High-technology firms operate in uncertain and volatile settings in which technologies, competitive boundaries, and market conditions transform continuously. Based on a longitudinal study of high-tech companies in Silicon Valley, the authors propose that these firms adopt an "empiricist" mode of strategy making, thereby fusing together the processes of strategy formation and implementation. This mode involves: experimentation and action to create options and develop new competencies; escalation of viable alternatives with a concerted deplopment of resources; and integration of new initiatives into the strategic context and organizational infrastructure. This article describes selected strategic moves in two medium-sized high-technology firms, proposes a three-stage framework as a basis for explaining their strategy-making process, and discusses the main features of the empiricist mode.
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