How Many Strategists Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb?

29 May 2009 at 10:32 pm 4 comments

| Peter Klein |

More profound musings from Joe Mahoney and Christos Pitelis, with additional contributions from Anita McGahan, Yasemin Kor, and myself (no attribution is given for individual entries, for our own protection). Please add your suggestions in the comments.

How many strategists does it take to change a light bulb?

“Only one, that will be $125, please.” — strategy consultant

“One, and the one who changes it achieves sustained competitive advantage.” — mainstream strategy scholar

“Approximately 1.0000000000000000000.” — one of the small cadre of mathematicians in the strategy field

“The first person who discovers the burned-out light bulb has an opportunity for entrepreneurial gain.” — Kirznerian strategic entrepreneurship scholar

“The old bulb will be swept away by the perennial gale of creative
destruction.” — Schumpeterian strategic entrepreneurship scholar

“Light bulbs are social constructs.” — trendy contemporary management scholar

“I can’t answer without first knowing the relevant players, strategy spaces, and preference maps.” — game theorist

“A light bulb unexamined is not worth changing.” — “Old-School” Harvard Business School professor who uses the Socratic Method

“None. This is an operational issue, not a strategic one.” — Chandler

“I do not know — but we should sack whoever did not take care of it.” — Jack Welch

“None — economizing is important, not strategizing.” — Williamson

“It depends on the strategist’s excess resources, learning, and productive opportunity.” — Penrose

“None — the best strategy is escape.” — Sun Tzu

“What do strategists do?” — Marglin, Landes

“It depends on the strategist’s dynamic capabilities to orchestrate
co-specialized and complementary assets and the appropriability regime.” — Teece

“The light bulb must be changed to advance the evolution of the world.” — evolutionary theory (with shades of John Dewey) within the strategic management field

“We must consider whether changing the light bulb will bring pleasure or pain to various stakeholders before we decide to change it at all.” — stakeholder branch of strategic management with shades of Epicurus

“None. The seeds of the revolution are contained within the light bulb itself.” — Marxian school of strategic management

“Light matters because it sheds, and the maximal number that would rationally be involved depends on the value of the shed light.” — anonymous

“People can consider objectively whether the light bulb needs to be changed, but must ultimately subject themselves to the will of God and change the light bulb.” — strategy with a whiff of (Francis) Bacon

“There is no need to change the light bulb since the market already took care of it.” — Chicago School view within the strategic management field

“There is no need to change the light bulb because the only true light is knowledge.” — Platonic subset of knowledge-based view (KBV)

“First we must understand what we mean by change.” — Aristotelian subset of KBV

“We need to know who habitually changes the light bulb as a standard operating procedure.” — behavioral theory of strategic management

“It is not the light bulb that matters, but the services available from the light bulb. Such services will be a function of the capacities of the person who changed it.” — Penrosian resource-based approach to strategic management

“We need to know who is motivated to change the light bulb.” — agency theory of strategic management

“We need to align within theory the light bulb changers with the characteristics of the light bulb in a discriminating way.” — transaction cost theory within the field of strategic management

“We must consider how changing the light bulb now will enable and constrain our future moves.” — real options lens within the strategic management field

“The light bulb must want to change first.” — cognitive school of strategic management

“This is the best of all possible light bulbs.” — neoclassical (Voltairean) property rights theorists

“The light bulb is dead.” — Nietzsche

“The light bulb must be changed to enable it to reach its ontological oneness-as-such.” — Martin Heidegger

“If you know the number, then you do not know where the socket is.” — Heisenberg Principle

“The question is absurd.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

“It does not make any difference; It is of no consequence.” — Albert Camus

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Management Theory.

Sociology that We Like You Go, Gordon Gekko!

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ben Rast  |  30 May 2009 at 8:19 am

    The light bulb will change spontaneously.

  • 2. Shawn Ritenour  |  30 May 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Fewer and fewer as the outlet moves from good to great. — Jim Collins

  • 3. Mark  |  31 May 2009 at 8:23 pm

    One, but the lightbulb has to be willing to change. – Wayne Dyer

  • 4. Lasse  |  2 June 2009 at 10:06 am

    It depends on the entry barriers. – Joe Bain

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