Miles and Snow
Organizational Types

Miles and Snow, based on an in-depth cross-industry study of a relatively small sample or large corporations, developed a theory that there are three superior performing business types and all others are average or less than average. Their theory holds that in order to be superior, there must be a clear and direct match between the organization's mission/values (their definition), the organization's strategies (their basic strategy set), and the organization's functional strategies (their characteristics and behavior).

"Defenders are organizations

  1. which have narrow product-market domains.
  2. Top managers in this type organization are highly expert in their organization’s limited area of operation
  3. but do not tend to search outside their narrow domains for new opportunities." (Miles and Snow, 1978, p. 29)

Basic strategy set:

Characteristics & behavior:

 "Prospectors are organizations

  1. which almost continually search for market opportunities, and
  2. they regularly experiment with potential responses to emerging environmental trends.
  3. Thus, these organizations often are the creators of change and uncertainty to which their competitors must respond." (Miles and Snow, 1978, p. 29)

Basic strategy set:

Characteristics & behavior:

"Analyzers are organizations

  1. which operate in two types of product-market domains, one relatively stable, the other changing.
  2. In their stable areas, these organizations operate routinely and efficiently through use of formalized structures and processes.
  3. In their more turbulent areas, top managers watch their competitors closely for new ideas, and then rapidly adopt those which appear to be the most promising." (Miles and Snow, 1978, p. 29)

Basic strategy set:

Characteristics & behavior:

"Reactors are organizations

  1. in which top mangers frequently perceive change and uncertainty occurring in their organizational environments
  2. but are unable to respond effectively.
  3. Because this type of organization lacks a consistent strategy-structure relationship, it seldom makes adjustments of any sort until forced to do so by environmental pressures." (Miles and Snow, 1978, p. 29)

Basic strategy set (1 of 3):

Source: Miles, Raymond E. and Snow, Charles C. (1978). Organizational strategy, structure, and process. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Co.

See also:
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Copyright 2000 Raymond S. Kulzick. All rights reserved. 000704.

This publication provides business, financial planning, and/or tax information to our clients. All material is for general information only and should not be acted upon without seeking appropriate professional assistance.

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