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The Entrepreneurial M-Form: Strategic Integration in Global Media Firms


  • Thomas R. Eisenmann

    () (Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration, Baker West 472, Soldiers Field, Boston, Massachusetts 02163)

  • Joseph L. Bower

    () (Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration, Morgan Hall 467, Soldiers Field, Boston, Massachusetts 02163)


Many researchers believe that bounded rationality prevents CEOs in large, complex, multidivisional (“M-form”) corporations from personally formulating division-level strategies. Instead, CEOs are seen as guiding a “bottom-up” process whereby division managers propose strategies for review and approval by the corporate office. Contrary to this view, we argue that CEOs in global media firms frequently drive strategy in a “top-down” manner, especially when their firms seek to expand by integrating the activities of two or more existing divisions. We refer to such firms as “Entrepreneurial M-forms,” and maintain that their reliance on an activist CEO offers benefits: (1) in turbulent environments, when the use of slow, bottom-up planning processes risks forfeiting first-mover advantages; and (2) when expansion entails major capital commitments, and division managers may be reluctant to accept the career risks associated with sponsorship of “bet-the-company” projects.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas R. Eisenmann & Joseph L. Bower, 2000. "The Entrepreneurial M-Form: Strategic Integration in Global Media Firms," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 11(3), pages 348-355, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ororsc:v:11:y:2000:i:3:p:348-355

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    Cited by:

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    2. F. Ted Tschang, 2007. "Balancing the Tensions Between Rationalization and Creativity in the Video Games Industry," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 18(6), pages 989-1005, December.
    3. Yue Maggie Zhou, 2015. "Supervising Across Borders: The Case of Multinational Hierarchies," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 26(1), pages 277-292, February.
    4. Clark G. Gilbert, 2006. "Change in the Presence of Residual Fit: Can Competing Frames Coexist?," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 17(1), pages 150-167, February.
    5. Corinne A. Coen & Catherine A. Maritan, 2011. "Investing in Capabilities: The Dynamics of Resource Allocation," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 22(1), pages 99-117, February.
    6. repec:spr:jorgde:v:7:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1186_s41469-017-0025-y is not listed on IDEAS
    7. J. Ignacio Canales, 2015. "Sources of Selection in Strategy Making," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(1), pages 1-31, January.
    8. Jeffrey A. Martin, 2011. "Dynamic Managerial Capabilities and the Multibusiness Team: The Role of Episodic Teams in Executive Leadership Groups," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 22(1), pages 118-140, February.
    9. Jean-Philippe Vergne & Colette Depeyre, 2015. "How do firms adapt? A fuzzy-set analysis of the role of cognition and capabilities in U.S. defense firms’ responses to 9/11," Post-Print hal-01274005, HAL.
    10. Alexander S. Alexiev & Justin J. P. Jansen & Frans A. J. Van den Bosch & Henk W. Volberda, 2010. "Top Management Team Advice Seeking and Exploratory Innovation: The Moderating Role of TMT Heterogeneity," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(7), pages 1343-1364, November.


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