected stakeholder. Combinations of these basic strategies
can yield a nearly infinite variety of ever more complex business-level strategies. This
provides a much greater degree of specificity for designing business strategies than
that which is provided by alternative approaches such as the three generic strategies –
differentiation, cost leadership and focused strategies –offered by Porter (1980, 1985).
Additionally, practitioners are now able to comparatively assess the virtues of two or
more strategies at a more granular level prior to committing to a particular action.
These comparisons can be from different strategic groupings across the taxonomy, or
through precise analysis, from among different implementations within the same
strategic taxon.
The third form of strategic analysis for practitioners involves comparisons with
other firms in the industry. Cross-sectional analysis is made possible through the use of
the standardized referencing system that was described previously. Managers can
readily identify strengths or weaknesses in their strategies t/sa t/s those of their rivals
based upon the presence or absence of any of the four dimensions for each strategy.
This is particularly useful for practitioners when combined with a theoretical
perspective on business strategy. Analysts can use the extant strategic management
literature, in combination with the taxonomy, to better select the means of achieving a
more sustainable competitive advantage than that of their rivals. In so doing, the
possibility of an oversight in the intended strategic design should be greatly reduced.
Final thoughts
This paper has identified a weakness in the strategic management literature: the lack
of a pan-theoretical taxonomy of business strategies. This weakness is significant
because it inhibits management academics of one theoretical perspective from
effectively describing strategies in terms that are understandable and consistently
analyzable from another theoretical tradition. In also impairs the ability of
practitioners to formulate business strategies because the range of strategic choice
may seem ambiguous and ill-defined without the guidance of a management academic
or consultant. The purpose of this paper has been to address this important issue in a
manner that would enhance the dialogue across theoretical perspectives within the
strategic management field.
A taxonomy of business strategies has been developed in order to address this gap
in the literature. The central construct of this paper employs categorical dimensions
that are pan-theoretical in nature; ones which do not needlessly impinge on any
strategic management perspective. This taxonomy, and the referencing system that
enables the standardized labeling of business strategies, supports enhanced discussion
within our research discipline of differing theoretical approaches to the field. Empirical
and experimental researchers can better compare the application of a particular
strategy in multiple organizational contexts and/or multiple strategies in a given
context. Conceptual researchers can continue to employ their preferred theoretical
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approaches while expanding the degree of cross-theoretical discussion by invoking the
standardized referencing system. Practitioners have greater descriptive clarity through
which business strategies – including potentially overlooked avenues for achieving
competitive advantages – may be identified and pursued. Collectively, both
researchers and practitioners may use these basic building blocks of business
strategy in ways best suited to their individual needs while enabling a common
understanding by those from differing theoretical traditions.
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practice”, lcurna/ cf lu///· Affa/rs, Vol. 2 No. 1, pp. 362-77.
Meznar, M.B. and Nigh, D. (1993), “Managing corporate legitimacy: public affairs activities,
strategies and effectiveness”, 8us/ness and 5c·/elv, Vol. 32 No. 1, pp. 30-43.
Miles, G. (1993), “In search of ethical profits: insights from strategic management”, lcurna/ cf
8us/ness Elh/·s, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 219-25.
Porter, M.E. (1979), “How competitive forces shape strategy”, Hartard 8us/ness Ret/eu, Vol. 57
No. 2, pp. 93-101.
Porter, M.E. (1980), (cmþel/l/te 5lralegv. Te·hn/¡ues fcr Ana/v./ng lnduslr/es and (cmþel/lcrs,
Free Press, New York, NY.
Building-blocks
of strategic
management
15
Porter, M.E. (1985), (cmþel/l/te Adtanlage. (real/ng and 5usla/n/ng 5uþer/cr lerfcrman·e, Free
Press, New York, NY.
Shropshire, C. and Hillman, A.J. (2007), “A longitudinal study of significant change in
stakeholder management”, 8us/ness and 5c·/elv, Vol. 46 No. 1, pp. 63-88.
Svendsen, A. (1998), The 5la/ehc/der 5lralegv, Berrett-Koehler, San Francisco, CA.
