Adaptive and Survival model of strategic modeling in organizations

The adaptation model was developed by Raymond Miles and Charles Snow and focuses on strategies for adapting the organization to the environment.

This adaptation according to the model is achieved by solving three strategic problems: entrepreneurial, engineering, and administrative.

The entrepreneurial problem examines what managers believe regulates their market, ie what determines the goods or services of the organization to be produced in a particular product market possession.

In a real sense, this problem is solved in the mission of the organization.

The engineering problem is one of the decisive problems, the methods of which are suitable for the production and distribution of goods and services.

The solution to this problem is determined by the decision of the entrepreneur or by the decision of the management what products or services to deliver to the market.

The decision usually involves the implementation of a system of production, control, and distribution of goods or services that support the organization’s mission.

The administrative problem is related to the creation of a suitable for the implementation of the solutions on the previous 2 problems. The decision about the degree of bureaucracy in the organization depends on the control over the management, the methods of hiring employees, and the solutions that can be chosen to solve this problem.

The adaptation model of the organizational strategy requires the managers to choose 3 solutions to the 3 problems. The most successful organizations according to this strategic model are the ones that have most accurately defined their decisions. Miles and Snow define 4 types of strategies based on different ways of organizing, according to their problems and ways to solve them:

Protective strategy

A protective strategy is implemented when the management seeks or creates a stable environment. The protection strategy solves an entrepreneurial problem by defining a narrow market segment and producing products only for that segment.

The engineering problem is solved by using efficient production methods. The goal is to achieve low production costs and high efficiency at a low selling price.

It is believed that low costs and price will not be the strength of competitors and this will protect the company. The administrative problem is solved by creating such an organization of management, which provides firm control over all activities and decisions.

The aim is to avoid any mistakes and increase the efficiency of employees.

The defense strategy is similar to the concentration strategy. They are used by restaurants that target a narrow market segment, seek to maximize efficiency, and impose strict control on their employees.

Offensive strategy

The opposite of defensive and seeks rapid change and large market growth. The entrepreneurial problem is solved by defining a fairly wide market that will allow diversification of production.

The engineering problem is solved through flexible and innovative production methods. The orientation towards active innovation of the production requires the use of different production methods, which can be changed if necessary.

This avoids continuous new investments when production changes. The administrative problem is solved by providing freedom and flexibility in the actions of employees. The goal is to activate change.

Analytical strategy

Analytical strategy is implemented by defining two directions of the company. One focuses the attention of some of the organizational units of the company on the implementation of defensive strategy, and the other direction requires the implementation of offensive strategy by other organizational units.

The main problem of company management is to ensure a balance between the two strategies. The entrepreneurial problem is solved by identifying the two market segments – stable and changing.

The engineering problem is solved in different ways for the individual units – by using methods and tools that ensure low costs and high efficiency of external units and by using flexible production methods by the attackers.

The administrative problem is solved in a different way – narrow control for the old product groups in the defending units and relatively free activity for the attackers.

Responsive strategy

Used by companies that have made strategic mistakes and need to correct them. These errors are due to incorrect management decisions regarding the formulation and implementation of a strategic plan.

The entrepreneurial problem is solved by reformulating the company’s mission, the engineering problem by searching for new methods and means of production, and the administrative problem by formulating a new organizational structure of the company.

The response strategy is similar to the strategic alternatives to segregation and liquidation.

Survival model

This model is known from the theory of natural selection in nature. It is based on an assessment of the impact of the external environment on company societies.

They are a group of companies that use and must share the same limited resources. The survival model views company success as completely problematic.

This is because frequent changes in the external environment require frequent changes in the company’s activities, and thus the success in the current year may change to failure in the next. At the same time, it is believed that managers have much less influence on the company’s success than the external environment.

The changes in the companies take place in three stages:

1. Variation.

Increasing the number of companies that produce products and services, ie new companies are constantly being created. At the same time, the number and variety of strategies for reaching the market are growing. This in turn leads to a large increase in consumers and the use of limited resources of the external environment.

2. Survival.

Competition for a limited amount of resources leads to the survival of one and the elimination of other companies. This is since some of them are more adapted to the changing environment, while others are not. Their non-targeting is due to 2 reasons: insufficient resources to achieve a specific goal; inefficient activity caused by poor management and difficult adaptation to changing environmental conditions.

3. Storage.

The companies that have survived must constantly fight for their preservation. This is done by implementing strategies of flexible adaptation to the external environment.

In this strategic model, the environment is seen on the one hand as stable and homogeneous, and on the other as unstable and heterogeneous.

Organizations that are closely specialized and can produce the same product with the same quality characteristics for an indefinite period survive in a homogeneous and stable environment. In an unstable and heterogeneous environment, organizations with a wide profile of activity adapt, which can quickly reorient from the production of one type of product to another.

The model defines two types of organizations:

1. Specialists.

These are organizations that direct all their resources to the production of only one or more products or services. This specialization of the company leads to increased efficiency but is possible only if the external conditions and the market are almost constant and homogeneous.

2. General specialists.

These are companies that produce many products and services. The lack of specialization reduces the efficiency of the company, but also allows it to adapt more quickly to a rapidly changing and heterogeneous environment. The manager can at any time redirect forces and resources from the less profitable to the more sought-after products.



The question “Which strategic model is the best” is often asked. The answer is that there is no best, but only suitable for different types of companies. Each model assists the management of the companies in choosing a strategy that best suits the company’s capabilities and the peculiarities of the external environment.

The portfolio model is a rather powerful model regarding the accumulation and use of previous mass, but it takes into account only 2 of the main parameters that should be taken into account in the strategic analysis. However, a good strategy can be based on parameters other than cash flow.

The competitive model considers the dependence on input and output barriers to companies and business results. What threats and dangers can the company expect from the external environment.

The adaptive model is related to the pursuit of maximum adaptation of the company to the environment by simultaneously solving 3 strategic problems.

The survival model is based on ideas similar to those in biology and looks at how changes in the external environment affect the success of companies.

Companies choose the most suitable model for them, knowing exactly what they need, what capacity they have to step over, and get the information that will contribute to their performance.

By Michael Young

Michael Young is the chief publisher of and is passionate about all project management and business management disciplines from the modern education programs presented by the popular universities in the United States (USA) and the United Kingdom (UK)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *