Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road: Strategic Management Edition

21 February 2009 at 10:34 am 17 comments

| Peter Klein |

Joe Mahoney and Christos Pitelis have produced their most original, and possibly most enduring, piece of scholarly work, reprinted here by permission:

Why did the chicken cross the road?

“We must first study the chickens in aggregate; once we understand the chicken industry, then we can explain the individual chicken’s conduct.” — Joe Bain

“We must study the potential mobility barriers of a meaningful strategic group of chickens to understand the individual chicken’s conduct.” — Richard Caves

“The reason for the chicken’s behavior is causally ambiguous.” — Richard Rumelt

“The behavior of the chicken is socially embedded.” — Mark Granovetter

“The chicken is merely following its standard operating procedures.” — Richard Cyert and James March

“Walking across the street is a core competence of the chicken.” — Gary Hamel

“Walking across the street is the chicken’s strategic intent.” — C. K. Prahalad

“It is the chicken’s dominant logic.” — Richard Bettis

“It is simply a routine of the chicken.” — Sidney Winter

“In a complex environment such behavior is the chicken’s dynamic capability.” — David Teece

“”We will need to triangulate to understand the ESSENCE OF DECISION of the chicken.” — Graham Allison

“The chicken is attempting to economize on bounded rationality and attenuate opportunism.” — Oliver Williamson

“The chicken is choosing purposefully based on its perception of its subjective opportunity set.” — Edith Tilton Penrose

“The chicken will likely be hit by a car.” — Population ecology theorists

“The chicken is driven to seek power and resources from the other side of the road.” — Jeffry Pfeffer

“The chicken’s walking is part of its activity system.” — Michael Porter

“The chicken’s walking is a discovery procedure; a kind of chicken’s spontaneous order.” — Friedrich Hayek

“The fact that the chicken continues to walk across the road, indicates that the chickens walking has been transformed from a core capability to a core rigidity.” — Dorothy Leonard Barton

“To position itself.” — Porter

“Because the path is more interesting than the equilibrium position.” — Penrose

“Learning by doing.” — Arrow

“Because of procedural (ir)rationality.” — Simon

“To effect intra-chicken conflict resolution.” — Cyert and March

“To experience unit cost economies.” — Chandler

“To claim the residual corn.” — Alchian and Demsetz

“Spontaneous dis-order.” — Mises

“For creative distraction.” — Schumpeter, before he learned English

“To avoid chicken capture.” — Stigler

“Because of market failure.” — Coase

“It has nothing to lose except the oven.” — Marx

“Because of its animal spirit.” — Keynes

“To collect dispersed knowledge.” — Hayek

“Just to be on the safe side.” — Knight

“A road unexamined is not worth crossing.” — Socrates

“To return to God.” — St. Augustine

“It is due to the chicken’s monads.” — Leibniz

“To advance the evolution of the world.” — John Dewey

“The chicken is absurd.” — Sartre

“It does not make a difference.” — Albert Camus

“All I know is that I don’t know.” — Plato

“It just keeps walking.” — Johnny Walker

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17 Comments Add your own

  • 1. pj  |  21 February 2009 at 12:36 pm


    But isn’t it remarkable how the life’s work of the world’s greatest management thinkers can be summed up, with only slight loss of content, in single sentences?

  • 2. Salvador  |  21 February 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Because it was a crossing it can believe in ( a democrat)

    It just did it ( Nike)

    It didn’t cross , the road changed it relative position to the chicken ( Einstein)

    Since we were checking its speed we don’t know where it is ( Heisemberg)

    Only to discover there is another road to cross ( Plank)

    It crossed and didn’t cross at the same time , we will know when we open the box ( Schrodinger)

    It was a moral categorical imperative( Kant)

    It was trying to embody the absolute objectivity ( Hegel)

    It didn’t cross , when it reached halfway , it was the same go forward or back . So it is still there .( Ockam)

    Nobody where there too see it crossing. So it didn’t cross ( Comte)

    It didn’t cross , it was a CNN created reality. ( Derrida)

    It didn’t cross , it is a discourse intended to fulfill the domination lust of the technical scientific complex (Lyotard)

    Because it was a punishment to force conformity over dissidents ( Foucault)

  • 3. david  |  21 February 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Transaction costs

  • 4. REW  |  21 February 2009 at 4:21 pm

    I am awestruck. Pithy, yet pointed.

    Joe and Christos, what shall I use as the original citation? Perhaps a nonworking paper?

  • 5. Ivan  |  22 February 2009 at 3:46 am

    There is one mystake:

    “All that I know is that I don’t know”, it was Socrates, not Plato.

  • 6. Bart  |  22 February 2009 at 11:03 am

    All good guesses, but you’ll never really know unless you read this

  • 7. Bart  |  23 February 2009 at 6:27 am

    Hmmm, a dead link, here’s the live one

  • […] On the ambulatory practices of poultry — The Organizations and Markets blog offers the strategic management edition analyzing an age-old conundrum: Why did the chicken cross the road? […]

  • 9. Back to B-School mobile edition  |  23 February 2009 at 11:26 am

    […] and Markets blog offers the strategic management edition analyzing an age-old conundrum: Why did the chicken cross the road? posted by Stacy Blackman February 23, 2009 @ 8:26 […]

  • 10. Taoist  |  25 February 2009 at 9:49 pm

    There is no chicken.

  • 11. Nihilist  |  25 February 2009 at 9:50 pm

    There is no road.

  • 12. John  |  26 February 2009 at 5:20 pm

    why did the chicken cross the playground? to get to the other SLIDE.

  • 13. Gene Callahan  |  27 February 2009 at 12:10 am

    “It is the chicken’s tradition to cross roads.” — Oakeshott

    Oh, and Ivan — Socrates never wrote anything. So that was said by a *character* named Socrates in a dialogue written by Plato.

  • 14. Ramya TV  |  24 March 2009 at 4:36 am

    The chicken must have crossed the road to gain first mover advantage over the egg, thereby the chicken came first and the long standing chicken and egg problem finally had a solution: -Shamsie, Jamal

    The road, the chicken and the crossing came together seeking each other and it obviously made sense to cross the road.-Weick

    Or, the chicken might have wanted to write a critique of Bill Gates “The Road Ahead”

  • 16. pt  |  14 December 2009 at 5:16 pm

    I dream of a better tomorrow… where chickens can cross roads and not have their motives questioned

  • 17. Manga  |  8 July 2010 at 10:54 am

    Chicken, chicken, chicken
    The landscape has changed, there is climate change now and she needs to save the world, Yes this is why the chicken crossed the road – its no longer relevant to remain this side of the road

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