A Doctoral Defence in Sweden
| Nicolai Foss |
I have a hard time keeping up with my co-blogger’s blogging frenzy. Of course, he is much smarter and more energetic than I am and that partly accounts for the increasing discrepancy between our respective blogging frequencies. However, the reason I didn’t blog yesterday on O&M was that I served as an external examiner on a doctoral thesis at the Jönköping International Business School in Sweden. Situated virtually at the brinks of the enormous lake Vättern, JIBS is a newly established and highly entrepreneurial place that aims at pushing its research to a serious international level.
The specific thesis I was asked to discuss was Carlo Salvato’s Micro-foundations for Organizational Capabilities. Salvato is an Associate Professor at Bocconi University and already has an Italian PhD degree, which is based on a thesis utilizing Swedish data. His Swedish thesis, on the other hand, is based on Italian data!
More specifically, its empirical setting is product development projects in Alessi. On the basis of a painstakingly detailed identification, analysis and classification of events in 90 product development projects in Alessi, Salvato applies optimal matching analysis to detect patterns in the projects that may be interpreted as routines and capabilities. He also strongly adds to the notion of capabilities by decomposing that construct in a constituent elements (hence, the title of the thesis), although he does not go sufficiently micro for my taste (in this connection, Carlo claimed that his attempt to build micro foundations for capabilities was seen as heresy by one of the high priests of the evolutionary church, ehhh, approach in management). Although I am no sucker for the capabilities view in management, this thesis impressed me greatly. I am sure we will hear much more of Carlo Salvato in the future.
A peculiarity of the Swedish thesis defence procedure: The external examiner has to summarize the thesis, before he discusses it. After which the candidate has to tell the audience whether he can accept the summary. Odd. And the newly minted Doctor receives an absolutely ridiculous black hat.