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Matching Managers to Strategies: A Review and Suggested Framework

Author(s): Andrew D. Szilagyi, Jr. and David M. Schweiger

Source: The Academy of Management Review, Vol. 9, No. 4 (Oct., 1984), pp. 626-637
Published by: Academy of Management
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?Academy of Management Review, 1984, Vol 9, Na 4, 626-637.

Matching Managers to Strategies:

A Review and Suggested Framework

University of Houston
Researchers and practicing managers interested in the field of strategic
management recently have given attention to the types of managers given
responsibility for implementing chosen strategies. This interest in matching
managers with strategies has resulted in the development of a number of

models that describe those managerial characteristics (i.e., personality traits,

skills, behaviors) that might be best suited for certain strategies. Some of
the limitations of these models are discussed, and a suggested framework

for future research is offered.

Recently the study and application of strategic

management has gained wide acceptance by both
academicians and practicing managers. As a result,
knowledge about this important field of study has
begun to be assimilated and communicated to an
ever-widening audience.

This interest in strategic management has seen attention given to the strategy formulation process and
to the ensuing implementation of chosen strategies
(Galbraith & Nathanson, 1978; Kiechel, 1982; Lyles
& Watson, 1982). Concern for implementation has
generated interest in linking business and corporate
strategy concepts with those associated with human
resource planning-specifically, matching managers
to strategies. Proponents of this linkage appear to
reject, partially, conventional wisdom, which suggests that competent managers can successfully run
any organization, regardless of the chosen strategies.
Instead, they suggest that emphasis be placed on selecting managers whose skills, management styles,
and behaviors are congruent with the requirements
of particular strategies.
The nature and necessary actions for implementation of strategies at the corporate level of multidivisional firms, the strategic business unit (SBU) level
of multidimensional firms, and corporate level of major product line firms may differ (Hofer & Schendel,
1978). As such, the types of managers needed and
their level within the firm also may differ. For example, at the multidivisional corporate level the

focus might be on the chief executive officer (CEO)

(and the top management team), whereas at the SBU
level it might shift to presidents of strategic business
areas (SBAs) or the SBUs themselves. Regardless of
the level of analysis, congruence between the strategies chosen and the types of managers responsible
for implementing them might be a desired state.

A Review of Strategy-Manager
Matching Models
Extensive analysis of an organization's external
and internal environments and the suggestions derived from strategic choice models frequently are
used as guides to the selection of strategies. Among
the most popular in the growing list of choice models
include the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) matrix
(Hedley, 1977; Henderson, 1979); the product life cy-

cle (Rumelt, 1979); generic strategies (Porter, 1980);

and variants of the General Electric Business Screen
(Hofer & Schendel, 1978). Chosen strategies from
these choice models usually are accompanied by certain actions for implementation, such as allocating
resources, product/market positioning, identifying
areas of investment.

The growing interest in strategic management also

has led to increased attention to selecting managers
to implement strategies. For example, some theorists
have suggested that in moving from a growth to a
turnaround strategy, or from a hold and defend to


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tent diplomat. Each archetype differs in the level of

a divestment strategy, the required managerial behaviors should change-change in a manner that is

the following individual characteristics: conformity,

consistent with the requirements of the strategy

(Hofer, 1980). This interest in matching managers to
strategies requires the application of the accumulated
knowledge on managerial selection.
The managerial selection literature suggests that
selection decisions should involve at least the follow-

sociability, activity, pressure to achieve, and style of

thinking. The first four characteristics are personality
variables; style of thinking is not. Why these parti-

cular characteristics were chosen and how they relate

to strategies are not discussed. According to Wissema
et al., "We have made these selections specifically
on the basis of a brief investigation and on the

ing four factors: (a) an evaluation of the job, including needed requirements, activities, and behaviors for effective performance; (b) an assessment of
managerial skills, abilities, and other individual

grounds of high degree of recognizability" (1980, p.


characteristics (e.g., experience, knowledge) pertinent Stages of Growth Model

to the job; (c) consideration of organizational facLeontiades (1980, 1982) developed two strategytors that are deemed important beyond the job or
manager matching models: corporate level and SBU
person; and (d) assignment of managers to jobs on
level. He based his corporate model on Rumelt's
the basis of the match achieved among the above
(1979) refinement of Chandler's (1962) stages of
(Heneman, Schwab, Fossum, & Dyer, 1980). The
growth theory. The theory assumes that firms prodegree to which existing matching models incorporate
gress from a simply organized, single-product focus
these managerial selection factors is summarized in
to an eventual multidivisional, multi-industry diverTable 1.

sification. The stages of growth include singleproduct, dominant product, related diversification,

Strategic Archetypes Model

and unrelated diversification.