Wernerfelt, B. (1984), “A resource-based view of the firm”, 5lraleg/· Managemenl lcurna/, Vol. 5
No. 2, pp. 171-80.
Wheeler, D. and SiIlanpa¨a¨, M. (1997), The 5la/ehc/der (crþcral/cn, Pitman, London.
Wilson, I.H. (1975), “What one company is doing about today’s demands on business”,
in Steiner, G.A. (Ed.), (hang/ng 8us/ness5c·/elv lnlerre/al/cnsh/þs, Graduate School of
Management, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA.
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research, and policy”, Tcr/d 8an/ Resear·h O/serter, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 225-50.
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Vol. 21 No. 3, pp. 325-43.
About the author
Mark Fuller is an Assistant Professor in Strategic Management at the Schwartz School of
Business at St Francis Xavier University. Previously, he lectured extensively at the DeGroote
School of Business, McMaster University and the Schulich School of Business, York University
in Ontario, Canada. His professional experience includes serving as a banker with the Royal
Bank Financial Group, as an export development analyst with the Canadian Embassy in
Washington, DC, and as a management consultant. A past candidate for elected office, he has
also served on a number of charitable boards of directors. Mark Fuller can be contacted at:
mfuller@stfx.ca
MD
48,1
16
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In response to these issues.1 6 practitioners to design strategies to create sustainable competitive advantages that fully encompass the range of strategic alternatives available. this paper develops a pan-theoretical taxonomy of business strategies based on a detailed review and synthesis of the extant literature.MD 48. (2) the strategic goals of the activity (domain objectives). is directed at one or more stakeholder . Academic researchers will benefit from a consistent approach to the recognition. regardless of the theoretical lens. At present. A taxonomy of business-level strategies A four-dimensional cube is offered as the central construct of this paper to define the set of strategies available to firms at the business unit of analysis. but rather pan-theoretical in nature. and (4) the type of competitive advantage pursued based upon the nature of the activity (competitive environment). The terms and language evoked by the researcher’s description may be dissimilar to the lexicon employed by other researchers. especially those employing competing theories. the taxonomy is leveraged to provide a means of labelling business strategies in a pan-theoretical manner. As indicated in Figure 1. Business practitioners will develop better defined business strategies in a more timely fashion: they will be able to more readily identify oversights in their planning processes that will enable better formulated strategies which can be comparatively evaluated within and between firms. It is posited that all strategic activity at the business-level of analysis. and across business units at the corporate strategy level. all strategic activity involves multiple combinations of these four dimensions. (3) the form of tactics employed (domain tactics). The first outlines the central construct of a pan-theoretical taxonomy of business strategies. that formulation is then couched in the descriptive norms of the researcher’s chosen theoretical lens. when described by business academics. the first dimension of the taxonomy is the stakeholder inclusion dimension. The final section ` offers a discussion of the incremental benefits of this particular taxonomy vis-a-vis the extant literature and the contributions to managerial practice. which are integrated into ever more specific and encompassing meta-strategies within the business unit. the formulation of a particular business strategy is based upon an author-specific frame of reference. In the subsequent section. This paper offers a descriptive taxonomy of business strategies which facilitates pan-theoretical discussions in the strategic management field and is comprised of three major sections. even though the tactics by which the strategy is operationalized may be comparatively similar. It is argued that at the business unit level of analysis. This research offers a number of important implications to both researchers and managers alike. identification and referencing of business strategies irrespective of the theoretical lens employed. A need exists to transparently and consistently define and label business strategies in ways that are not theoretically contingent. These dimensions specify: (1) the stakeholders upon which the tactical activities are focused (stakeholder inclusion).

