Continuing the Micro-foundations Crusade

5 June 2006 at 12:54 am 1 comment

 | Nicolai Foss |

With Teppo Felin and Peter Abell, I am continuing the crusade for building micro-foundations for management theory that Teppo and I initiated with our editorial essay in Strategic Organization last year ( “Strategic Organization: a Field in Search of Microfoundations"). We have now written the paper, "Building Micro-foundations for the Routines, Capabilities and Performance Links" as a further stride forward in the struggle against macro-mysticism in strategic management and organization theory. Here is the abstract:

Micro-foundations have become an important emerging theme in strategic management. This paper addresses micro-foundations in two related ways. First, we argue that the kind of macro (or “collectivist”) explanation that is utilized in the capabilities view in strategic management –which implies a neglect of micro-foundations –is incomplete. There are no mechanisms that work solely on the macro-level, directly connecting routines through capabilities to firm-level outcomes. While routines and capabilities are useful shorthand for complicated patterns of individual action and interaction, ultimately they are best understood at the micro-level. Second, we provide a formal model that shows precisely why macro explanation is incomplete and which exemplifies how explicit micro-foundations may be built for notions of routines and capabilities and for how these impact firm performance.

Because we may submit to a journal that prohibits uploading of papers while they are under review, reluctantly I must refrain from making the paper downloadable . However, If you would like to get a copy, send me a mail on

Entry filed under: - Foss -, Management Theory, Methods/Methodology/Theory of Science, Papers, Recommended Reading, Strategic Management.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • […] This brings me to a post today on the Organizations and Markets website. Nicolai Foss points to an essay in Strategic Organization he co-authored with Jacob Lyngsie on entrepreneurial activity in the established firm. The paper takes on the construct of the entrepreneurial opportunity as a useful explanans for entrepreneurial activity. See my wholehearted agreement with this issue here. But the paper caused me to think more about the relationship between two issues near and dear to Professor Foss’ heart: entrepreneurship as a function distinct from firm founding and the microfoundations of organizational theory and strategic management. See, for example, these posts on microfoundations at Organizations and Markets (here, here, and here). […]

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Our Recent Books

Nicolai J. Foss and Peter G. Klein, Organizing Entrepreneurial Judgment: A New Approach to the Firm (Cambridge University Press, 2012).
Peter G. Klein and Micheal E. Sykuta, eds., The Elgar Companion to Transaction Cost Economics (Edward Elgar, 2010).
Peter G. Klein, The Capitalist and the Entrepreneur: Essays on Organizations and Markets (Mises Institute, 2010).
Richard N. Langlois, The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism: Schumpeter, Chandler, and the New Economy (Routledge, 2007).
Nicolai J. Foss, Strategy, Economic Organization, and the Knowledge Economy: The Coordination of Firms and Resources (Oxford University Press, 2005).
Raghu Garud, Arun Kumaraswamy, and Richard N. Langlois, eds., Managing in the Modular Age: Architectures, Networks and Organizations (Blackwell, 2003).
Nicolai J. Foss and Peter G. Klein, eds., Entrepreneurship and the Firm: Austrian Perspectives on Economic Organization (Elgar, 2002).
Nicolai J. Foss and Volker Mahnke, eds., Competence, Governance, and Entrepreneurship: Advances in Economic Strategy Research (Oxford, 2000).
Nicolai J. Foss and Paul L. Robertson, eds., Resources, Technology, and Strategy: Explorations in the Resource-based Perspective (Routledge, 2000).