Wissema et al. (1980) developed a strategic man-

The second element in the Leontiades' corporate

agement archetypes model based on two major con-

model-at first called management style, but later

clusions drawn from leadership research: (a) that

leaders can change their styles but, in all probability, lack the flexibility to function effectively in all
types of organizations or situations; and (b) the
nature of the situation in which leaders operate influences their level of effectiveness. Their model proposes to link strategies with various styles of leadership available to managers.

referred to as strategy-concerns two basically dif-

The Wissema et al. model is built on a taxonomy

of strategies based on a modified product-life cycle
(i.e., situation of the market), adjusted for consideration of an organization's internal potential (i.e., situation within the market). Six strategies are identified:
explosive growth, expansion, continuous growth,
consolidation, slip strategy, and contraction. The
translation of these strategies into specific job requirements, however, is not well articulated. For example, the authors describe an explosive strategy,
which suggests an improved competitive position only
in the short term; whereas another strategy, the slip
strategy, suggests an emphasis only on cost reduction.
Without describing in detail the job requirements
of the six strategies, the authors propose six matching
strategic archetypes; pioneer, conqueror, levelheaded ruler, administrator, economizer, and insis-

ferent "philosophies of managing," steady-state and

evolutionary. Each philosophy describes the strategy
a firm adopts as it moves to achieve growth. The
model leaves ambiguous the relations between these
strategies and specific job requirements, managerial
skills, and behaviors. A steady-state strategy, for example, emphasizes efficiency; an evolutionary strategy emphasizes growth and investment in areas and
markets outside the current one.
The managerial characteristics element of the
model retains the steady-state/evolutionary dichotomy. For each, four prototypes are identified. In
steady-state conditions, the prototypes include the activist, the growth entrepreneur, the product manager,

and the R & D planner. For evolutionary conditions,

the prototypes are: the remote controller, the aloof
strategist, the acquiror, and the growth director.
What specific skills and behaviors are associated with
these prototypes, or how they relate conceptually to
strategies and job requirements, is not articulated.
The author, however, does discuss the importance
of managerial values and specific functional area
skills in the selection process (Leontiades, 1980).


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Table 1

Summary of Selected Strategy-Manager Matching Models

Model Strategies Job Requirements Characteristics

Wissema, Van Der Pol, Messer (1980) 1. Explosive 1. Improve competitive 1. Pioneer
(Archetypes) position in short period
2. Expansion 2. Improve competitive 2. Conqueror
position over long term
3. Continuous growth 3. Maintenance activities 3. Level-headed ruler
4. Slip 4. Cost reduction 4. Administrator
5. Consolidation 5. Dexterity, flexibility, 5. Economizer
and artistry
6. Contraction 6. Various 6. Insistent diplomat

(Some combination of
the following
characteristics: conformity, sociability, activity, pressure to achieve,

style of thinking.)

Leontiades (1982) 1. Steady-state 1. Efficiency based on 1. Activist, growth en(Stages of growth) SBU trepreneur, product
manager, R & D

2. Evolutionary 2. Growth, investment in 2. Remote controller, aloof

other areas/markets strategist, acquiror,
growth director

Kerr (1982) Introduction, growth, Reward system that Model advocates

(Reward system) maturity, decline as ap- focuses on critical job eliciting desired
plied to homogeneous responsibilities (i.e., mangerial behaviors
firm performance criteria) through the use of
reward systems.

Miles & Snow (1978) 1. Defender 1. Domain protection, effi- 1. Finance and/or produccient production, tion expertise in dostrong control emphasis miant coalition

2. Prospector 2. Locate and exploit new 2. Marketing and/or R&D

opportunities, expertise in dominant
technological flexibility, coalition

coordination needs

3. Analyzer 3. Combination of above 3. Combination of above

4. Reactor 4. Variable 4. Variable

Porter (1980) 1. Overall cost leadership 1. Tight cost control, fre- 1. Process engineering
(Generic strategies) quent reports, strict skills, task orientation
rules incentives based (inferred)
on quantitative targets,
access to capital

2. Differentiation 2. Coordination focus, in- 2. Coordination skills, prodcentives based on uct engineering skills,
quantitative targets marketing knowledge,
creative abilities

3. Focus 3. Combination of above 3. Combination of above

Leontiades' SBU level model is an extension

of what
his skills and behaviors are asmentation. Again,
corporate level model. Based on a portfolio
sociated with the four suggested strategies is not clear.
SBUs are classified according to four strategies:
Reward System Model
build, hold, buy, and sell. Although the author presents some broad guidelines as to what activities are
Kerr's (1982) presentation critiqued previous

necessary for each of the four strategies, they tend

to be quite vague. The author also incorporates three
levels of management into the SBU model: group lev-

strategy-manager matching models, particularly those

based on the product-life cycle. He offered three ma-

jor comments: (1) it has not been shown that it is

possible to measure and identify the stages of the

el, divisional level, and departmental level. He suggests that different strategies may require the involvement of different level managers for effective imple-

product-life cycle or to specify the relationship be-

tween stages and strategies; (2) it is questionable


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whether managerial personality traits can be accurately identified and measured, or if they are indeed

important to strategy implementation; and (3) consideration must be given to the type of organization
and its structure, which he defines as autonomous

(acquisition of unrelated businesses) and homogeneous (internal growth). Though he criticized the use
of the product-life cycle in selection decisions, it
serves in modified form as the basis for his reward
system model.

