Strategic Groups: Theory and Practice

John McGee

in The Oxford Handbook of Strategy

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780199275212
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management C

Strategic Groups: Theory and Practice

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  • Business and Management
  • Business Strategy
  • Organizational Theory and Behaviour



The concept of strategic groups and the initial theorizing about strategic groups originated in the early 1970s at Harvard, where a number of researchers, guided by Caves and Spence, were engaged in doctoral research studying the existence of structural (strategic) asymmetries within industries, their implication for market equilibrium, and modelling the competitive behaviour of firms on the basis of these asymmetries. This article sets out to assess the progress made in research into strategic groups, to identify the linkages to other aspects of strategic management, and to suggest implications for the conduct and practice of strategic management. The first section introduces the basic theoretical framework, the second sets out the implications for theory and practice, the third part outlines some of the interesting empirical studies, the fourth section extends the concept to include a role for management cognition (‘mental maps’), and the final section discusses some parallels and connections with the population ecology of organizations.

Keywords: strategic groups; market equilibrium; competitive behaviour; firm behaviour; strategic management; organization ecology

Article.  15389 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management ; Business Strategy ; Organizational Theory and Behaviour

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