Over the past three decades strategic management has become a crucial aspect of business education and practice. At the core of strategic management - linking technique to worldview - is modelling (e.g. value chain, SWOT analysis) whereby the complex elements of strategic thinking are simplified. This accounts in large part for the apparent popularity of strategic management as complex interrelationships are pursued through relatively simple models. Yet has the field of strategic management realized the third order of simulacra? Is strategic management a model of simulation whereby reality has been replaced by hyperreality? A review of the extant literature on strategy explores the study and practice of strategy as a discourse, engulfed by its own truth effects. An examination of the concepts of reflexivity demonstrates the value of a postmodern radical reflexive account through the application of Baudrillard's (1983, 1988, 1991, 1994) simulation and simulacra. It is through the development of a radical reflexive discourse of strategy as simulacra, this paper critically examines the study and practice of strategy and the lessons we can take from this perspective. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2004.
Many firms worldwide have adopted environmental management systems, and some have taken the extra step and had their systems certified for the international standard ISO 14001. While institutional pressures and market demand often motivate firms to adopt an EMS, the reasons why they certify for ISO 14001 are less clear. In this study, we interviewed members of the Canadian pulp and paper industry who had either an EMS or ISO 14001 certification to understand why they may have become ISO 14001 certified. We found that task visibility and environmental impact opacity lead to differences in a firm's approach to ISO 14001 certification in the absence of coercive pressures. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2003.
This paper introduces the special themed section on organizational interactions involving universities and firms that result in the commercialization of research and technology. Our objective is to shed light on some of the most vexing, yet under-researched predicaments research institutions encounter, despite their best efforts to advance commercialization. First, we synthesize and extend recent studies, including the papers in the special themed section. Next, we develop a taxonomy of modes of commercialization. Specifically, we consider internal approaches, quasi-internal approaches (e.g. incubators), university research parks, regional clusters, academic spin-offs and start-ups, licensing, contract research and consultancy, corporate venture capital, and open science and innovation. We also identify areas for further research at the individual (e.g. heterogeneity of entrepreneurial teams and experience; incentives), organizational and intra-university (e.g. corporate governance; nature of growth strategies; relationships with trading partners; boundary spanning activities) and technology levels (e.g. institutional context; reconfiguration of technology; valuation of technology). Copyright (c) Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2008.
Using the upper echelons perspective together with corporate governance and strategic renewal literature, this paper investigates how top managers' corporate governance orientation influences a firm's strategic renewal trajectories over time. Through both a qualitative analysis (1907–2004) and a quantitative analysis (1959–2004), we investigate this under‐researched question within the context of a large incumbent firm: Royal Dutch Shell plc. Our results indicate that top managers having an Anglo‐Saxon corporate governance orientation are more likely to pursue exploitative and external‐growth strategic renewal trajectories, while those having a Rhine corporate governance orientation are more likely to pursue exploratory and internal‐growth strategic renewal trajectories. We also found a positive moderating effect of the proportion of shareholders from the Anglo‐Saxon countries on exploitative and external‐growth strategic renewal trajectories. Our findings indicate that top managers' corporate governance orientation can be an important antecedent of strategic renewal and of organizational ambidexterity, both of which influence corporate longevity.
This paper considers the interplay between technological discontinuities and competitive performance. Much of the work on technological discontinuities has focused on macro levels of analysis such as industries and technologies rather than specific firms. This study uses a historical perspective on Formula 1 motor racing to explore the dynamics between firm level performance and technological discontinuities over a 57 year period. The study supports the findings of previous research that incumbent firms are often unable to adapt to the impact of exogenous shocks. However the study also reveals situations where a relatively small number of firms are able to sustain their competitive superiority through a number of successive discontinuities. I suggest that, in addition to dynamic capabilities, these firms possess sustaining capabilities - munificent resource configurations which extend the time available for firms to adapt to technological changes - thereby allowing them to remain competitive across discontinuities. Copyright (c) 2010 The Author. Journal compilation (c) 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd and Society for the Advancement of Management Studies.
Business groups are a special type of enterprise system existing in almost every market economy. Member firms do not operate as isolated units in the markets but have institutionalized relationships with each other and work coherently as an entity. Groups play a central role in economies in which they operate. For Taiwan, the largest 100 groups produced one third of the GNP in the past 20 years. Why does this organizational form exist in the first place? This paper reviews three relevant theories, market-centered theories, culturalist perspective, and the institutional approach, and employs the data of 150 Taiwanese groups for the answer. The market-centered theories and the institutional arguments are examined statistically and the latter is supported by the data. Following this evidence, the Boolean comparison of group firms with non-group firms confirms that lacking a coherent core in ownership and management makes firms unable to respond to institutional incentives promptly. Finally, the structure of family ownership network in business groups refutes the cultural perspective which argues that the equal inheritance pattern of family property drives entrepreneurs to establish separate firms rather than single hierarchies. While both markets and culture play a distinct part in the story, it is regulatory institutions that lead to group formation.
