Pure, Hybrid, Stuck-in-the-Middle Strategies

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Pure, hybrid or "stuck-in-the-middle" strategies? A revision and analysis of their effects on firm performance.
PERTUSA-ORTEGA, E.; CLAVER-CORTÉS, E.; MOLINA-AZORÍN, J. F

EURAM, Paris (France), may 2007.

Abstract The purpose of this study is to examine the viability of hybrid competitive strategies, which combine differentiation and cost elements, and their impact on organisational performance in comparison to pure strategies and “stuck-in-the-middle” combinations. The analysis carried out on a multisectorial sample of 164 Spanish firms has revealed that a large number of them use different types of hybrid strategies and also that such strategies tend to be associated with higher levels of firm performance, particularly those strategies which place emphasis on a greater number of strategic dimensions, and specifically on innovation differentiation. This is a relevant finding because previous studies had so far focused above all on US data and because it shows that Spain has evolved from being a developing country with low costs to a developed nation where innovating is important in order to be competitive.

Introduction
Ever since Porter published the study in which he proposed three different, mutually exclusive types of generic competitive strategies, numerous works have fuelled a debate which revolves around three major aspects: a) whether the strategy of any firm can be represented by one of the three types of generic strategies outlined by Porter, i.e. cost leadership, differentiation and focus (Bantel and Osborn, 1995; Dawes and Sharp, 1996; Kotha and Vadlamani, 1995; Miller and Dess, 1993); b) the compatibility or incompatibility between these strategies (Hill, 1988); and c) the convenience of combining these strategies for

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the purpose of improving the organisation’s performance and better adapting to the demands posed by the environment (Allen and Helms, 2006; Miller, 1992). The third aspect is the one which has received the least

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