Global strategic linkages and industry structure

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Abstract

A theoretical framework is proposed to understand the structure of networks of strategic linkages in global industries. It is argued that global industry structure should be understood in terms of firm membership in ‘strategic groups’ and ‘strategic blocks’. Strategic groups are based on similarities in the strategic capabilities of firms. Strategic blocks, on the other hand, are based on similarities in their strategic linkages. Two types of strategic blocks are proposed: complementary blocks composed of firms from different strategic groups, and pooling blocks composed of firms from the same strategic group. It is further proposed that in equilibrium, each strategic block will have access to a similar set of strategic capabilities. Empirical support for these arguments is drawn from the global automobile industry during the period 1980-90. The implications of strategic blocks for intra-industry performance differences are discussed in the concluding section of this paper.

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