We argue that Rugman and Verbeke (2002) underestimate the importance of Penrose's (1959) contributions to the modern resource-based view of the firm. In particular, we take issue with Rugman and Verbeke's (2002) arguments concerning Penrose's (1959) contributions to our knowledge of: (1) the "creation" of competitive advantage, (2) "sustaining" competitive advantage, (3) isolating mechanisms, and (4) competitive advantage and economic rents. In our response, we show that Penrose (1959) has both "directly" and indirectly influenced the modern resource-based view of strategic management. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2004.
Recent research on the commercialization of scientific discoveries has emphasized the use of formal intellectual property rights (notably patents) as a mechanism for aligning the academic and entrepreneurial incentives for commercialization. Without such explicit intellectual property rights and licensing, how is such open science commercialized? This paper examines the commercialization of Claude Shannon's theory of communications, developed at and freely disseminated by Bell Telephone Laboratories. It analyses the first 25 years of Shannon theory, the role of MIT in developing and extending that theory, and the importance of deep space communications as the initial market for commercialization. It contrasts the early paths of two MIT-related spinoffs that pursued this opportunity, including key technical and business trajectories driven by information theory. Based on this evidence, the paper provides observations about commercializing open science, particularly for engineering-related fields. Copyright (c) Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2008.
In this paper, we examine a firm's decision to enter new markets as related to the depth and breadth of its experience and the relative distance of those markets. We situate our discussion and analysis in the context of the venture capital (VC) industry, and examine whether and when US VC firms enter five high-technology investment markets through first- or later-round investments. This setting allows us to observe both the firms that chose to enter a new market and those that did not, and analyse the antecedents of these decisions. We find that VC firms overall are less likely to enter distant markets; those with broader experience are more likely to make first-round entries. In addition, VC firms with deeper investment experience are more likely to make first-round entries in proximate markets and less likely to enter distant markets and make later-round entries. These results offer interesting implications for the literature on organizational learning and entrepreneurship. Copyright (c) 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd and Society for the Advancement of Management Studies.
Weick’s theories of organizing and sensemaking help enrich the assumptions in the organization design school. This study builds on Weick’s theories of sensemaking to illustrate how three fundamental organization design assumptions — dominant variables, causal laws and executive dictates — were found to be restrictive in the explanation of redesign processes in the 1976 reorganization of the US intelligence community. The assumption of dominant variables was challenged by the appearance of a multitude of events, or enactments, which were selected by organization members for further attention. The assumption of causal laws was challenged by the appearance of individual-level cause maps which were filtered, through sensemaking processes, into organization-level workable realities. The assumption of executive dictates was challenged by the appearance of attempts to punctuate redesign processes as organizational decisions. The study suggests value in moving from simple organization design assumptions to more reliable findings drawn from detailed observations of redesign processes.
Sociological-based information theory and economics-based competitive rivalry theory operate as the dominant theories of interorganizational mimetic behaviour. Recent work has sought to integrate the ideas in these theories, or determine which has greater explanatory power. In this study, we juxtapose the concepts in these two theories, to illustrate the complementary nature of information-based and rivalry-based theories of mimetic behaviour. Specifically, we consider how the predictions of information-based theories are moderated by the home competitive context of the industry of a firm making an international expansion. Using a 1980 to 2002 sample of 4949 manufacturing plant entries made into 71 foreign countries by 783 publicly-listed Japanese manufacturing firms, we find that the competitive context in the home industry influences the propensity of a focal firm to imitate the actions of rival firms. Our results support our contention that the two theoretical approaches are complementary, with the complementarities extending from the limitations of each approach. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2007.
There is a growing body of literature that suggests that advanced economies are experiencing an economic restructuring such that the engines of economic development are smaller, more independent, firms acting in an increasingly cooperative manner. In assessing whether the UK economy is actually experiencing such a shift in inter-firm relations, the paper firstly assesses the existing evidence. This evidence suggests the continued dominance of large firms and only limited and uneven movements away from a low-trust system. Secondly, the paper presents evidence on the nature of inter-firm relations in the UK engineering construction industry in the 1980s and 1990s. the research shows considerable improvement in performance against schedule associated with the emergence of management contractors. Management contractors can improve performance either by adopting a high-trust route in which they seek to make overall efficiency gains by integrating design and construction, or by adopting a low-trust route in which they seek to reduce scope for opportunism by rigidifying design, and by passing on risk. Evidence is presented which shows that management contractors in the UK have so far predominantly adopted the low-trust route to improved performance. Cumulatively, the evidence suggests the dominance of the ‘top down’ control of inter-firm relations in the UK.
This paper assesses economic, political and national institutional explanations for continued resistance to the multidivisional form in France, Germany and the United Kingdom during the 1980s and 1990s. It finds that the economics of different diversification strategies play a significant but changing role in the structural choices of large corporations. The political interests of personal, banking and government owners are exercised variably. There remain strong national influences on structural choices, with resistance to the multidivisional form particularly pronounced in Germany. Overall, our results call for an increased contextual sensitivity in management research while acknowledging the possibility of convergent processes in business organization, represented here by the slow progress of the multidivisional firm. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2004.
