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Long Range Planning

33/3 June 2000

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Charles Baden-Fuller Editorial

Organisational Forms: The Challenge for the Future

R. Miles, C. Snow and G. Miles The Future.org miles@haas.berkeley.edu

    According to William E. Coyne, Senior Vice President for Research and Development at 3M "Most modern companies now recognise that the best way to increase corporate earnings is through top-line growth, and the best route to top-line growth is through innovation". The ability to innovate, however, comes from a skill that is underdeveloped in most companies: collaboration. Knowing how to collaborate helps a company to create and transfer knowledge. Knowledge creation and utilisation, in turn, lead to innovation. Companies that understand this long-linked process, and make the appropriate investments needed to establish and maintain it, will be the big winners in the 21st Century global economy.

R-J Liu and J. Brookfield Stars, Rings and Tiers: Organisational Networks and Their Dynamics in Taiwan´s Machine Tool Industry liurj@ie.thu.edu.tw

    Effective inter-firm networks are an important competitive advantage in manufacturing. Based on a series of in-depth interviews, three case studies are presented which reflect and are representative of, the underlying structure and organisational dynamics of supplier networks in Taiwan´s machine tool industry. Basic organisational patterns include lead firm networks shaped like stars, rings and tiers. Multi-centred networks of small firms also play an active role in the industry. Factors influencing network shape include the capabilities and values of member companies, business demand and industry competition. In particular, a combination of economies of scale due to increasing product volume and greater trust stemming from an accumulated history of successful business interaction seem fundamental to changes in network structure.

Defining the Boundaries of Competition and its Consequences

R. Calori, T. Atamer and P. Nunes International Competition in Mixed Industries calori@em-lyon.com

    The collective knowledge of practitioners is useful for theory building. One of the roles of researchers is to tap practitioners knowledge, analyse it and integrate it into a collective knowledge base (a process similar to the design of expert systems). This paper analyses the collective knowledge of practitioners in four mixed industries: cables and wires, chocolate and sugar confectionery, paint and footwear and and compares their collective espoused theory of the dynamics of international competition to mainstream economic and strategic theories. Several salient concepts are discussed: the formation of regional competitive territories, the dual effect of marketing intensity, the influence of demand factors (international customers and high-growth market) and the role of strategic innovators across borders. These concepts deviate from mainstream theories of internationalisation and suggest new theoretical developments. Also, the framework derived from this collective knowledge base can return to managers and be used for crafting international strategies.

J. Sidhu, E. Nijssen and H. Commandeur Business Domain Definition Practice: Does it Affect Organisational Performance? jsidhu@fbk.eur.nl

    How do organisations conceptualise their business domain (in other words their competitive boundaries) and how can this influence their strategic choices and performance? This article finds that delineating competitive boundaries relatively narrowly, with an organisation´s technological competencies as the reference point, is positively associated with sales growth in turbulent industries. In contrast, in stable industries, conceptualising competitive boundaries relatively broadly to circumscribe substitute product organisations is positively correlated to sales growth. Additionally, results suggest that in both environment types, explicitly articulating what the business domain of an organisation is, leads to superior performance. Management implications are drawn.

W. Frentzel, J. Bryson and B. Crosby Strategic Planning in the Military: The US Naval Security Group Changes its Strategy, 1992-1998 bryso001@umn.edu

    This is an account of the US Naval Security Group Command´s (NSG) search for strategic management during a time of unprecedented change. In response to dramatic shifts resulting from the end of the Cold War, Congressional pressures for cross-service co-operation, and the emergence of new technologies, the NSG engaged in a six-year strategic planning process. The process helped the group refocus and develop strategies better suited to new demands for military preparedness. The process was incremental and eclectic: early leadership came from the middle managers rather than top officials. The process began with a `quick´ and `dirty´ planning session initiated by department heads to deal with an immediate crisis and gained momentum and top-level involvement as the first session and subsequent strategic planning efforts showed results. The process was guided by a strategic planning framework specifically designed for public and nonprofit organisations and relied on a variety of strategic planning tools and techniques, including stake holder analyses, SWOT analyses and capturing the insights gained from scenario planning using the newer cognitive methods such as cognitive and oval mapping. This article provides a chronology of events over a six-year period, explores some of the strategic planning tools and techniques used, details results achieved and discusses some of the major lessons learned.

CEO Interview

James Kelly Every Little Helps: An Interview with Terry Leahy, CEO, Tesco
james.n.kelly@cgey.com

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