Time-Based Strategies and Practice

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Long Range Planning, Vol. 26, No. 4, pp. 90 to 101, 1993 Printed in Great Britain

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0024-6301/93 $6.00 + .OO 1993 Pergamon Press Ltd

Time-Based Strategies and Practice
Gary E. Spanner, Josh Pablo Nun”0 and Charu Chandva

Theory

As firms compete in a global environment, the need for integrating functions in organizations is being felt more than ever. Firms are realizing that to sustain long-term competitive advantages, business strategies have to be linked to functional strategies. ‘Time’ provides this.missing link. Recent research supports the use of time-based competition strategy in defining corporate objectives, outlining strategic programmes and measuring productivity and performance in ‘time’ units rather than money. A time-based model of strategies is described. Time is used in conjunction with other strategies to offer a strategic mix which best suits various market segments of a companys product portfolio. In this way, companies may create a prolonged record of success and be highly focused to market needs.

examples of time-based strategies which lead to our framework. Finally, the implications of this research for competitive strategies are noted.

Generic Strategies
Many authors and practitioners recognize that firms utilize various degrees of differentiation and scope in order to position their products in various market segments.* These characteristics represented as dimensions of a matrix combine to identify strategies which are generally available to firms for competing in various market niches. Di$erentiation typically has a continuum of low cost to high differentiation. Firms often position products based on this scale in an effort to gain competitive advantages best suited to their product life cycles and production technologies. Scope is shown as a range of (narrow to broad) target markets. Firms use this dimension to identify a market base and distribution channels.

The competitive strategies of firms have long been based on the concept that there are various ways to compete and, therefore, a company must have mechanisms to integrate its business strategy across both its functional areas and the market environments. However, management practices have often been inconsistent with these assumptions. Despite the underlying logic of a stronger link between generic business unit strategies and the underlying functional-level ones, the actual evolution of functionally integrated systems has remained a slow process driven by operational necessity and technical opportunity.’ This is primarily due to lack of awareness of techniques available for developing and implementing generic strategies in tandem with functional strategies. This paper integrates the basic tenets of generic strategies with a common attribute of functional strategies-‘time’. A two-dimensional view of generic strategies is presented, then a description of the problems of linking business unit strategies to functional strategies is outlined. We then present

Gary E. Spanner is a Senior Research Engineer at Battelle’s Pacific Northwest Laboratories in Richland, Washington. Jose Pablo Nuiio is an Assistant Professor and Charu Chandra a Graduate Research Assistant at Industrial and Management Systems Engineering, Arizona State University.

These two characteristics combine to offer a unique perspective on the competitive strategies proposed by Porter. The interplay of these characteristics is shown in Figure 1. The ideal position for a highly competitive firm is to be on the diagonal. Market forces, however, continually exert pressure to prevent firms from attaining this state. As a compromise, firms strive to be as close to the diagonal as is possible, to stay competitive. To achieve the block-diagonal-form shown in Figure 1, fu-ms identify clusters of products and their associated processes, suited for a combination of market scope and differentiation. Forming a cluster requires matching products with similar...
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