Foreign direct investment [FDI] into the UK has grown considerably in recent years. In the period 1985-1994, US, French, German and Japanese companies accounted for the largest amounts of FDI into UK companies. Apart from greenfield and expansion investment, the main vehicle for inward FDI has been the acquisition of UK companies. Previous studies suggests that companies from each of the four main investing countries will adopt distinctive approaches to management, which may well be reflected in their post-acquisition policies. The present research examines whether nationally distinct approaches to management were introduced, following acquisition, among a sample of 201 UK subsidiaries of French, German, Japanese, US and UK companies. It provides data on the extent of changes and the post- acquisition influence of the new parent, comparing changes between the four foreign nationalities and a UK control group. The study indicates that the process of being acquired and controlled by a foreign parent company generally led to significant changes in management practice. Some changes were common to all acquisitions, including those by UK companies. A shift towards performance related rewards and a stronger quality emphasis in operations are two examples. In addition, there was also significant evidence of effects which differed between nationalities. These conformed to accepted characterizations of national management practice in the case of Japanese and US acquirers, but much less so in the case of French and German acquisitions. The findings suggest that present views of French and German management practice may require revision.
When Karl Weick's seminal article, 'Enacted Sensemaking in Crisis Situations', was published in 1988, it caused the field to think very differently about how crises unfold in organizations, and how emergent crises might be more quickly curtailed. More than 20 years later, we offer insights inspired by the central ideas in that article. Beginning with an exploration of key sensemaking studies in the crisis and change literatures, we reflect on lessons learned about sensemaking in turbulent conditions since Weick (1988), and argue for two core themes that underlie sensemaking in such contexts: shared meanings and emotion. We examine when and how shared meanings and emotion are more and less likely to enable more helpful, or adaptive, sensemaking, and conclude with some suggestions for future research in the sensemaking field. Copyright (c) 2010 The Authors. Journal compilation (c) 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd and Society for the Advancement of Management Studies.
This paper is based on empirical research conducted with directors in large UK organizations, first in 1987–89, and again in 1998–2000. While the time frame has changed, the focus of the inquiry has remained constant – how do you ‘run’ a large organization – and data gathered reflect significant changes over time as to how the question is answered. This paper addresses one particular aspect of this complex material: the changing power of practitioner and academic explanations across the decade, highlighted by comparing and contrasting this data and its analysis over time.
The paper illustrates a surprising degree of consistency (in contrast to 1987–89 findings) in practitioners’ contemporary explanations of their organizing: all talk of strategic focus, shareholder value and corporate governance, phrases previously never mentioned. This reflects a variety of changes across the decade, including an important concentration of power amongst investors. As well as the methodological implications of ‘repeating’ this study, the changing power of academics’ explanations ‘on’ organization is also discussed as conceptual frameworks gain and lose their resonance with the times. The paper concludes that sensemaking (Weick, 1995) offers the most appropriate perspective by which such shifts in the power of explanations may best be appreciated.
The rapid liberalization of the former state socialist economies of Eastern Europe coupled with privatization were thought by many in the early 1990s likely to generate effective capitalist firms quite quickly. However, the radical institutional transformation and collapse of Soviet markets resulted in considerable uncertainty for most companies which, together with high sunk costs and lack of resources, inhibited organizational restructuring and strategic change. Despite high levels of foreign ownership and control by the mid-1990s, many Hungarian companies continued to produce much the same kinds of products for mostly the same customers with inputs from mostly the same suppliers as in 1990. While most had reduced employment substantially, and many had disposed of ancillary organizational units, the bulk of the companies considered here had not greatly altered their work systems and overall organizational structures. In the few enterprises where the production process had been extensively reorganized by 1996, this was funded and directed by foreign firms who had taken them over. These foreign firm-controlled companies also tended to have new top managers from outside the enterprise. They additionally introduced new products more often than Hungarian firms, albeit within rather narrow product lines that usually dominated the domestic market. Overall, most of the enterprises studied were still doing much the same set of activities in the mid-1990s, though with fewer staff, as at the start of the decade, and privatization per se had not led to major shifts in enterprise structure and strategy, nor did it seem likely to do so in the foreseeable future.
Analyses of the foreign expansion of firms based on economics have recently been supplemented with institutionally-oriented studies demonstrating that foreign expansion is partly conditioned by the institutional environment in which the expanding firms are embedded. In this paper, we join this emerging stream of research with an empirical study on three Finnish-based paper industry firms from 1994 to 2000. By showing how changes in the patterns and forms of foreign expansion coincide with changes in the forms of corporate ownership and the cognitive constructions of organizational actors, our study confirms that foreign expansion cannot be adequately understood without reference to the institutional environment in which it originated. In particular, we show that foreign expansion can turn into an institutional requirement that directs the development of firms in part irrespective of the economic aspects involved. Copyright (c) Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2003..