Stakeholder theory disaggregates the firm to the greatest degree in terms of identified actors whose activities are to be given managerial consideration (Freeman. an internal department. which consists of a definable group of buyers. 1984. which he referred to as strategic domains. While the identification of a stakeholder provides an initial focal point for the business strategy to be developed.Building-blocks of strategic management 7 Figure 1. In writing on the motivations for business objectives. The next two dimensions – domain objectives and domain tactics – address these issues. In contrast. Wheeler and ¨¨ Sillanpaa. a business strategy targets identifiable entities in order to employ limited resources both efficiently and effectively in the pursuit of business objectives. 1980. 1985). or a specific supplier (Wernerfelt. In either scenario. For example. 1991). 1997) but as previously stated. stakeholders are an essential component of all strategic management theories. distributors or consumers. 1984. A taxonomy for categorizing business-level strategies groups. He argued that firms have three generic domain objectives that drive strategic action regardless of the industry in which they operate: . strategies are directed toward achieving a defensible place in the market. still left unaddressed are the motivations behind the emergent business strategy and the tactics through which the strategy will be pursued. according to the strategic positioning framework (Porter. 1979. the focus of which may be particular employees. Barney. the resource-based view places great emphasis on resource management and skill development. Simple strategies may be direct at a single stakeholder. more complex strategies may involve interdependent relationships among multiple stakeholders. Baysinger (1984) identified three classifications.

political or social realms which comprise the fourth dimension of the taxonomy: the competitive environment. As a consequence. 1979. This approach to the classification of tactics is adopted here because it is both pan-theoretical and descriptively informative.MD 48.1 (1) the growth or expansion of the firm’s activities (domain management). Wheeler and ¨¨ Sillanpaa. 1980. For each combination of stakeholder groups and strategic domains. rather than a substitution for. While the differences in theoretical doctrine are arguably the most notable at the tactical level – market-oriented through leveraging aspects of a value chain (Porter. Barney. 8 . Various authors have previously characterized tactics as either proactive. 1980. 1984. durable and competitively superior resources through which the firm can eek out enhanced financial performance (Wernerfelt. a common means of categorizing these differing approaches is the nature of the engagement between members of the firm and the recipients of the tactical action. Galbreath. 1991. 1975. they define the competitive space in which business strategies evolve and compete with the strategies of their rivals. 1979. Traditional strategic management theories often place emphasis on economic means of obtaining organizational goals with a lingering minimization of alternative approaches. the work in various theoretical traditions within the strategic management field. as all strategies have at a fundamental level one or more of these objectives as a rationale for a series of business tactics. 1985). While the subject of a particular business strategy may be one or more stakeholders. 1980). Whereas various theoretical traditions might focus tactical business activities around sources of cost leadership or differentiation (Porter. 1993. there is a choice among tactics by which stakeholders may be engaged in the pursuit of business objectives. This approach is also descriptively useful as it can characterize ex ante. 2006). Collis and Montgomery. When these domain objectives are combined with targeted stakeholder groups. Barney. resource acquisition and skill development (Wernerfelt. resource and skill-focused according to the tenets of the resource-based view (Wernerfelt. 1997). 1984. 1995). accommodative or reactive in terms of the nature of the relationship between participant stakeholders (Wilson. 1979. This enables each tactic to be focused on achieving a particular strategic objective regardless of the strategic management theory one employs. (2) the defence or protection of its existing activities (domain defence). this taxonomy is an addition to. 1984. One common example of economic-centric means of achieving strategic objectives is the attainment of an attractive market position that achieves a source of differentiation or cost leadership compared to the strategies employed by rival firms (Porter. 1984. ¨¨ 1991) or a particular stakeholder (Freeman. Carroll. Wheeler and Sillanpaa. the resource-based view emphasizes the acquisition of inimitable. Clarkson. These strategic domains are a necessary component of a taxonomy of business strategies. and (3) maintaining the legitimacy of the processes by which the firm engages in competition (domain maintenance). or stakeholder-centred according to stakeholder theory (Freeman. such as the pursuit of political or social advantages (Miles. Similarly. the focus of that activity is centred in one or more of the economic. 1995). 1991. in situ or ex post the nature of the interaction which may shape the behaviour of the firm’s actors with the various parties involved. 1985). 1984. 1997) – there are means available to categorize the application of tactics in a pan-theoretical manner. Barney.

