The Diversity of Strategic Management Research

30 November 2010 at 1:46 pm 9 comments

| Peter Klein |

In my graduate class this morning we were discussing the diversity of theories and approaches in strategic management research when a useful illustration came to mind. I recently registered as a reviewer for the upcoming SMS conference and, as requested, indicated my areas of interest and expertise. The lists for “Theory” and “Method,” reproduced below, are instructive. I mean, can you imagine such lengthy lists for the AEA meeting or a conference in accounting or finance? (OK, perhaps still too short for some. . . .)

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Conferences, Management Theory, Methods/Methodology/Theory of Science, Strategic Management.

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9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Randy  |  30 November 2010 at 2:18 pm

    So… how many of the theory categories do YOU count as theory?

    And I can’t see why the list breaks out so many variants of the limited dependent variable regression method. And N,K models from simulation. And financial events from event history. And the panel/cross-sectional categories.

    I must be stuck in the 1970s.

  • 2. Peter Klein  |  30 November 2010 at 2:22 pm

    I agree, the lists are pretty sloppy (no doubt the product of a Committee on Categories). Even if we tidied them up, however, the result would hopefully illustrate my point.

    Note I didn’t say what categories I checked. I have to leave something to the reader’s imagination.

  • 3. Scott Masten  |  30 November 2010 at 3:25 pm

    How about ISNIE’s list?

    Political Systems and Institutions
    [ ] Constitutions and Political Systems
    [ ] Administration and Bureaucracy
    [ ] Voting, Politics, and Elections
    [ ] Legislative Organization and Rules

    Law and Legal Institutions
    [ ] Property Rights
    [ ] Intellectual Property
    [ ] Commercial and Financial Law and
    [ ] Competition Law and Policy
    [ ] The Legal System, Courts, and Judges
    [ ] Other (Tort, Criminal; etc.)

    Regulation, Public Procurement, and Public Provision
    [ ] Regulation and Regulatory Institutions
    [ ] Public Procurement and Public Provision

    Development and Economic Transition
    [ ] Political and Economic Transition
    [ ] Economic Institutions and Performance

    Historical Analysis of Institutions and Organization
    [ ] Institutional Change and Evolution

    Organization and Markets
    [ ] Contracting and Private Ordering
    [ ] Firm Boundaries and Internal Organization
    [ ] Market Institutions and Organization
    [ ] Nonprofits, Cooperatives, and Associations
    [ ] Corporate Governance and Finance

    Norms, Culture, & Behavior
    [ ] Norms. Customs, and Culture
    [ ] Human Behavior
    [ ] Experimental and Neuroeconomics

  • 4. Peter Klein  |  30 November 2010 at 4:18 pm

    ISNIE’s is good, but note that it’s a list of phenomena, not a list of theories or methods. SMS has that too (which it calls “Context”):

    Boards of Directors
    Bottom of the Pyramid
    Change Management
    Compensation, Bonuses, and Benfits
    Competitive Dynamics
    Competitor Analysis
    Cooperative Strategy
    Coordination/Mgmt Multinational Firms
    Corporate Governance
    Decision Making (Groups)
    Decision Making (Individual/CEO )
    Decision Processess
    Decisions Under Risk/Uncertainty
    Emerging Market Strategies
    Environmental/socially Responsible Strategy
    Executive Compensation
    Executive Succession
    First/Late Mover Advantages
    Generic Business Level Strategies
    Global Strategy
    Industry Evolution
    Initial Public Offerings (IPOs)
    Innovation Management
    International Diversification
    Knowledge Transfer/replication
    Leveraged Buyouts (LBOs)
    Management History
    Managing Family & Entrepreneurial Firms
    Market Entry Modes (Alliances/JV/FDI, etc.)
    Mergers & Acquisitions
    Organizational Culture
    Organizational Politics & Power
    Organizational Structure
    Patents and R&D Strategies
    Political Strategy
    Restructuring (Divestitures)
    Social Responsibility
    Sourcing Strategies
    Strategic Alliances / JVs
    Strategic Groups
    Strategic Networks
    Strategic Planning Systems (Vision/Mission)
    Technological Change
    Venture Capital
    Vertical Integration

  • 5. JC Spender  |  30 November 2010 at 4:52 pm

    OK, phenomena, theories and methodologies may seem different, at least for some. But such distinctions seem peripheral to Peter’s point.

    The SMS’s list of theories reminds me of looking for something lost. You look in the car, the kid’s bedroom, the kitchen cupboards … drat, where is that thing?

  • 6. Warren Miller  |  30 November 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Since SMS claims (ha!) that it is an organization of “As, Bs, and Cs” (academics, business executives, and consultants, respectively), I wonder why there is no provision for an assessment of “Relevance to Practice.” Too many scholars make assertions of relevance for their research, when, in fact, they have never worked as an employee of a for-profit business. Their claims are assessed by like-minded colleagues also out of touch, so the code of irrelevance perpetuates itself.

    Here is what it says about itself:

    A Professional Society for the Advancement of Strategic Management

    The Strategic Management Society (SMS) is unique in bringing together the worlds of reflective practice and thoughtful scholarship. The Society consists of 2,600 members representing a kaleidoscope of backgrounds and perspectives from more than 60 different countries. Membership, composed of academics, business practitioners, and consultants, focuses on the development and dissemination of insights on the strategic management process, as well as on fostering contacts and interchange around he world.

    Hogwash. SMS’s increasing insularity and steadfast insistence on deluding itself with such bogus claims make it increasingly IRrelevant. That is unfortunate. It wasn’t always this way. However, it has become an organization that is of, by, and for the As. Bs and Cs are barely tolerated and then only because of check-writing capabilities. I saw this first-hand at a contentious session at the recent SMS conference in Rome where the notion of a “certification” in strategic management was rolled out. Most of the As at that particular session went ballistic in their opposition to such an idea. I, on the other hand, pointed out that a certification was “the one thing” that can bring a lot of Bs and Cs to SMS. More than one person said to me afterwards, “We don’t want Bs and Cs.”

    If SMS keeps this up–and I suspect it will–it will lose the support of Bs and Cs. Very sad and so unnecessary. But if it doesn’t walk its own talk, then the Bs and Cs will ourselves walk. . .and take our checkbooks with us. The U.S. economy doesn’t need the kind of schism I describe, but I am convinced that, to borrow from Rhett Butler, “Frankly, my dear[s], [the As] don’t give a damn.” Too many of them would rather be precisely rigorous than approximately relevant.

  • 7. Bo  |  1 December 2010 at 11:40 am

    I recently read the new book by Steven Hawkins where he is looking for the theory of everything…he finds M-theory to be the closest we have one for management?

    Looking at this list of “theories” I am wondering if the area is ripe fo some consolidation of theories into more fundamental (and useful) theoretical frameworks or meta-theories….

  • 8. Rafe  |  1 December 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Bo, you are way behind the play. Try Austrian theory:)

    The method is Situational Analysis! (not on the list)

  • 9. Bo  |  2 December 2010 at 9:46 am

    Yes…I am way behind…though I was thinking more in terms of quantum theory…

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