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Abstract

Recent attempts at clarifying the strategy formulation problem have centred around managerial perceptions of environmental uncertainty (the need for information) and perceptions of the need for internal change. This research empirically tests one such formulation, a four quadrant model incorporating these two perceptual variables. Data sources were sixty-two longitudinal case studies involving a variety of organizations and environments. Characteristics of strategy making in each quadrant and differences between successful and unsuccessful organizations were examined through quantification of nine strategic variables for each case.

Results indicated each quadrant differed from the others on a number of important strategic properties including risk taking, role performance of the key policy-maker(s), degree of innovation, extent of futurity in planning, and success of the organization. Second, strategic properties which predicted differences in success within each quadrant included perception of uncertainty, maximizing versus satisficing behaviour, innovation, futurity of planning, and role performance of the policy-maker. Third, successful firms in each quadrant tended to follow a strategic mode appropriate for the conditions. The four successful modes were adaptive planning, planning, adaptive entrepreneurial, and entrepreneural or stress mode. Motivational aspects of these results and implications for future research are discussed.