Taking the view that managers are capable of a

number of managerial behaviors and styles, Kerr suggests that, contrary to matching strategic situations to

personality traits, the major issue at hand "becomes

one of focusing the manager's attention on what are
believed to be critical areas and of eliciting the managerial styles and behaviors necessary to meet strate-

gic demands" (1982, p. 63). This is accomplished

through the design and administration of organizational reward systems.

Encouraging managers to achieve stated organizational goals and to perform specific acitivties at the
SBU level associated with chosen strategies is directly
linked to specified performance criteria. The criteria
are developed from an analysis of the requirements
associated with each stage of the product-life cycle
and with the administration of rewards. The productlife cycle stages emphasize short run versus long run
performance, end result versus intermediate performance, quantitative versus qualitative measures, and
corporate versus divisional performance; the reward
system deals with types of rewards, the frequencies
and sizes of rewards, the uniformity of the reward,

and the like.

To his credit, Kerr does not suggest that reward

systems can elicit all desired behaviors from managers. He proposes that managers are not capable of
changing behaviors to meet all strategic demands, al-

though they are capable of a number of managerial

styles and behaviors. What these differences between

managers are, however, is not discussed.

Miles and Snow Model

The Miles and Snow (1978) model does not specifically concern itself with matching managers to stra-

tegies. It is discussed here, however, because it addresses important issues of management coalitions
in strategy implementation, the criteria for coalition

membership, and the skills required of coalition

members under different strategic conditions.
The major premise of the authors' framework is
that organizational adaptation (i.e., strategic

response) is a complex and dynamic process. This

process requires a cycle of adjustment that focuses
on the simultaneous solution of three major issues
or problems: entrepreneurial (domain definition),
engineering (technical), and administrative (structureprocess alignment and innovation). These three problems are confronted within each of four global organizational strategies (types of organizational adaptation): (1) defenders, (2) prospectors, (3) analyzers,
and (4) reactors. Table 1 summarizes the strategies
and the sets of job requirements related to the three
aforementioned problems. For example, the defender
strategy emphasizes domain defense, efficient production, and strong control systems; the prospector
strategy emphasizes domain expansion through marketing and product development.
Miles and Snow's (1978) discussion of specific
managerial skills and behaviors is limited to the identification of the functional skills of the most powerful members of dominant managerial coalitions. For
example, the most powerful members for the defender strategy are financial and/or production experts,
whereas for the prospector strategy they are marketing and R&D experts.
Porter's Generic Strategies

The final model is Porter's (1980) generic strategies. Similar to the Miles and Snow (1978) model,
Porter's presentation does not deal directly with
matching managers to strategies. It offers, however,

certain suggestions that are of importance to the


Porter's strategies are based on an analysis of the

firm's (or SBU's) strategic advantage (low cost position or uniqueness perceived by the customer) and
strategic target (industry-wide or a particular segment). From this analysis he derives three specific
"generic" strategies: overall cost leadership, differentiation, and focus (a combination of the previous two


In his discussion of the skills, resources, and organizational requirements needed for each strategy,
Porter alludes to the strategy-manager match. For
example, an overall cost leadership strategy suggests
that job requirements such as establishing tight cost
control, frequent reports, strict rule enforcement, and

establishing incentives based on quantitative mea-

sures are critical for effective performance. Similarly, a differentiation strategy requires an emphasis on

coordination, incentives based on qualitative methods, and maintenance of quality and technological



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industries follow the same S-shaped pattern of the

cycle; and (e) the shape of the growth curve can be
influenced by management through product innovation and repositioning. Thus, using the product-life
cycle as the primary rationale for strategy and
managerial selection may not be defensible.
Questions remain concerning which strategic activities recommended by the choice models, including
and abilities.
those based on the product-life cycle, are empirically
supported or valid. Several researchers, for example,
Evaluation of Strategy-Manager
have criticized the models (e.g., the BCG matrix) and
Matching Models
their recommendations as being conceptually incomplete (Hofer & Schendel, 1978; Wind & Mahajan,
The models presented vary with respect to many
1981). Others have demonstrated only moderate emfactors, elements, and the degree to which they directpirical support for some of the models' recommenly or indirectly address matching managers to stratdations (Davis & Dess, 1982; Hambrick, MacMillan,
egies. These models are subject to challenge on a
& Day, 1982; MacMillan, Hambrick, & Day, 1982).
number of points. The focus here is on three major
Before a useful matching model can be developed and
points: strategies, managerial characteristics, and