1999. the focus of the activity is delineated. or the tactics employed. Woolcock and Naryan. problem or opportunity. it must allow for the generalization of information within each taxon: the proposed taxonomy is internally homogeneous within each taxon allowing for comparisons to be made. First. Hillman. the competitive environment. Further. In contrast with economic-centric approaches to strategic competition. A further benefit of developing this taxonomy is that it supports the innovation of a referencing system for business strategies. and the competitive environments in which the strategy is enacted. The advantages of this taxonomy are that it facilitates comparative analyses within and across strategic dimensions. This taxonomy enables the identification of four essential components of a business strategy: the stakeholder(s) included. 2005. Wu and Choi. acquire strategically valuable resources or form important networks among similarly interested stakeholders (Fuller. it must foster the consistent identification and retrieval of information: tactical business activity may be collectively exhausted through the use of the proposed taxonomy. 2009). A referencing system for business strategies One of the benefits of a standardized taxonomy is that it facilitates the development of an index by which business strategies may be referenced. However. Hillman and Keim. With the additional description of the competitive environment(s) in which the business activity occurs. An additional benefit of such a classification system is that it enables the standardized categorization of strategies from one firm to the next across industry and geographic divides. In contrast. In addition. 2009). Examples of these goals may include a shift in public policy or a call for action among community members. Galbreath. 2000. based on the criteria of Chrisman et al. 1995). The specification of the stakeholder(s) involved in a business strategy highlights the subject of that strategy. Next. The taxa have also been appropriately named to ensure consistency in classification. 2006). the tactics employed. The ability to itemize these strategies according to a referencing system and then retrieve similar business strategies with an identical index reference enhances the ability to compare and Building-blocks of strategic management 9 . 2002. It also exhibits the necessary characteristics of an effective classification system. other authors have discussed aspects of business-government and business-society relationships whereby the goals are not economic but rather politically or socially based (Hillman and Hitt. Keim. 2004. the objectives of the strategy. the economic realm need not be the only environment in which competition among firms occurs: rivalry in the political and social environments may enable firms to eek out distinctive market positions. across-taxon comparisons facilitate managerial selection of different policy responses at the strategic level of analysis. (1988) and Meznar and Nigh (1993). each taxon should be stable: reclassification of business tactics would only occur with a change in the actual stakeholder focus. the domain objective. 2001.Collis and Montgomery. it must define entities into distinct groups: the taxonomy has mutually distinctive taxa within each and across the four dimensions. Within-taxon comparisons allow practitioners to consider different tactical options within the same strategic approach to a given business issue. More complex strategies may involve the multiple competitive environments as part of a series of business goals (Fuller.

The specification of these four items allow for the identification of a business unit strategy down to the tactical level of analysis. Compare and contrast this strategy with the next strategic reference. proactive. Yet the shift in stakeholders would likely produce a much different series of business activities than that supported by the previous strategic reference. the benefits of which are expected to have a significant focus upon the economic basis of competition and to have an important impact upon the firm’s economic position. The conversion of a corporation into an income trust might be one indication of such a strategic approach. The domain tactic signals whether the action is a proactive. The stakeholder component associates the intended business activity with a particular audience in the internal or the external environment of the firm. management.MD 48. Domain Objectivesn. e. Domain Objectives indicates the domain management. Domain Tacticsn. Domain Tactics specifies the nature of the engagement by the firm. Sample strategy 1: (investor. (2) the domain objective. such a strategy might involve the . one can identify every strategic possibility within the four dimensional cube as depicted in Figure 1. or social). Competitive 1 1 1 Environmentsn) 1 where Stakeholders refers to the stakeholder(s) for which the strategy is targeted. A business strategy is the sum of a firm’s individual stakeholder strategies and can be formulated as follows: Strategy ¼ S (Stakeholdersn. As an example. proactive. and Competitive Environment signifies the type of competitive advantage the strategy is meant to pursue (economic. . While the stakeholder focus has changed. (3) the domain tactic. the domain objective. This strategic reference suggests a series of business activities that are aggressively focused upon the investment community. One example of a business unit strategy might be the following: . The domain objective distinguishes between management.1 10 analyze business strategies within the firm.g. The competitive environment stipulates the intended basis of competition for the particular strategy: an economic. Sample strategies from the taxonomy can be defined to illustrate the use and benefits of a strategic referencing system. economic). tactical method and basis of competition remain unchanged. Sample strategy 2: (employee. political. political or social competitive advantage. Through the specification of these four components. domain defense or domain maintenance goals of the strategy. the total of these possibilities representing the breadth of strategic alternatives available to a firm’s managers. accommodative or reactive approach of the firm. There are four components to a strategic referencing system that are of importance: (1) the stakeholder. across firms. accommodative or reactive. proactive. management. defence and maintenance motives underlying the firm’s behaviour. and (4) the relevant competitive environment. and across industries and geographic boundaries. economic).