We examine the location and relocation abroad of divisional headquarters of companies originating in a small country on the periphery of Europe. While the internationalization of business activities has been extensively studied for more than four decades, there is limited research on the strategic decision to locate divisional headquarters outside the home country. Our study shows a massive movement of headquarters functions between 2000 and 2006. Building on agency, resource based, and institutional perspectives, we propose that such moves are driven by efficiency/effectiveness as well as legitimacy factors. We find that state ownership and ownership concentration discourage MNCs from moving headquarters activities abroad, but national ownership does not. We also find that while MNCs may move their divisional headquarters to gain efficiency by co-locating with foreign subsidiaries, they keep them at home when the company becomes large, highly diversified and complex to manage.
An enduring concern within management and organization studies (MOS) is how to conduct research from perspectives deemed 'alternatives' to those of functionalism and positivism. Our aim is to address this concern with regard to an approach employed by Karen Legge in research on knowledge workers, namely that of actor-network theory (ANT) (or the 'sociology of translation'). Following an introduction to ANT, the views of some its key proponents, and Legge's own use of the approach, the paper presents critical notes on five issues related to the production of ANT accounts - the inclusion and exclusion of actors; the treatment of humans and non-humans; the nature of privileging and status; the handling of agency and structure; and the nature of politics and power in 'heterogeneous engineering'. We discuss the relationships between these issues and the key ANT goal of achieving a sense of 'general symmetry' in the accounting process. In so doing we note how ANT authors are frequently chastised for either failing to take sufficient account of, or promoting too strong a sense of, analytical symmetry in their writing. It is argued that the primary challenge facing ANT researchers is to produce accounts that are robust enough to negate the twin charges of symmetrical absence and symmetrical absurdity. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2004.
This study examined the relationship between sickness presenteeism, sickness absenteeism, organizational outcomes and employee health. In particular, we wanted to investigate to what degree employees were substituting sickness presence for sickness absence. Three hypotheses were tested to formalize this 'substitution proposition'. We surveyed a Canadian public service organization which was involved in a large scale downsizing initiative. For this study, 237 Personnel Corporation (pseudonym used) employees responded to the survey, representing a 66 per cent response rate. Survey results indicated that, while the workforce was of average health, sickness absenteeism was less than half that of the national average. The difference could be accounted for by sickness presenteeism - the average number of days employees attended work while ill or injured was greater than the number of days of sickness absence. The pattern of results supported the notion that employees were substituting presenteeism for absenteeism. The frequency and type of self-reported health problems were highly similar for presenteeism and absenteeism. Work factors (e.g. job security, supervisor support and job satisfaction) tested were significantly correlated with presenteeism. Presenteeism appears to be a stronger predictor of health than absenteeism, suggesting that efforts to improve workplace health may have a more immediate impact on presenteeism than on absenteeism. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2007.
We examine the performance effects of two knowledge-driven strategies - internal knowledge development and external knowledge access through inter-firm relationships - in the context of venture capital investing. Using longitudinal data on the investments, syndication, and performance of 200 US-based venture capital firms, we find that investing in industries in which a firm has more knowledge and investing with more or familiar external partners enhances investment performance. In addition, we reveal important interactions between the two strategies, such that access to external knowledge is particularly beneficial when the investment exposes gaps in the firm's own expertise. Thus, access to external knowledge is more effective when an incongruity exists between what the firm knows and what it intends to do. We discuss the study's implications for organizational knowledge and learning, strategic alliance, and venture capital literature. Copyright (c) Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2007.
The emerging knowledge-based view of the firm offers new insight into the causes and management of interfirm alliances. However, the development of an effective knowledge-based theory of alliance formation has been inhibited by a simplistic view of alliances as vehicles for organizational learning in which strategic alliances have presumed to be motivated by firms' desire to acquire knowledge from one another. We argue that the primary advantage of alliances over both firms and markets is in "accessing" rather than "acquiring" knowledge. Building upon the distinction between the knowledge generation ('exploration') and knowledge application ('exploitation'), we show that alliances contribute to the efficiency in the application of knowledge; first, by improving the efficiency with which knowledge is integrated into the production of complex goods and services, and second, by increasing the efficiency with which knowledge is utilized. These static efficiency advantages of alliances are enhanced where there is uncertainty over future knowledge requirements and where new products offer early-mover advantages. Compared with alternative learning-based approaches to alliance formation, our proposed knowledge-accessing theory of alliances offers the advantages of greater theoretical rigour and consistency with general trends in alliance activity and corporate strategy. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2004.
A neo-Gramscian theoretical framework for corporate political strategy is developed drawing from Gramsci's analysis of the relations among capital, social forces, and the state, and from more contemporary theories. Gramsci's political theory recognizes the centrality of organizations and strategy, directs attention to the organizational, economic, and ideological pillars of power, while illuminating the processes of coalition building, conflict, and accommodation that drive social change. This approach addresses the structure-agency relationship and endogenous dynamics in a way that could enrich institutional theory. The framework suggests a strategic concept of power, which provides space for contestation by subordinate groups in complex dynamic social systems. We apply the framework to analyse the international negotiations to control emissions of greenhouse gases, focusing on the responses of firms in the US and European oil and automobile industries. The neo-Gramscian framework explains some specific features of corporate responses to challenges to their hegemonic position and points to the importance of political struggles within civil society. The analysis suggests that the conventional demarcation between market and non-market strategies is untenable, given the embeddedness of markets in contested social and political structures and the political character of strategies directed toward defending and enhancing markets, technologies, corporate autonomy and legitimacy. Copyright Blackwell Publishers Ltd 2003.