Unfortunately the specific managerial skills and

behaviors associated with these-job requirements are
not directly addressed by Porter, but must be inferred. Overall cost leadership, for example, implies
managerial skills and behaviors related to process
engineering and intensive supervision; a differentiation strategy implies coordination, product engineering, strong marketing knowledge, and creative skills

effectively applied, research must establish the validity of the prescriptions offered by these models.
On a related but equally important point, it is
unclear which strategic choice models and sets of
recommendations are most critical to organizational
performance. Without sound theory development
and research support, attempts to select managers to

match elements.

The initial concern is with the concept of strategy

itself. Consideration of chosen strategies is important because from it certain job requirements, so important to managerial selection, usually are determined. The concern with strategies is three-fold.
First, the actual meaning of strategy too often is
perform the activities required by meaningless or
taken for granted without consideration of what acunimportant models would not be an effective exertivities are actually involved. Snow and Hambrick
cise. As the field of strategic management develops,
(1980) address the major theoretical and
perhaps many of these issues will be resolved.
methodological problems encountered in attempts to
Third, few of the strategy-manager matching
arrive at valid and reliable measures of organizational
models translate strategy into specific job restrategy. Essentially, the meaning of a "harvest

strategy" or a "turnaround strategy" may be different from strategist to strategist (Galbraith &
Schendel, 1983). This difference, in turn, may directly
affect the nature of the job requirements recommended for effective implementation. Snow and Hambrick, with respect to the Miles and Snow (1978)
model, comment: "Labels like Prospector and
Defender aid in conceptualization, but they do not
necessarily capture the nature of the strategy as seen
by those who formulate and implement it" (1980, p.

Second, an acceptance of the product-life cycle in

strategic choice, on which a number of the match
models that were discussed are based, ignores some
major shortcomings (Kerr, 1982; Porter, 1980). These
shortcomings include: (a) the different cycle stages

are not always readily identifiable; (b) the relationships between strategies and product-life cycle stages
are not clearly established; (c) the duration of the cycle can vary across and within industries; (d) not all

quirements, though the Porter (1980) and Miles and

Snow (1978) models touch on this problem. Testing
the Miles and Snow model, Hambrick (1981, 1982)
found that executives vary in their environmental
scanning efforts across different strategies. Though
the Miles and Snow strategy categories have been
challenged, the present authors believe that this type
of research is of value in the matching decision because specific strategic requirements have been


The second major concern with strategy-manager

matching models is the identification of important
managerial characteristics. A two-fold emphasis
emerges from an analysis of previous research. First,
considerable attention has been given to personality,
rather than managerial skills and behaviors. For ex-

ample, Gupta and Govindarajan (1982) examined the

relationship among SBU strategies (e.g., harvest and
build), effectiveness, and the personality attributesrisk propensity and tolerance for ambiguity. Such
studies, however, fail to relate these selected personal


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attributes to specific managerial skills and behaviors.

As stated by Kerr, "There does not seem to be a

single piece of evidence cited by proponents which
would support the contention that a given personality
type or managerial style works best in a given
product-life cycle state" (1982, p. 59).
The concerns here are similar to the lessons learned

by researchers investigating the leadership topic

(Stodgill, 1974; Yukl, 1981). That is: (a) leader traits
are important, but do not always capture the crux
of the leadership situation; (b) leader behaviors and
styles are multidimensional; (c) managers are not infinitely flexible in exhibiting a full array of styles and
behaviors, but generally depend on only a few; and
(d) situational conditions and variables in leadership
contingency theories must be clearly defined, theoretially linked, and measured with an acceptable
degree of validity and reliability.
In a similar vein, many of the discussed matching
models concentrate on categorizing or naming prototypes or archetypes at the expense of detailing the
specific behaviors and skills associated with each.
What is meant by such prototypes as activist, aloof
strategist, pioneer, levelheaded ruler, or economizer
is unclear. Without conceptual clarity and supporting research evidence concerning the relationships
among personality, managerial skills and behaviors,
and job requirements, such categories are of limited
use to theorists, researchers, and practicing managers.

Final concern is the consideration given to variables not directly related to the job or the manager.
Rarely is the selection decision as simple as matching

job requirements to managerial skills and behaviors.

