The Specialist Strategy

by Glenn Carroll



The question remains as to whether sociologists should even bother considering small organizations when developing strategic theory. Consider that in 1972, establishments with nine or fewer employees constituted 50.8 percent of all manufacturing establishments, 70.4 percent of all retail establishments, 80.3 percent of construction establishments, and 84.6 percent of service establishments. Moreover, in 1975 almost 22 percent of the U.S. labor force worked in organizations with 19 employees or less. Small firms also generate a disproportionately high number of the economy's new jobs as well as many important innovations, and small firms are well positioned to play a major role in the export market. Given these facts, the more appropriate question seems to be why strategy theorists have ignored small organizations for so long. Undoubtedly, part of the answer lies in the relatively smaller total profits of these firms. However, many of these firms earn a respectable return on their small investments and many of the others do not have profit-oriented goals. Small organizations, then, may best be evaluated on criteria different than that used to evaluate large organizations. In any case, the specialist organizational strategy will probably continue to be the most widely practiced of all organizational strategies, the research of strategy theorists not withstanding.

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