Building on the work of Donald Schön and phenomenological treatments of practice, we propose a phenomenological theory of reflection-in-action that develops this concept further, thereby transcending a number of limitations we find in his theorizing. Our theory includes: an appreciation for the evaluative dimensions built into competent practice that encourage, if not require, reflecting; a further theorizing of the character of surprise; and a fuller delineation of the character of improvisation in relation to practice and its surprises. We begin with a phenomenological account of cognition in relation to work, especially in its form of professional practice. We reframe Schön's arguments in phenomenological, especially Heideggerian, terms and take account of relatively recent theorizing about knowledge-based work, illustrating these discussions with a vignette drawn from field research in the world of practice. We conclude with a discussion of the implications of these arguments for practitioners as well as for further theorizing. Copyright (c) Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2009.
In this paper, the structure and content of executive perceptions are considered using cognitive mapping to isolate ‘intuitive’ elements within their individual decision schemas. An inductive approach is used to develop three propositions drawn from the literature. These are explored using the results of interviews with senior executives of two UK retail organizations. Three of the maps represent different levels of seniority and roles and are used to explore potential differences within the organization. Similarities and differences between organizations are examined with reference to an additional map of an individual in a second organization. Propositions are interpreted and developed with reference to the maps and textual extracts from the interviews, to provide additional insight into the concept of intuition prior to larger-scale studies. The study highlights the need to explore differences in schemas both within and between different industry sectors. It emphasizes three important aspects of intuition as a way in which individuals ‘cut through’ a decision situation to make an ‘unexplained’ relationship between input and cognition without really thinking in-depth. First, they appear to trade-off depth for breadth of information. Second, they use personal experiences, surrogate indicators, and typologies to rationalize their decisions. Finally, the study shows there are important overlaps and differences in the content of decision schemas that represent ground for agreement and disagreement and as a basis for negotiating group decisions. These insights are used to redevelop and extend the propositions by way of conclusion.
The general aim of the paper is to shift interest in group communication in organizations in general and in committees in particular away from a prescriptive and rationalistic view detached from the organizational context towards a more analytical approach which takes account of important organizational issues of conflict, power and accountability. The paper outlines a theoretical model containing 11 propositions. The model contains definitions of rhetorical power (defined to be distinct from positional power), rhetorical accountability (defined to be different from organizational accountability for a task) and rhetorical conflict and contains 12 rhetorical variables which are language categories, and eight non-rhetorical variables. These language categories are argumentation elements which can be identified within any committee transcript such as proposals, challenges and questions and which have been derived from previously published and validated coding schemes. The model predicts that committee members will seek to maximize their rhetorical power by using some language categories and avoiding others, and that they will seek to vary the amount of rhetorical accountability they wish to claim depending on the likely success or failure of the project being discussed. The model also predicts that the proportions of language categories within any committee transcript will change depending upon how open or hostile the committee debate is, and that the proportions of language categories will also be changed by attempts by committee leaders to reduce rhetorical conflict by using some language categories and avoiding others. Several relations between rhetorical power and rhetorical conflict are hypothesized. According to the model, rhetorical power and rhetorical conflict can be manipulated by participants in beneficial ways only under some circumstances (those which characterize an open rather than a hostile committee debate). The model is related to several important non-rhetorical variables.
Empowerment initiatives have become popular in recent years in programmes of organizational change, but their impact as a practical managerial policy remains shrouded in ambiguities. We attempt to provide a fuller understanding of their impact, firstly by exploring managers' understanding of what constitutes empowerment, and secondly by locating the analysis of changes in managers' experiences of empowerment in the context of their experiences of changes in accountability practices. Drawing on data from interviews with managers and a mail questionnaire, we argue that the experience of empowerment is multi-faceted, and shaped by managers' attitudes towards it. Moreover we find that accountability plays a more significant and independent role in encouraging managers to engage in empowerment than has hitherto been acknowledged. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2006.
This article summarises the results of a survey on the accounting systems implemented in large Portuguese manufacturing firms. The literature review was used to define the hypotheses of the study and the analysis of data characterises the state of art of management accounting systems of the surveyed firms. The data was gathered by postal questionnaire. The study shows a preference for simple criteria in costing inventory-flow and in cost allocation methods for determining the cost of the product. The major conclusion is that simplicity is preferred over technical and statistical rigor.