Other factors, such as organizational goals, power,
structure, and various systems, must be considered
(Schneider, 1976; Tichy, 1982). Only in the Kerr
(1982) model (i.e., reward systems) and the Miles and
Snow (1978) model (i.e., power of coalitions) is the
important element of other factors considered.

strategy," 1980). As stated by Reginald H. Jones,

former chairman and CEO of the General Electric

When we classified... [our].. . businesses, and when

we realized that they were going to have quite different

missions, we also realized we had to have quite different people running them. That was where we began

to see the need to meld our human resources planning and management with the strategic planning we

were doing (Fombrun, 1982, p. 46).

A number of strategy-manager matching models

have been presented in the literature, including those
not discussed in this paper (Channon, 1979; Gers-

tein & Reisman, 1983). These models contain many

inherent shortcomings and weaknesses; however,
they have provided the impetus for further theory

development and research. Although appropriate

managerial selection appears to be of value and practical significance in facilitating effective strategy implementation, the benefits of such an undertaking
have yet to be empirically determined. The purpose
here is to stimulate such an undertaking.
The proposed framework is founded on the assumption that the process of matching managers to
strategies involves the identification and evaluation

of key job requirements and managerial skills and

behaviors, along with more global organizational
contingencies as well (Tichy, 1982). Essentially, a
more valid strategy-manager matching framework
should focus on strategic job requirements and the
necessary and related managerial skills and behaviors,
rather than on unclear strategy classifications and
personality-based archetypes or prototypes.
The major element in the suggested framework
draws on the growing literature that deals with the
elements of managerial work behavior. Popularized
by the work of Katz (1974), Mintzberg (1980), Stewart (1982), and Kotter (1982a), this literature has
sought to determine what managers actually do in
their jobs. This involves consideration of managerial
skills, roles, and behaviors.

Katz's (1974) work concerns the acquisition and

use of key managerial skills needed for successful performance. He identified three major skills: technical
A Suggested Framework
skills, which are concerned with the use of tools,
Attempts to insure that strategies will be successful- techniques, and procedures in a specialized manner;
ly implemented may lead executives to consider who human skills, which are related to interpersonal relawill be given implementation responsibility. As dis- tionships such as selecting, motivating, and leading
cussed, this topic has received attention not only in other employees; and conceptual skills, which are
the academic literature, but also in case studies
concerned with understanding the total organiza(Aguilar, 1978) and the popular literature ("Matching
tional picture by integrating and coordinating key

Matching Managers to Strategies:

Managers," 19g 1; "Wanted; A manager to fit each company activities.


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Mintzberg's (1980) seminal work concerns the various roles, or the organized set of behaviors, that
managers engage in to perform their jobs. Identified
are 10 roles within 3 major role categories: interpersonal roles, which involve relationships with people
internal and external to the organization; informational roles, which concern the manner in which information is acquired and transmitted within the organization and to external constituencies; and decisional roles, which relate to the choices that managers
must make.

Stewart's (1982) presentation focuses on three

elements of managerial jobs: demands, constraints,
and choices. Her approach consists of an inner core
of demands, an outer boundary of constraints, and
an intermediate area of choices. The choices (i.e.,
how and what work is done) are limited by the demands (i.e., performance criteria) and the constraints
(i.e., resource limitations, structure), which are
dynamic and subject to change over time. With re-

organizational factors important to the selection decision. The framework is essentially normative in nature. It is intended to stimulate interest and to suggest how research might investigate this topic. Concrete prescriptions are not offered because of the early state of research and the limitations discussed
earlier. Those that are presented are hypothetical in
nature and are used for illustrative purposes only.
The framework considers the existence and importance of actual strategies (e.g., growth, harvest,
divest) and selected personal attributes (e.g., personality). These elements, however, do not play a
central role in the framework. It is more important
that the focus be placed directly on job requirements
and managerial skills and behaviors than it is to attempt to relate strategies to personality prototypes,
as some previous models have done. As the earlier

discussion suggests, one of the major shortcomings

spect to selection, Stewart states that "the choices

of some strategy-manager matching models is that

strategic job requirements and managerial skills and
behaviors (together or singly) have not been given

that the individual is likely to take are matched to

sufficient attention.

those that the job needs" (1982, p.12).

