Intel Corporation’s Internal Ecology of Strategy Making (Abridged)

By Robert A. Burgelman, Clayton M. Christensen
2015 | Case No. SM95B | Length 19 pgs.

The pivotal role played by Intel in the development of the semiconductor industry, from the company’s founding in 1968 and focus on semiconductor memory products (SRAM and DRAM), through various innovations in microprocessor technology, and leading to the introduction of the 286, 386, and 486 microprocessors is described in this case. Intel’s internal ecology of strategy-making—its strategic leadership culture and style of decision making—is described at several key moments in the company’s history when strategic decisions related to the entry and exit of several business lines internally competing for resources profoundly influenced the company, and the marketplace. This case draws upon cases and research papers concerning strategy-making at Intel Corporation written between 1989 and 1994.

Also see: SM95: Intel Corporation’s Internal Ecology of Strategy Making

Learning Objective

This case is designed to help students develop a conceptual framework for clarifying and managing dynamic strategic situations:

  1. Forces driving industry evolution, such as increasing returns to adoption
  2. Forces driving company evolution, such as the resource allocation process
  3. Internal ecology of strategy-making as a source of emergent strategy
  4. Strategic inflection points (SIP) and associated internal strategic dissonance
  5. CEO strategic recognition necessary to timely drive corporate transformation
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