Excerpted from Barney, J.B. & Griffin, R.G. "The management of organizations: Strategy, structure, behavior." Houghton Mifflin, 1992.
Raymond Miles and Charles Snow suggest that business level strategies generally fall into one of four categories: prospector, defender, analyzer, and reactor. An organization that follows a prospector strategy is a highly innovative firm that is constantly seeking out new markets and new opportunities and is oriented toward growth and risk taking. 3M is an excellent example of a firm that uses prospector strategies. Over the years, it has prided itself on being one of the most innovative major corporations in the world. Employees at 3M are constantly encouraged to develop new products and ideas in a creative and entrepreneurial way. This focus on innovation have led 3M to develop a wide range of products and markets, including invisible tape and antistain fabric treatments. Another example: Johnson & Johnson links decentralization with a prospector strategy. Each of the firm's different businesses is organized into a separate unit, and the managers of these units hold full decision-making responsibility and authority. Often, these businesses develop new products for new markets. As the new products develop, and sales grow, Johnson & Johnson reorganizes so that each new product is managed in a separate unit.
Rather than seeking new growth opportunities and innovation, an organization that follows a defender strategy concentrates on protecting its current markets, maintaining stable growth, and serving its current customers. BIC Corporation used defender strategies, despite its history as an innovative firm (the original BIC "crystal" and the BIC "biro" pen were significant innovations in the writing instruments industry). Since the late 1970's, with the maturity of the market for writing instruments, BIC has adopted a less aggressive, less entrepreneurial style of...