Kotter's (1982a, b) research on general managers
is particularly important to matching managers to
strategies. He notes that achieving effectiveness involves matching relationships, responsibilities, and
demands of managerial jobs with key personal characteristics. For example, he suggests that successful
performance in jobs that are complex and involve a
diverse set of interdependent activities is strengthened
when responsible managers are knowledgeable about

Matching criteria are categories that link job requirements to managerial skills and behaviors. These

both their businesses and their organizations and

criteria are termed knowledge, integrative, and administrative. The knowledge criterion is based on
Katz's (1974) skills framework, Kotter's (1982a) complex job responsibilities, and Stewart's (1982) job

demands. It is a foundational knowledge and skill

dimension. On the job requirements side, key elements could include (but not be limited to):
1. Importance and extent of environmental scanning

have above average intelligence, analytical and intuitive skills, and a high achievement orientation. On
the other hand, performance in jobs that require getting things done through large and diverse sets of people, internal and external to the organization, is
enhanced when selected managers have developed extensive relationships (i.e., networks) throughout their
organizations and industries. These managers also
have personable and emotionally steady dispositions
and the ability to relate to diverse groups of managers
and specialists.

Figure 1 presents the suggested framework for

2. Source of job-related demands (functional focus)

3. Number of job-related demands (duties, procedures, methods)

4. Complexity of job-related demands (difficulty,

uncertainty, change).

Important managerial skills and behaviors might


1. Specific industry knowledge

2. Knowledge of particular organizational functions
(e.g., marketing, finance)
3. Overall company knowledge
4. Past performance in related or unrelated assignments

For example, future research might reveal that a

strategy focusing on market growth could point to

matching managers to strategies. Two major elements

are at the core of the framework: matching criteria,
job requirements with an emphasis on heavy enviemphasizing the match between strategic job requireronmental scanning (Hambrick, 1982), many comments and managerial skills and behaviors; and
plex demands and interdependencies both within and
matching contingencies, highlighting the existence ofoutside the organization, and a crucial focus on the

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Figure 1

A Suggested Framework for Strategy-Manager Matching



Strategy Job Requirements M4atching Criteria Skills and Behaviors Person Attributes
Growth 1. Environmental Scanning Knowledge 1. Specific Industry Knowledge Education
2. Functional Focus-Source of 2. Knowledge of Organizational

3. Number and Comnplexity of 3. Knowledge of Overall Background





4. Past Performance Personality

Divest 1. Unit and Interunit Coopera- Integrative

tion and Collaboration 1. Number and Quality of Inter- Needs

Etc. 2. Number and Importance of nal Networks
External Contacts 2. Number and Quality of Exter- Intelligence
3. Number and Importance of nal Networks
Internal Contacts 3. Quality of Interpersonal and
Communication Skills

1. Performance Goals, Standards Administrative

and Priorities 1. Quality of Conceptual Skills

2. Need for Control 2. Tendency toward Innovative
3. Need for Innovative Behavior Behavior
4. Types of Incentives and 3. Type of Control Orientation
Reward Systems 4. Flexibility in Assignments
Matching 5. Preferred Rewards and

Contingencies Incentives


marketing function. A matching manager could have

3. Number and importance of relevant internal


acquired key knowledge or skills in these areas and

Key managerial skills and behaviors might focus on:

functions, have extensive knowledge of the company

1. Number and quality of relationships with exter-

and industry, and hopefully, have performed success-

nal networks
2. Number and quality of relationships with internal
3. Quality of communication, supervisory, and interpersonal skills
4. Ability to select and motivate colleagues and

fully in similar endeavors in the past. On the other

hand, a harvesting strategy, emphasizing control of
costs and investments, could entail minimum environmental scanning and a moderate number of job
demands in which the key functions could be pro-

duction and, possibly, finance. A matching manager

Again, using the above examples, a market growth

could have developed important skills in these key

strategy might stress the need for extensive external

functional areas, in which knowledge of the company

contacts and relationships and for a high level of

and industry could be moderate, and successful per-

cooperation and collaboration between such critical

formance could have been achieved in similar assign-

functions as marketing and R&D. A matching mana-


ger could have developed a valuable network of relationships outside the company, an internal network
within the key function or functions, and have ex-

The integrative criterion is founded on Mintzberg's

(1980) interpersonal and informational roles, Katz's
(1974) human skills, and Kotter's (1982a) relation-

hibited important interpersonal skills, particularly in

ships element. Emphasized are people and informa-

motivation, communication, and conflict resolution.

A harvesting strategy could include job requirements

tional factors. Critical job requirements could include

that highlight a minimum need for external relationships, but a strong demand for enhancing interdepartmental cooperation and collaboration. The

(but not be limited to) the following:

1. Needed unit and interunit cooperation and
2. Number and importance of relevant external

desired managerial behaviors might focus on strong


internal networks and relationships, minimum em633

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phasis on external networks, and interpersonal skills

oriented toward directive leadership, conflict resolution, and effective communication.
The third fit criterion, administrative, is a directional and control factor and is based on Stewart's
(1982) choice element, Mintzberg's (1980) decisional
roles, and Katz's (1974) conceptual skills. Job requirements could include (but not be limited to):
1. Establishing clear performance goals, standards,
and priorities
2. The degree and type of emphasis on strategic

3. The degree and type of emphasis on innovative

decisions and activities
4. A concern for incentives and the type of reward

Important managerial skills and behaviors might


Quality of conceptual skills

Type of control orientation
Emphasis on innovative behavior
Flexibility and adaptability in assignments
Preferred incentives and rewards.

