The Grand Strategy Matrix

In addition to the SWOT Matrix, SPACE Matrix, BCG Matrix, and IE Matrix, the Grand Strategy Matrix has become a popular tool for formulating alternative strategies. All orga­nizations can be positioned in one of the Grand Strategy Matrix’s four strategy quadrants. A firm’s divisions likewise could be positioned. As illustrated in Figure 6-13, the Grand Strategy Matrix is based on two evaluative dimensions: (1) competitive position on the x-axis and (2) market (industry) growth on the y-axis. Any industry whose annual growth in sales exceeds 5 percent could be considered to have rapid growth. Appropriate strategies for an organization to consider are listed in sequential order of attractiveness in each quadrant of the Grand Strategy Matrix.

Firms located in Quadrant I of the Grand Strategy Matrix are in an excellent strategic posi­tion. For these companies, continued concentration on current markets (market penetration and market development) and products (product development) is an appropriate strategy. It is unwise for a Quadrant I firm to shift notably from its established competitive advantages. When a Quadrant I organization has excessive resources, then backward, forward, or horizontal inte­gration may be effective strategies. When a Quadrant I firm is too heavily committed to a single product, then related diversification may reduce the risks associated with a narrow product line. Quadrant I firms can afford to take advantage of external opportunities in several areas. They can take risks aggressively when necessary.

Firms positioned in Quadrant II need to evaluate their present approach to the marketplace seriously. Although their industry is growing, they are unable to compete effectively; they need to determine why the firm’s current approach is ineffective and how the company can best change to improve its competitiveness. Because Quadrant II organizations are in a rapid market growth industry, an intensive strategy (as opposed to integrative or diversification) is usually the first option that should be considered. However, if the firm is lacking a distinctive competence or competitive advantage, then horizontal integration is often a desirable alternative. As a last resort, divestiture or liquidation should be considered. Divestiture can provide funds needed to acquire other businesses or buy back shares of stock.

Quadrant III organizations compete in slow-growth industries and have weak competi­tive positions. These firms must make some drastic changes quickly to avoid further decline and possible liquidation. Extensive cost and asset reduction (retrenchment) should be pursued first. An alternative strategy is to shift resources away from the current business into different areas (diversify). If all else fails, the final options for Quadrant III businesses are divestiture or liquidation.

Finally, Quadrant IV businesses have a strong competitive position but are in a slow-growth industry. These firms have the strength to launch diversified programs into more promising growth areas: Quadrant IV businesses have characteristically high cash-flow levels and lim­ited internal growth needs and often can pursue related or unrelated diversification successfully. Quadrant IV firms also may pursue joint ventures.

Even with the Grand Strategy Matrix, be certain that you always, whenever possible, state your alternative strategies in specific, actionable, and divisional terms to the extent possible. When you know the particular firm, such as in strategic-management case analysis, avoid using terms such as divestiture, for example. Rather, specify the exact division to be sold. Also, be sure to use the free Excel student template at that facilitates construction of all strategic planning matrices.

Source: David Fred, David Forest (2016), Strategic Management: A Competitive Advantage Approach, Concepts and Cases, Pearson (16th Edition).

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