Building-blocks of strategic management 11 In the above illustrated strategic reference. In this strategy example. economic). A change in the competitive environment can have a profound impact upon the nature of the business strategy. . one implicitly affects the scale and the intent of the business activities that are expected to result from the strategy. While the scope of the strategy is unchanged. drain the election campaign of financial resources. have elite relationships with prospective governmental officials. Volunteer campaign managers with exceptional organizational skills that can spend a number of months working long hours are chronically difficult to attract. defence. When competing against a dominant economic presence in an industry. even though the other strategic components are identical. might not only serve as a means to effectively retain employees and reduce the costs of turnover. the challenge is one of maintaining that position across three fronts – economically. but provide additional economic advantages by enabling employees of diversity to better engage with customer groups of similar diversity that also provide economic benefits to the firm. 1980. move from a salaried compensation system to one in which commissions are the primary form of remuneration. the scale may vary with the change in motivation. One could conceive of a leading edge diversity management system represented by this strategic reference. . By changing the domain tactic. Sample strategy 5: (employee. politically and socially – which requires the continual expenditure of managerial resources. and through their voluntary political experiences. economic). perhaps at the behest of its employees. These resources could alternatively be used to enhance the existing economic dominance were the firm’s rivals not able to pursue political or social means of uprooting them. an example may include the provision of political sabbaticals to employees wishing to manage the grassroots electoral campaigns of candidates competing in national elections. the diversity initiative might be much less extensive in scale than for the preceding firm. A rival firm may feel compelled. wherein the organization can significantly enhance how it leverages the uniqueness of its employees. 1985). to adopt a similar approach. proactive. management. Yet this form of grassroots activity might enable a firm to develop a cadre of managers. rather than from management realizing the strategic potential of diversity.. Yet if the strategy originated as a result of accommodating the wishes of employees to have parity in working conditions. rivals that are less competitive economically may resolve to compete politically or socially (Fuller. For the leading firm to remain dominant. the stakeholder component remains constant but the domain objective has changed. while enabling the employee to take an unpaid leave of absence from work. accommodative. . A proactive approach to diversity. Sample strategy 4: (employee. Sample strategy 3: (employee. if effectively implemented. as per the previous example. defence. political). proactive. the best ones may command a salary that. 2009) lest they choose or are forced to exit the industry (Porter. that are supportive of the firm’s corporate values. Imagine an industry where one firm develops a novel diversity management system.

. In a world that is becoming increasingly globalized. However. investors or other stakeholders (Freeman. While their critique of input-output models has merit. ¨¨ 1984. is not well reflected in classic input-output based models.g. 1984. the stakeholder grouping in the Donaldson and Preston work creates uncertainty about whether each stakeholder belongs to a mutually distinctive taxa. Where the firm’s actions have the potential to affect external parties. stakeholder responses have often included direct engagement with the firm. 1997. the importance of these considerations is intensifying. The traditional notion of valued added production undermines consideration of non-economic motives for strategic activity such as political and/or social motivations. and indirect engagement through the firm’s customers. as they are in common understanding and according to stakeholder theory (Freeman. market analysts and social interest groups – are affecting the firm in a myriad of ways. 1988. As suggested by Donaldson and Preston (1995). there are some conceptual concerns toward this prospective replacement. Svendsen.1 12 To summarize. The formulation of strategic referencing is an outcome of developing a common. regulators. Together. The related issues of the lexus of control and the pattern of interaction are additional concerns with competing stakeholder models. these two contributions provide important benefits to the field of strategic management and are a direct result of the taxonomy provided at the outset of this paper. in their model. These contributions are intended to advance cross-theoretical discussions by academic researchers while enabling practitioners to more readily identify areas of potential competitive advantage in designing effective business strategies. With the expansion of business beyond domestic markets.MD 48. If employees are also intended to be endogenous actors within the firm. there are a number of disadvantages to such a conceptualization. 