A market growth strategy could involve job requirements that establish and reward innovative

behavior and market share improvement, new product introduction, and so on. A manager matching
these job requirements could prefer incentives based
on growth criteria and could have shown a knack for
creative and innovative behavior, while maintaining
a view of the total organization (i.e., conceptual
skills). A harvest strategy could entail job requirements and managerial skills and behaviors oriented
toward the control of costs and operations, with
rewards coming from the achievement of these control-oriented goals.

The final matching criteria concerns a factor frequently overlooked in previous models-namely,
matching priorities. Although the list of job requirements and managerial skills and behaviors may
indicate a desired match, frequently one or two elements may be so salient as to overshadow the other
elements (Dawis & Corrigon, 1974; Wallace &
Schwab, 1976). For example, top management may
feel that the success of a market growth strategy is
so dependent on accurate environmental scanning
that they might select a manager solely on the basis
of extensive external networks and proven industry
knowledge. A manager exhibiting these behaviors
might be selected over another manager who is evaluated as having stronger credentials in other dimensions.

Beyond the basic matching criteria, there are additional organizational factors that can influence the

selection decision. These are called matching contingencies because their impact will vary with conditions in an organization. These matching contingencies have been suggested by Stewart's (1982) job constraints and Tichy's (1982) strategic change theory.
Tichy's approach suggests that "the key to managing strategic change and making an organization effective is to align an organization's componentsits mission and strategy, its structure, and its human
resources-within the three technical, political, and
cultural systems and to align each of these systems
with the others" (1982, p. 66). Technical system considerations involve defining missions and selecting
strategies, aligning structure with strategies, and fitting people to roles. Political system considerations
involve: establishing influence relationships and managing coalitions (i.e., mission and strategy); distributing and balancing power across units and groups
(i.e., structure); and managing succession politics and
designing proper reward systems (i.e., human resources). Cultural system considerations entail: aligning strategies with the values and philosophies of the
organization (i.e., mission and strategy); developing
and integrating subcultures (i.e., structure); socializing people to cultures; and managing rewards to reinforce cultural requirements (i.e., human resources).
The influence of organizational power on matching
decisions has been studied by Hambrick (1981), Pfeffer
and Salancik (1978), and Snow and Hambrick (1980).
Power is viewed as potentially having at least a threefold impact. First, when selecting managers it is suggested that managers might consider the probable effects of an alignment between the organization and its
environment. In a hospital study, Salancik and Pfeffer (1977) found that the major source of funds was
considered a key criterion in selecting administrators.
They reported that some administrators were selected
with backgrounds in accounting when the major portion of the hospital's budget derived from private insurance companies. On the other hand, some hospital
administrators with business or professional backgrounds were selected over those with accounting
backgrounds when the largest portion of the hospital's budget was obtained from private donations.
Essentially, power associated with the knowledge
base and quality of established external networks of
the studied hospital administrators were key selection factors. It was not inferred that these were the
only selection factors considered, or that all hospitals
or other organizations behave in the same way.
Second, it is suggested that those in power may not
always give up their positions easily-instead, they


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may pursue policies (i.e., selection) that guarantee

the continued existence of the dominant coalition
(Miles & Snow, 1978). Third, those in power can influence selection decisions and solidify the coalition's
position through their ability to structure information

of internal networks. Finally, recognition should be

made of the organizational level differences of strategies (e.g., corporate level of a multidivisional firm,

and reward systems (Salancik & Pfeffer, 1977; Tichy,

1982). Although it is implied that power relationships
internal to the organization are the most critical, the
influence on selection of key external stakeholders
(e.g., bankers) also warrants consideration.
The contingent effect of organizational structure
on the strategy-manager selection decision was discussed by Kerr (1982). He suggests that organizations
often expand in at least two different ways: through
acquisition of unrelated businesses (the autonomous
or heterogeneous organizations) or through internal
growth (the homogeneous organization). Kerr suggests that matching managers to strategies (i.e., internal transfers and promotions) is more realistic in homogeneous organizations because of greater commonality of communication systems, authority, delegation, and reporting patterns, accountability, and so
on. In autonomous organizations, managerial transfers are less likely between diverse divisions because
of the need for considerable adjustments of both interpersonal and formal organizational systems. In
other words, structural boundaries exist that may act

cially coalition formation and functioning, at least

partially addresses this issue.

to impede the strategy-manager matching process.

