Hedgehog Concept – Definition

Cite this article as:"Hedgehog Concept – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated December 20, 2018, last accessed August 4, 2020, https://thebusinessprofessor.com/lesson/hedgehog-concept-defined/.

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Hedgehog Concept (Business) Definition

The Hedgehog Concept calls on companies to identify their core value proposition or the one thing that they do very well and focus on that. The concept says that scattering one’s interests and objective causes a lack of focus, competency, and efficiency. Thus, it results in getting little done. Focusing on the thing that a company does well is the best method of achieving the objectives of that activity.

A Little More on What is the Hedgehog Concept

The concept originates from an old Greek parable, “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” Basically, the fox is a smart predator that can gain a meal by any number of methods. The hedgehog knows just one method of surviving a Fox’s attack. While the fox has numerous abilities, the hedgehog only has one. When the fox attacks the hedgehog, the hedgehog is always successful in defending itself — no matter what the fox tries. This idea was expanded upon by Isaiah Berlin, a philosopher, in his 1953 essay, “The Hedgehog and the Fox.” Berlin’s essay divide individuals into foxes and hedgehogs. People who pursue too many diverse goals and interests accomplish little. Those who focus on accomplishing one thing are generally more likely to do so.

The Hedgehog Concept was applied to business by Jim Collins, researcher and author, in his book, “Good to Great”. He argues that a company is more likely to be successful if it focuses upon doing one thing very well. Again, diversifying business offerings can sacrifice one’s competitiveness in a single field. Companies should therefor seek to identify its hedgehog concept and invest all available resources in that thing. This long-term competitive strategy will weather competition and allow the company to survive.

Applying the Hedgehog Concept

Applying the hedgehog concept requires identifying three attributes of your company:

  • Step 1: Where do your passions lie?
  • Step 2: What are your skills (and which ones are you best at)?
  • Step 3: Do the activities related to your passion and skills allow for a sustainable business model?
  • Step 4: Are there any overlaps between your passion and skills?
  • Step 5: Assess this against your current strategy and adjust accordingly. You will need to communicate your new strategic position throughout your organization.

References for Hedgehog Concept

Academic Research on Hedgehog Concept

” Good to Great” Policing: Application of Business Management Principles in the Public Sector, Wexler, C., Wycoff, M. A., & Fischer, C. (2007, June). ” Good to Great” Policing: Application of Business Management Principles in the Public Sector. Washington, DC: Police Executive Research Forum.

Five ways to transform a business, Bjelland, O. M., & Chapman Wood, R. (2008). Five ways to transform a business. Strategy & Leadership36(3), 4-14. This paper explores the traditional model used for transforming organizations. This model involves unfreezing them, developing a clear picture of the future, managing to make the picture a reality, and then changing systems to support the new ways. The paper suggests four alternatives to this model.

Proactive mentality for business development in Romania, Radu, R. I. (2010). Proactive mentality for business development in Romania. Financial and Monetary Stability in Emerging Countries, 830. This paper explores Robert Kiyosaki’s view, which states that an employee must be a good worker and a good investor, and states that early in career, individuals should be aware that there are four situations in which making money ie: employee, self employed, owner and investor.

Developing leadership systems inside university using Jim Collins method [good to great]: People management development to face ASEAN economic …, Pratikna, R. N., & Gamayanto, I. (2017). Developing leadership systems inside university using Jim Collins method [good to great]: People management development to face ASEAN economic community in Indonesia. Review of Integrative Business and Economics Research6(3), 45.

Extending the marketing myopia concept to promote strategic agility, Johnston, K. (2009). Extending the marketing myopia concept to promote strategic agility. Journal of Strategic Marketing17(2), 139-148. This paper proposes that many firms suffer from ‘self-concept specificity’. Recognising that this concept resonates with Levitt’s seminal Marketing Myopia concept, the paper draws on Resource-based View and Network Organisations literature to add two further dimensions, Capability Myopia and Boundary Myopia respectively. The paper then explores insights that systems thinking and organisational learning literature may provide to help firms to escape the paradox of adaptation in which conflicting imperatives drive both specialisation and variety.

Core competencies for business excellence, Gupta, R. K. (2013). Core competencies for business excellence. Advances in Management6(10), 11. This paper reports a part of the research conducted in sample of selected listed Indian companies under doctoral research work on “Factors determining excellence in Business-A study of selected listed companies in India”.  The paper aims to show that right bundle of core competencies do act as factor for business excellence.

Semantic hedgehog for log analysis, Wiley, J. J., & Coyle, F. P. (2012, December). Semantic hedgehog for log analysis. In Internet Technology And Secured Transactions, 2012 International Conference for (pp. 748-752). IEEE. This paper suggests that computer system log analysis support information security decisions of all types. In this paper, the authors suggest that semantic technologies hold one key to providing a capability for proactive, and more meaningful, log analysis.

From good to great to…, Resnick, B. G., & Smunt, T. L. (2008). From good to great to…. Academy of Management Perspectives22(4), 6-12.

The extension hedgehog, McGrath, D. M., Conway, F. D., & Johnson, S. (2007). The extension hedgehog. Journal of Extension45(2). This paper defines Extension as a competition for money, attention, and a place in the future of higher education. The paper sugests that Extension identify its education niche, specialties, and the value that only Extension adds to learning. It also suggests that Extension should be at the forefront of the modern outreach and engagement movement.

Differentiating your practice: Enhancing fulfillment, performance, and profitability, McBride, K. (2007). Differentiating your practice: Enhancing fulfillment, performance, and profitability. Advanced Esthetics and Interdisciplinary Dentistry3, 1-3.

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… And Others Don’t, Bambocci, A. (2003). Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… And Others Don’t. Journal of Small Business Strategy14(2), 129-140.

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