In this paper I explore how graduate trainees account for change since joining a company. The participants were on a graduate-training scheme with a large, well known, high street chain. They were interviewed over a period of six months and asked to talk about their work. This paper is part of a larger study of graduates’ work experience. The extracts in this paper are taken from transcripts of the interviews, and are analysed using a discursive approach. These stories of work events have provided an arena for identity projects to be undertaken, where identity is regarded as a flexible resource. The participants acknowledge and refute change during their time with the company. In addition, they construct and contrast their self-descriptions with a company ‘ideal’. Furthermore, their accounts of being similar to other employees, yet at the same time unique, appear to illustrate a dilemma through contradiction. These dilemmas are negotiated in the talk through the construction and deployment of situated identities. I conclude that by attending to the detail of talk about work, understanding may be gained regarding ideological dilemmas that face new entrants to a work place. They draw on and refute commonly understood work place practices, while situating their identity in broader cultural projects. The participants attend to ‘norms’ and ‘culture’ while denying their relevance to their own particular patterns of behaviour. Accounts of learning to behave ‘appropriately’ and to avoid being ‘bloodied’ feature in their talk of adjustment since joining the company. This has relevance for the future training of graduates and understanding work place identities.
International mergers and acquisitions (M&As) often invoke national identification and national cultural differences. We argue that metonymy is a central linguistic resource through which national cultural identities and differences are reproduced in media accounts of international M&As. In this paper, we focus on two revealing cases: the acquisition of American IBM Personal Computer Division (PCD) by the Chinese company Lenovo and the acquisition of American Anheuser-Busch (A-B) by the Belgian-Brazilian company InBev. First, we identify the forms, functions, and frequencies of national metonymy in media accounts of these cases. We present a typology that classifies varieties of national metonymy in international M&As. Second, we demonstrate how these metonyms combine with metaphor to generate evocative imagery, engaging wit, and subversive irony. Our findings show that national metonymy contributes to the construction of emotive frames, stereotypes, ideological differences, and threats. Combinations of national metonymy with metaphor also provide powerful means to construct cultural differences. However, combinations of metonymy with wit and irony enable the play on meanings that overturns and resists national and cultural stereotypes. This is the first study to unpack the deployment of metonymy in accounts of international M&As. In doing so, it also opens up new avenues for research into international management and the analysis of tropes in management and organization.
Despite the centrality of fields as a concept in organizational research, the processes by which fields form and change have not been studied in great depth. By situating action in time and space, field-configuring events (FCEs) offer valuable settings for researchers seeking insight into such processes. This paper develops a theory of accounts as a way to understand a mechanism by which institutional entrepreneurs seek to shape fields and influence the institutions that govern them. Actors produce and distribute justified accounts - narratives that describe the way work in the field ought to be done - and attempt to persuade powerful actors in the field to adopt them as conventions. FCEs can thus be understood as loci for conventionalizing accounts. The theory of accounts and field-level change is illustrated with a case study of a turning point FCE during which competing institutional entrepreneurs in the field of 'non-profit technology assistance providers' present alternative accounts. Successful institutional entrepreneurship comes from recognizing political opportunities to align one's account with the dominant orders of worth in the field, thereby convincing powerful actors to accept one's account as convention. Copyright (c) Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2008.
This paper presents results from a longitudinal, qualitative study into the adoption of environmental management systems (EMS) in three companies in the UK water & sewerage industry. Based on institutional theory and the literature on EMS, four factors related to the adoption of EMS are identified: external and internal institutional forces, environmental performance issues, and economic performance issues. While previous literature has often assumed a balance of performance and institutional factors or a preponderance of performance factors, the results of this study indicate that institutional forces are the predominant drivers. The results further indicate that environmental performance issues become less important over time, whereas institutional drivers and economic performance rationales increase in importance over time. While conforming to institutional pressures can result in improved economic performance of a company, adoption of environmental management systems mostly on the basis of institutional and economic factors has wider repercussions for the state of corporate environmental management and progress towards greater ecological sustainability of business. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2007.
This research studied the influence of acculturation on the values of Hispanic MBAs in the USA and the effect these values have on job attribute preferences. As predicted, the less acculturated Hispanic MBAs had significantly higher collectivist values than either highly acculturated Hispanic or Anglo-American MBAs. Surprisingly, acculturation was not related to individualism. As theorized, collectivistic, and not individualistic, values were significantly related to a preference for contextual job attributes. In contrast, individualistic, and not collectivistic, values were related to a preference for task-related job attributes. The findings point to the importance of understanding an individual's level of acculturation and his/her specific values, rather than assuming differences based on ethnicity. In addition, the findings indicate that managers dealing with diversity within the USA or globally must understand their employees' individualistic/collectivistic values before implementing any job design initiatives. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2003.