1998). Various alternative models have been offered which place greater emphasis upon the stakeholder as the source of strategic value creation. employees are an exogenous agent of the firm but the work is silent upon what then constitutes an endogenous stakeholder of the firm. additional external stakeholders – such as foreign governments. For example. pan-theoretical classification system for business strategies. 1993). 1998). Among them are an economic-centric notion of value creation and the limited consideration of ways in which various stakeholders may impact the strategic value of the firm. The impact of the firm on these external stakeholders. Among these competing models is that of Donaldson and Preston (1995). Meznar and Nigh. Svendsen. In contrast to the work on effective taxonomies (e. the implementation of a referencing system to standardize the identification of business strategies better enables comparisons among competing alternatives in strategic designs. whom employ a spider web approach of external stakeholders encapsulating the firm. Contributions to theory The taxonomy above is significantly different from conventional models of the firm. Chrisman et al. then a conflict arises with the taxonomy criteria which requires that each stakeholder be classifiable by a single taxa. Wheeler ¨¨ and Sillanpaa. and their subsequent impact upon the firm. traditional models are premised upon variants of the production function: the conversion of raw materials into finished goods with outcomes that are moderated by the influence of stakeholders such as investors and employees. 1997. The lexus of control either . Wheeler and Sillanpaa.

However. The development of these kinds of models can make an important contribution to both the strategic management literature as well as to stakeholder theory. Three forms of comparative strategic analysis are possible as a result of developing the taxonomy and the standardized referencing system. Suppliers. The second form of analysis involves future-oriented strategic planning. relative to internal firm objectives or the planning processes of rivals – can be self-initiated. the other three constructs are of a finite size: Building-blocks of strategic management 13 . At its most basic level. Contributions to practice Unlike traditional models of firm behaviour that attempt to depict flows of business activity. identified and corrected. Taxonomies can be especially useful when applied to business strategy due to the ability to consistently identify and categorize firm strategies. this not only imbues the firm with an unnecessary centrality. As a result. each strategy consists of four building blocks: a stakeholder. of which the Donaldson and Preston article (Donaldson and Preston. 1995) is an example. 2007). this explores issues involving intrafirm variability in stakeholder management over time (Shropshire and Hillman. The advantage to the practitioner of this ability is to identify and document key success factors from prior strategies and opportunities for improvement in present strategies through a chronological review. While the number of stakeholders is variable – depending on the application by a particular firm in a particular industry. a strategic domain objective. for example. a tactical approach to the stakeholder and a competitive environment in which the action is focused. actual strategies which may then be descriptively compared to the intended strategies of the firm and actual strategies of rivals. The pattern of interaction illustrates how that value is leveraged by various stakeholders. spider web models of stakeholder relationships may fail to depict the full range of potential patterns of interaction among the firm’s stakeholders. Models wherein the firm is not assumed to have a central mediating function – such as models other than either input-output and spider web designs – represent a broader continuum of potential stakeholder interaction and may capture a fuller range of organizational behaviour at a more strategic level. at the business unit of analysis. Accordingly.implicitly or explicitly defines where the bulk of strategic value is created in the model. the firm is given a central placement and all interactions among stakeholders are mediated by the firm. This ability is especially important to managerial practice because it can further enhance real world benchmarking activities and the comparative analysis of business strategies. The first is historical analysis whereby the evolution of a firm’s business strategies can be documented. information or the like. Among the useful features of the taxonomy is that it guides the business manager in deciding among competing choices in business strategy. may collaborate with one another in joint ventures or strategic alliances to develop new products or processes that add value to first mover firms which adopt them. What differentiates the taxonomy offered here from other models of firm behaviour is the ability of managers to transparently identify. weaknesses in the strategic planning processes of the firm. taxonomies are a classification system that enables the categorization of information. In spider web models. but does not fully reflect the extent to which strategic value may be created.

