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The Role of Micro-Strategies in the Engineering of Firm Evolution


  • Carlo Salvato


This paper proposes a model of strategic evolution as a sequence of intentional recombinations of a company's "Core Micro-strategy" with new resources and organizational routines. A Core Micro-strategy is defined here as the established system of interconnected routines, micro-activities and resources that can be traced through most of a company's strategic initiatives. The paper is based on two comparative case studies and on theories of evolution in social and cultural systems, intraorganizational ecology and the resource-based view of the firm. The resulting model advances the existing literature on strategy evolution by (1) incorporating a more direct and salient role of managerial leadership within processes of strategic evolution, (2) incorporating a central role for micro-level processes through which management can directly and intentionally shape strategic evolution, and (3) proposing recent developments in the resource-based view of the firm as a suitable theoretical framework with which to explain the processes in which strategic evolution is rooted. The model also contributes to the dynamic capabilities perspective by offering a microprocessual interpretation of their workings. The resulting view of dynamic capabilities suggests that they operate more through repeated recombination patterns of stable organizational factors, than through disruption of existing practices. The paper describes the empirical evidence which emerges from analysis of the two case studies; the two descriptive models of strategy evolution inductively built on the cases; the theoretical model resulting from cross-case analysis and iteration between the two grounded models and theoretical frameworks. Copyright 2003 Blackwell Publishers Ltd..

Suggested Citation

  • Carlo Salvato, 2003. "The Role of Micro-Strategies in the Engineering of Firm Evolution," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 40(1), pages 83-108, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jomstd:v:40:y:2003:i:1:p:83-108

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. James G. March, 1991. "Exploration and Exploitation in Organizational Learning," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 2(1), pages 71-87, February.
    3. Cohen, Michael D, et al, 1996. "Routines and Other Recurring Action Patterns of Organizations: Contemporary Research Issues," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(3), pages 653-698.
    4. Martha S. Feldman, 2000. "Organizational Routines as a Source of Continuous Change," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 11(6), pages 611-629, December.
    5. Robert A. Burgelman, 1991. "Intraorganizational Ecology of Strategy Making and Organizational Adaptation: Theory and Field Research," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 2(3), pages 239-262, August.
    6. Vincenti, Walter G., 1994. "Variation--selection in the innovation of the retractable airplane landing gear: the Northrop 'anomaly'," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 23(5), pages 575-582, September.
    7. Andrew M. Pettigrew, 1990. "Longitudinal Field Research on Change: Theory and Practice," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 1(3), pages 267-292, August.
    8. Maurizio Zollo & Sidney G. Winter, 2002. "Deliberate Learning and the Evolution of Dynamic Capabilities," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 13(3), pages 339-351, June.
    9. Bill McKelvey, 1997. "Perspective---Quasi-Natural Organization Science," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 8(4), pages 351-380, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:jbrese:v:85:y:2018:i:c:p:414-423 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Jaskiewicz, Peter & Combs, James G. & Rau, Sabine B., 2015. "Entrepreneurial legacy: Toward a theory of how some family firms nurture transgenerational entrepreneurship," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 29-49.
    3. repec:dau:papers:123456789/15193 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Aimilia Protogerou & Yannis D. Caloghirou & Glykeria Karagouni, 2014. "The relevance of the 'dynamic capabilities' perspective in low-tech sectors," Chapters,in: Knowledge-Intensive Entrepreneurship in Low-Tech Industries, chapter 7, pages 138-165 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    5. Nicolaï Foss & Nils Stieglitz, 2012. "Modern Resource-based Theory(ies)," Chapters,in: Handbook on the Economics and Theory of the Firm, chapter 20 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    6. repec:pal:jintbs:v:48:y:2017:i:9:d:10.1057_s41267-017-0107-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Claudimar Pereira da Veiga & Cassia Rita Pereira da Veiga & Mônica Maier Giacomini & Heitor Takashi Kato & Jansen Maia Del Corso, 2015. "Evolution of Capabilities in the Discovery Cycle of an Innovation in the Pharmaceutical Market," International Review of Management and Marketing, Econjournals, vol. 5(3), pages 141-153.
    8. Helen Borland & Véronique Ambrosini & Adam Lindgreen & Joëlle Vanhamme, 2016. "Building Theory at the Intersection of Ecological Sustainability and Strategic Management," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 135(2), pages 293-307, May.
    9. Stańczyk-Hugiet Ewa, 2014. "Routines in the process of organizational evolution," Management, De Gruyter Open, vol. 18(2), pages 73-87, December.
    10. Tamim Elbasha & Alex Wright, 2017. "Reconciling structure and agency in strategy -as-practice research: Towards a strong- structuration theory approach," Post-Print hal-01557268, HAL.
    11. Kim, Sung Min & Mahoney, Joseph T., 2006. "Collaborative Planning, Forecasting, and Replenishment (CPFR) as a Relational Contract: An Incomplete Contracting Perspective," Working Papers 06-0102, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, College of Business.
    12. Matthijs Janssen & Carolina Castaldi & Alexander Alexiev, 2014. "Dynamic capabilities for service innovation: conceptualization and measurement," Working Papers 14-07, Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies, revised Mar 2014.
    13. Martha S. Feldman & Brian Pentland & Luciana D'Adderio & Nathalie Lazaric, 2016. "Beyond routines as Things: introduction to the special Issue on routines Dynamics," Post-Print halshs-01310289, HAL.

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