Drawing on organizational learning theory, we distinguish the entrepreneurial processes of experience accumulation (i.e. gaining technological experience), and experience reactivation (i.e. leveraging the accumulated experience), as two essential stages of knowledge retention. While controlling for alliance experience, we further use new data of 196 biopharmaceutical R&D alliances to examine the effects of the technology recipient's accumulation and reactivation of technological experience on R&D alliance success. The patent‐based experience measures at the level of specific technology fields provide strong support for distinguishing experience accumulation and reactivation, which positively interact in interorganizational learning. Experience reactivation strengthens the positive effects of experience accumulation on alliance performance, and it contributes to avoiding organizational inertia in intertemporal knowledge transfer. In particular, our newly developed technology‐specific measures help to explain inconsistent findings of earlier studies, which often relied on firm‐level R&D expenditures to capture the level of prior technological knowledge and absorptive capacity.
This paper proposes that the mechanisms of external knowledge capture and internal knowledge transfer can best be understood at the micro-organizational level of Communities of Practice (CoPs) rather than at that of the subsidiaries’ network. The paper then offers a model of the dynamics of organizational learning in network organizations, such as MNEs, which builds on this unit of analysis. This model i) clarifies the link between CoPs and Networks of Practice (NoPs), by offering a novel conceptual model of how knowledge, particularly tacit, embedded knowledge, is absorbed, and ii) proposes a new link - that between CoPs and Internal Networks of Practice (INoPs), as another essential ingredient to knowledge accumulation and transfer within firms. We also propose that the firm-level architectural knowledge that is developed through INoPs is valuable and rare, and in combination with the component knowledge developed through NoPs, can create novel knowledge that may be a source of competitive advantage.
Based on expectancy theory, goal-setting theory and control theory we propose a model in which perceived fairness mediates the relationship between characteristics of employee performance management systems and their perceived effectiveness by employees. The model was tested on a sample of 3192 employees, using structural equation modelling. The findings advance research to the role and functionality of performance management systems by showing that (a) the manner in which performance management systems are shaped and executed is of fundamental importance for their effectiveness, (b) fairness partially mediates the relationship between performance management system characteristics and their effectiveness, and (c) the three motivational theories appear useful for understanding the consequences of performance management practices on individual employees.
In this article, we use the theory of planned behaviour to develop a model of small business managers' growth aspirations and the level of growth achieved. We empirically test this model on a large longitudinal data set of small firms using hierarchical regression. Consistent with previous findings and others' assumptions, we find that small business managers' aspirations to expand their business activities are positively related to actual growth. However, the relationship between aspirations and growth appears more complex than stated. It depends on the level of education and experience of the small business manager as well as the dynamism of the environment in which the business(es) operates. Education, experience and environmental dynamism magnify the effect that one's growth aspirations have on the realization of growth. Copyright 2003 Blackwell Publishing Ltd..
Two separately developed views within the strategic management literature elucidate the source of a firm's competitive advantage based on the internal attributes of the firm: the resource-based view (Wernerfelt, 1984) and the distinctive competence view (Selznick, 1957). As developed in the literature, however, both views neglect important dimensions which inhibit the achievement of competitive advantage. These dimensions are resource weaknesses and distinctive inadequacies. Accounting for weaknesses and inadequacies exposes important choice-sets confronting management in making resource investments, and of time-related dimensions in developing sustainable advantage. Considering the effects of weaknesses and inadequacies provides insight on the limits to firm growth and to sustainability of competitive advantage. Theory on developing competitive advantage may lack explanatory and predictive power if it excludes these perspectives, which if included may also improve prescription for practitioners.
The prevalent organizational form in most emerging markets is business groups. These groups have typically been viewed through a transaction cost economics perspective where they are perceived as responses to inefficiencies in the market. However, the evidence to date on what generates a positive business group-performance relationship in such environments is not well understood. This study expands the understanding of business groups by employing the resource-based and institutional theoretical perspectives to examine how groups acquire resources and capabilities to prosper. The empirical evidence is based on over 224 business groups in the emerging economy context of China and shows that most of the endowed government resources do not help business groups to create a competitive edge. Instead, those business groups with strategic actions to develop a unique portfolio of market-oriented resources and capabilities are most likely to prosper. The results provide critical insights on the relationship between the initiation of institutional transformation and the desired outcome to be realized by organizational transformation, thus enriching our understanding of institutions and strategic choices facilitated or constrained by organizational resources in emerging economies. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2005.
ABSTRACT The transformation and integration of acquired businesses is subject to tensions between implementing radical change to match the strategy and corporate culture of the acquirer, and promoting what is valuable in resources and cultural attributes in the acquired organization. Analysts’ disagreement arises from different conceptualizations of the nature of resources. We present an evolutionary perspective that demonstrates not only the merits of competitive selection, but of local adaptation of transferred resources and of stimulating the development of local ones.
Evidence from 18 original case studies in Hungary and East Germany shows that a defensive focus on short-term efficiency, i.e. downsizing, may fail to realize the long-term potential of the organization. Acquirers supporting an evolutionary development of their new subsidiary by providing autonomy and complementary resources might well have to tolerate some slack in the short run, but may realize more of the potential contributions of the acquired assets in the long run.