(2) three categories of domain tactics.MD 48. to better select the means of achieving a more sustainable competitive advantage than that of their rivals. or through precise analysis. cost leadership and focused strategies –offered by Porter (1980. The central construct of this paper employs categorical dimensions that are pan-theoretical in nature. Conceptual researchers can continue to employ their preferred theoretical 14 . Even the simplest of business strategies therefore involves a choice among 27 strategic alternatives (three domain objectives x three tactical approaches x three competitive environments) for each selected stakeholder. Final thoughts This paper has identified a weakness in the strategic management literature: the lack of a pan-theoretical taxonomy of business strategies. and (3) three competitive environments. This provides a much greater degree of specificity for designing business strategies than that which is provided by alternative approaches such as the three generic strategies – differentiation. ones which do not needlessly impinge on any strategic management perspective. Cross-sectional analysis is made possible through the use of the standardized referencing system that was described previously. A taxonomy of business strategies has been developed in order to address this gap in the literature. and the referencing system that enables the standardized labeling of business strategies. the possibility of an oversight in the intended strategic design should be greatly reduced. in combination with the taxonomy. Additionally. supports enhanced discussion within our research discipline of differing theoretical approaches to the field. from among different implementations within the same strategic taxon. This weakness is significant because it inhibits management academics of one theoretical perspective from effectively describing strategies in terms that are understandable and consistently analyzable from another theoretical tradition. Analysts can use the extant strategic management literature. Managers can ` readily identify strengths or weaknesses in their strategies vis-a-vis those of their rivals based upon the presence or absence of any of the four dimensions for each strategy. These comparisons can be from different strategic groupings across the taxonomy. practitioners are now able to comparatively assess the virtues of two or more strategies at a more granular level prior to committing to a particular action.1 (1) three categories of domain objectives. This taxonomy. Combinations of these basic strategies can yield a nearly infinite variety of ever more complex business-level strategies. 1985). Empirical and experimental researchers can better compare the application of a particular strategy in multiple organizational contexts and/or multiple strategies in a given context. The third form of strategic analysis for practitioners involves comparisons with other firms in the industry. In so doing. This is particularly useful for practitioners when combined with a theoretical perspective on business strategy. The purpose of this paper has been to address this important issue in a manner that would enhance the dialogue across theoretical perspectives within the strategic management field. In also impairs the ability of practitioners to formulate business strategies because the range of strategic choice may seem ambiguous and ill-defined without the guidance of a management academic or consultant.

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W. The Stakeholder Corporation. B. McMaster University and the Schulich School of Business.ca To purchase reprints of this article please e-mail: reprints@emeraldinsight. The Stakeholder Strategy. “A longitudinal study of significant change in stakeholder management”. Berrett-Koehler.emeraldinsight.J.com/reprints . Asia Pacific Journal of Management. pp. UCLA. 2. 21 No. I. Vol. 225-50. 171-80. A.1 16 Porter. 63-88. (1984). A past candidate for elected office. (2007). he lectured extensively at the DeGroote School of Business. 325-43. Woolcock. Vol. (Ed. Previously. Wernerfelt. (1998). Shropshire. San Francisco. 3. and policy”. Free Press. 5 No. DC. W. (1997).L. M. “Transaction cost. social capital and firms’ synergy creation in Chinese business networks: an integrative approach”. D. 46 No. and SiIlanpaa.E. New York. Vol. Strategic Management Journal. as an export development analyst with the Canadian Embassy in Washington. C. pp. (1975). pp. 15 No. D.H. A. and as a management consultant. M.MD 48. Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance. Los Angeles. G. he has also served on a number of charitable boards of directors. and Hillman. His professional experience includes serving as a banker with the Royal Bank Financial Group. CA. (2004). 2. ¨¨ Wheeler. Canada. CA. Changing Business-Society Interrelationships. Business and Society.A. 1. NY. York University in Ontario. “A resource-based view of the firm”. research. pp. and Choi. M. (2000). Wilson. Vol. Svendsen. and Narayan. Mark Fuller can be contacted at: mfuller@stfx. Wu. (1985). London. “What one company is doing about today’s demands on business”. About the author Mark Fuller is an Assistant Professor in Strategic Management at the Schwartz School of Business at St Francis Xavier University. Pitman. Graduate School of Management. in Steiner.com Or visit our web site for further details: www.). World Bank Research Observer. “Social capital: implications for development theory.

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