Professor John Stopford

Today’s ‘Matrix Monday’ review of the limited literature available on the matrix is by Kevan Hall – a review of ‘Stopford and Wells were right!: MNC matrix structures do fit a “high-high” strategy – in memorian for Professor John Stopford (1940-2011), pioneer of international strategy-structure research’, by Jane XJ Qiu and Lex Donaldson, Management Review International, Vol 52.2012, 5, pp. 671-689.

In the paper ‘Stopford and Wells were right, MNC matrix structures do fit a high-high strategy’, the authors (Jane Qiu and Lex Donaldson) adapt the Stopford and Wells model for predicting when multinational companies (MNCs) will use a matrix structure.

They adopt two criteria: the degree of integration of the business, and the level of area (geographical) differentiation.

Unsurprisingly, they found that MNCs that were high on both (high-high) tended to adopt a matrix structure. They propose that a matrix allows organisations to pursue dual strategies, and hence dual reporting.

BUT:  we can also ask if the matrix can be found in other quadrants (not high on both).

A fully integrated global matrix may be the top option but we may also experience functional matrices in organizations with low levels of geographic spread, where cross functional projects or complex supply chains are necessary. Global organizations, even those that have relatively low levels of integration, often have a matrix at group level coordinating functional activities, sharing best practice and expertise.

The study acknowledges some limitations. It is based on data from German MNCs only, and it’s proxy for measuring integration is international transfers. This is only one measure, and for many of our clients integration is also about sharing expertise, knowledge and resources.

What IS clear is that organizations need to start with a clear strategy: structure should follow strategy, not the other way around.

Why not….?

  •  Find out more about matrix structures.
  • Join the LinkedIn Matrix Management Group (there’s an icon to the right of this page to help).
  • See other matrix resources.

About the author:

Claire Thompson Claire has a background in PR and communications, and has worked in the UK and abroad for many years. Within Global Integration, she's the frontline for co-ordinating the blogging, social media, posting and general digital magic that team members ask for support with. It keeps her busy - she loves it! Google+ Profile: .

Contact us now to find out more or speak to one of our specialists