The final contingency factor, organizational culture, is defined as a pattern of beliefs and expectations shared by organizational members (Deal & Kennedy, 1982). This factor can affect strategy-manager

matching decisions in a number of ways. According

to Schwartz and Davis (1981), culture is important
in: (a) designating what specific behaviors strategies
are designed to encourage (tasks and relationships affected); (b) defining how these behaviors are linked
to critical performance factors (markets and customers served, impact of behavior on costs, what competitive advantage to seek and/or maintain); and
(c) determining which managers best represent these
preferred positions (values and philosophies).
At least three points are implied from consideration of matching contingencies. First, it is recognized
that a relationship might exist between matching contingencies and job requirements. For example, an organization's culture may facilitate or impede strategic

choice, such as Hewlett-Packard's desire to maintain

an entrepreneurial environment, aversion to debt,
and the like. Second, matching contingencies may im-

pact managerial skills and behaviors, such as an or-

SBU level). It is believed that consideration of the

power element of the matching contingencies, espe-

One of the most important functions of management should be to provide direction to the organiza-

tion-what is known as strategy. From a myriad of

alternatives, managers ideally should be able to formulate and choose strategies that will lead to the suc-

cessful achievement of certain explicit and implicit

organizational goals. Just as improperly formulated
strategies might lead to problems for organizations,
so too might choosing inappropriate managers to implement these strategies. This potential problem partially explains the attention recently given to matching
managers to strategies. Unfortunately, there has been

a lack of thorough analysis of how strategy implementation and managerial selection should work to-

gether. Previous models either lack cogent descriptions of strategies and their ensuing job requirements,
or they attempt the endless task of matching strategic
requirements to laundry lists of managerial personality types.

This paper is an attempt to provide a framework to

stimulate further research on the strategy-manager

matching topic. The focus has been two-fold: (1) to

outline a matching process that focuses on important
strategic job requirements and managerial skills and

behaviors: and (2) to identify key matching contingencies that might significantly influence the selection process. This framework is not without its limitations. From a research perspective, defining and measuring the key variables presented may be problematic. Because of company and industry differences, the

intensive interview methodology used by Kotter

(1982a) may provide the initial vehicle to study this
subject. There also is the distinct probability that not
all the important variables have been identified in this

framework. This, too, will become apparent as research continues.

The framework may contain practical problems

and limitations as well. Some executives may believe
in the "jack-of-all trades" general manager-the
strongly held belief that good managers can run any
kind of business, or that management people should
be chosen filrst and then be allowed to select their own

ganization structure that constrains the development

product/market positioning. Further problems may


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arise if this or similar frameworks should reveal the

need for managers who are not currently employed
by the organization-a particularly important issue
if the organization follows a promotion-from-within
policy. Another unresolved issue is the generalizability of this framework to these types of organizations,
such as not-for-profit ones. Again, further research
is needed.

Focusing mainly on strategy implementation draws

attention to another shortcoming. This involves the
possibility of matching managers to inappropriate
strategies. In essence, the benefits of matching managers to strategies may be negated if the strategies
are inappropriate. Of additional concern is whether
the strategy-manager matching process may result in
the identification and selection of more than one
manager. Frequently, responsibility for the implementation of strategies is divided among two or more
managers. For example, the new top management
team charged with the operating and financial turnaround of International Harvester consists of one executive with detailed knowledge of farm machinery
and the truck manufacturing businesses and a second
executive brought in from another company who had
strong ties with the financial community (Klein &
Cox, 1982). Similarly, the market niche strategy
adopted by Armstrong Rubber company was implemented by two executives: one with extensive tire pro-

duction experience and a second who had acquired

critical marketing skills during his years at General
Electric (Breckenfeld, 1982). In the model, this draws
attention to organizational level differences in strategies and to the importance of management coalitions. These and other examples suggest that researchers and managers interested in the strategymanager match should not limit their work to the selection of a single manager: an individual matching
all the needed skills may not be available. The possibility that more than one manager could be involved
indicates further the need for additional research on
the importance of management coalitions in strategy

A potentially important application of this framework (pending supporting research) could be in managerial succession, training, and development and the
application of managerial assessment centers (Finkle,
1976). Through careful job requirement analyses, the
framework may help in the design of programs that
stress the importance of developing key skills and
behaviors (e.g., developing expertise in various func-

tional areas, products, and/or industries; the need

to establish and maintain important internal and external networks) among younger managers and of

helping both them and their organizations to think

more systematically about their career development
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Andrew D. Szilagyi, Jr. is Professor of Management

Systems and Strategy and Associate Dean for Executive
Programs in the College of Business Administration,
University of Houston.

David M. Schweiger is Assistant Professor of Management

Systems and Strategy in the College of Business Administration, University of Houston.


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