Strategic Flexibility Creating Dynamic Competitive Advantages

Henk W. Volberda

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 Flexibility Creating Dynamic Competitive Advantages

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This article first explores the concept of flexibility in theories of strategic management. Subsequently, it provides a more dynamic approach in strategic management in which strategic flexibility is considered as a constructive friction between change and preservation, in particular between routines and dynamic capabilities, learning and unlearning, and administration and entrepreneurship. On the basis of this paradox of flexibility, the article develops a strategic framework that distinguishes the building blocks needed to analyse and discover viable strategic positions in various competitive environments. In this framework, flexibility is a managerial as well as an organization design task. The managerial task involves the creation of capabilities for situations of unexpected disturbance. On the basis of the variety of these capabilities and speed of response, four types of flexibility are distinguished: steady-state, operational, structural, and strategic flexibility.

Keywords: strategic flexibility; competitive advantages; strategic management; change and preservation; organization design task; operational flexibility

Article.  22168 words. 

Subjects: Business and Management ; Business Strategy

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