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Emergent strategy in an entrepreneurial firm: the case of Lenovo in its formative years

Ei (Emily) Shu (Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan)

International Journal of Emerging Markets

ISSN: 1746-8809

Article publication date: 17 July 2017




While extant research has highlighted the entrepreneurial strategy and resource barriers faced by new ventures, there is little understanding of how these new ventures will be able to overcome such obstacles and implement their strategic search. Building on the perspective of emergent strategy, the purpose of this paper is to investigate the evolutionary process of strategy formation in an entrepreneurial firm in the context of an emerging economy.


This study uses a longitudinal case study of Lenovo and examines how its strategic search unfolded during its formative years. It utilizes an explorative research approach with data gathered from many sources including published and unpublished documents, existing case studies, and primary data files and documents from Lenovo’s first chief engineer.


The case findings presented herein show that Lenovo’s strategic search process was progressive and emergent. As opposed to a deliberate strategy-making mode, in which ends and means can be planned in advance, this study presents entrepreneurial strategy as an emergent process of guiding experiment and learning, whereby firms and entrepreneurs increase the knowledge of their strategic vision over time.

Research limitations/implications

There are limitations in the sampling and data analysis, further research could expand this paper’s findings to other industry settings or countries.

Practical implications

The findings offer important insights into how entrepreneurial firms identify and explore constraints and opportunities from the external environment and evolve their strategy over time. This implication is especially important in the context of emerging economies in which firms in their formative years are faced with resource and environmental constraints.


This paper provides unique insights on how an entrepreneurial firm in an emerging economy mobilizes resources and implements strategic search. Future empirical research can build on these qualitative findings to expand research agenda toward other contexts.



Shu, E.(E). (2017), "Emergent strategy in an entrepreneurial firm: the case of Lenovo in its formative years", International Journal of Emerging Markets, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 625-636.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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