There have been few attempts to understand the strategy making process by examining the organizational and environmental context in which it occurs. Rather than adopting the stance of contingency theorists who focus mainly on bivariate relationships, we decided to look for simultaneous associations among a fairly large number of variables. It was hoped that these variables would configure into models or archetypes which describe a series of different, though very frequently occurring modes or organizational failure and success. The metho- dology used to isolate archetypes is explained. Ten archetypes are described. Successful archetypes are: the adaptive firm under moderate challenge, the adaptive firm in a very challenging environment, the dominant firm, the giant under fire, the entrepreneurial con- glomerate, and the innovator. Failure archetypes include: the impulsive firm, the stagnant bureaucracy, the headless giant, and the aftermath.


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