Small Business Manager Scanning Emphases and the Dominant Logic of the Business-level Strategy


  • Bruce A. Walters Louisiana Tech University
  • Richard L. Priem The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
  • Christopher L. Shook Auburn University


Normative prescription dictates that the pursuit of a business-level strategy can be best achieved when strategic decision makers focus their attention on those functions and activities most relevant to that particular strategy (Porter, 1980; 1985). We examine two elemental research questions for strategic management: 1) what is the connection, if any, between business-level strategies and the sectors managers scan most in their external environments; and 2) are business-level strategies associated with specific internal firm characteristics and capabilities managers attend to most? We evaluate these questions using a field survey in which small business managers identify differences in the external environmental sectors and internal firm attributes they scan most when pursuing different strategies. Results demonstrate some connections between the strategy being pursued and external and internal scanning emphases. Importantly, we conclude that this "scanning connection" should not be taken for granted and we offer suggestions for how managers should be deliberate about their scanning behavior.


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