Debating Microfoundations, Euro-style

21 August 2014 at 6:13 am 14 comments

| Nicolai Foss |

As readers of this blog will know, probably to a nauseating extent, microfoundations have been central in much (macro) management theory over the last decade. Several articles, special issues, and conferences have been dedicated to microfoundations, most recently a Strategic Management Society Special Conference at the Copenhagen Business School. Some, uhm, highlyspirited exchanges have taken place (e.g., AoM 2013), with proponents of those foundations being accused of economics imperalism and whatnot, and critics of microfoundations receiving push-back for endorsing defunct Durkheimian collectivism (an obviously justified criticism). Here is recent civilized exchange on the subject between Professor Rodolphe Durand, HEC Paris, and myself. Complete with heavy Euro accents of different origins. 

Entry filed under: - Foss -, Management Theory, Methods/Methodology/Theory of Science.

History Lesson: 200 Years of Management, uhm, Thought Theories of the Firm

14 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Randy  |  21 August 2014 at 11:33 pm

    Very civilized, indeed! And both less offensive and less defensive than some previous discourse on the subject. ;-)

    Nicolai, your point about the need for empirical confirmation stands out among the many important points made by you and by Prof. Durand.Good stuff!

  • 2. spender7  |  25 August 2014 at 11:46 am

    As with @Randy – very civilized. Also revealing. Many thanks indeed for sharing this.

  • 3. spender7  |  25 August 2014 at 11:48 am

    Are there any similar videos from the June CPH SMS conference?

    I was sorry to miss the event.

  • 4. spender7  |  25 August 2014 at 2:03 pm

    Forgot to ask – who are the two Frenchmen? Tricky to guess from the video.

  • 5. Nicolai Foss  |  25 August 2014 at 2:09 pm

    Randy: Many thx!!
    JC: Unfortunately no videos from the Cph conference. I forgot the name of the Frenchman who is not Durand. I think he is a prof in Rennes.

  • 6. spender7  |  25 August 2014 at 3:09 pm

    you had two portraits – Comte?? and ??

  • 7. Randy  |  25 August 2014 at 7:48 pm


  • 8. spender7  |  25 August 2014 at 8:01 pm

    He was worthy of a portrait. But how about Bergson? Alas, ignored.

  • 9. Randy  |  25 August 2014 at 8:18 pm

    @JC: They are a young Alexis de Tocqueville and (I think) a very late portrait of Pierre Bourdieu. Nicolai can correct me if I am wrong.

    As for the moderator, I have seen him in my past but I do not recall his name.

  • 10. Nicolai Foss  |  26 August 2014 at 3:29 am

    Randy, JC: I clearly misunderstood JC. They are Tocqueville and the great Raymond Boudon.

  • 11. spender7  |  26 August 2014 at 7:21 am

    Aha – mystery solved. Thanks.

  • […] management. See, for example, these posts on microfoundations at Organizations and Markets (here, here, and […]

  • 13. JC  |  25 September 2014 at 2:31 am

    Hi Nicolai,

    I’m sorry that the three months work that I put into the micro-foundations discussion and the resulting SMS session got boiled down to a three-minute talk in which I was able to make only two points – that Felin & Foss (2005) is a rather intemperate paper – which your delightful and informative video with Rodolphe concedes – and that it would be good to make the CMFP (current micro foundations project) community aware of Homans, G. C. (1964). Bringing Men Back In. American Sociological Review, 29(6), 809-818. i.e. this is a methodological pendulum issue.


  • 14. spender7  |  25 September 2014 at 2:38 am

    got a tad messed up posting comment #14 – Thomas Kalling and I were working on this.

    Second, the discussion should send readers back to Keynes, J. N. (1904). The Scope and Method of Political Economy (3rd ed.). London: Macmillan & Co. which I know you and Teppo cite but I am not sure we read similarly.

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