Previous studies in organizational economics and international business research have not tested a property rights view on the allocation of decision rights (DR) in joint ventures (JVs). The paper offers a test of the property rights explanation by using data from Hungarian JVs. Our analysis derives the following hypothesis: The more important the JV partner's intangible knowledge assets for the generation of residual surplus, the more residual DR are assigned to him. Copyright � 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Strategic alliances with pharmaceutical firms allow small biotechnology firms to acquire needed financial capital in exchange for sharing new, cutting-edge technologies. This study draws from aspects of resource-based view and social capital theory to examine the factors that influence the extent of financial capital biotech firms acquire when forming an alliance with pharmaceutical firms. Using a sample of 184 alliances from the period 1995-2000, we found that alliances where the pharmaceutical firm has greater management control are associated with greater acquisition of financial capital by the biotech firm. We also found that the credibility of the pharmaceutical firm is positively associated with the extent of financial capital acquired by the biotechnology firm and that the number of patents that the biotech firm has is negatively associated to the financial capital the biotech firm receives. We discuss the implications of our findings for theory, research, and management practice. Copyright (c) Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2008.
Though many studies have examined post-acquisition integration challenges, they have mainly focused on rationalistic explanations for the difficulties encountered in post-acquisition integration. There remains little knowledge of how the 'irrational' features of post-acquisition decision-making may impede organizational integration. This study attempts to bridge that gap by examining post-acquisition decision-making from a sensemaking perspective. The paper presents an in-depth analysis of a merger between a large Finnish furniture manufacturer and three smaller Swedish furniture companies. By focusing on the sensemaking processes surrounding integration issues, we uncover four interrelated tendencies that illuminate why the frequent problem of slow progress during post-acquisition integration occurs: inherent ambiguity concerning integration issues; cultural confusion in social interaction and communication; organizational hypocrisy in integration decision-making; and the politicization of integration issues. Copyright Blackwell Publishers Ltd 2003.
This paper develops a communication‐based theory of the choice by multinational enterprises (MNEs) between greenfield and acquisition entry. It argues that MNE parents communicate with their subsidiaries for reasons of knowledge exchange, coordination, monitoring, and socialization. The expected communication costs arising from these activities are argued to increase with the verbal communication barriers existing between a prospective subsidiary and its parent, but this increase is argued to be larger for acquisitions because they require more extensive parent–subsidiary communication than greenfields. I therefore hypothesize that verbal communication barriers have positive effects on the likelihood that MNEs choose greenfield over acquisition entry. I also hypothesize that these effects are weaker for prospective subsidiaries that will have more autonomy or local co‐owners. An analysis of 231 entries by Dutch MNEs into 48 countries lends substantial support to these hypotheses, indicating that geographic and linguistic barriers to verbal communication play important roles in MNEs' establishment mode decisions.
This study suggests that paying acquisition premiums leads to workforce reductions in the merged firm, which in turn results in poorer post-acquisition performance. This issue is important to scholars and practising managers given the pervasiveness and importance of knowledge and human capital to competitive advantage. In a sample of 174 major related acquisitions completed in the period 1992-98, results show a positive relationship between the premium paid for an acquisition and subsequent workforce reductions, controlling for a number of alternative explanations. Additionally, workforce reduction mediates the negative relationship between premiums and post-acquisition performance. The results suggest that the effects of workforce reductions following large premiums paid for the acquired firm can be detrimental to the interests of the organization. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2007.
Knowledge acquisition is central to entrepreneurship when explaining successful venturing. However, little is known about how knowledge acquisition during early venture development affects desirable venture outcomes. This study draws on the knowledge‐based view and social network theory to develop and test a conceptual model of knowledge acquisition using a sample of early‐stage technology entrepreneurs operating in university‐affiliated incubators. We examine how an entrepreneur's acquisition of different types of knowledge and reliance on their network for knowledge relate to outcomes of product/service innovativeness and first‐year venture sales. Results suggest that acquiring technology knowledge positively relates to the innovativeness of products/services developed by entrepreneurs. Moreover, entrepreneurs can enhance this positive relationship by relying more on networks for technology knowledge acquisition.
From the perspective of the vendors in emerging countries (VECs), this article investigates how the vendor firms in China respond to cross-border outsourcing trends differently by examining the different effects of entrepreneurial orientation (EO) and market orientation (MO), as well as their interaction, on local vendors' acquisition of knowledge from foreign outsourcers in cross-border outsourcing. We find that the knowledge acquisition of the vendors positively affects firm performance. Thus, the vendors need to correctly choose their strategic orientation to improve the knowledge acquisitions. Our results show the EO of the vendors has a positive effect on the knowledge acquisition, but the relationship between MO and the knowledge acquisition is an inverted U-shape. Further, the interactive effect between EO and MO on the knowledge acquisition is positive. All these findings extend the literature in organizational learning and cross-border outsourcing, and suggest that VECs should not only correctly choose their strategic orientation, but also pay more attention to the orientation interaction in acquiring knowledge from their partners through cross-border outsourcing so that they can more efficiently improve their performance. Copyright (c) 2010 The Authors. Journal of Management Studies (c) 2010 Blackwell Publishing Ltd and Society for the Advancement of Management Studies.
abstractStudying repetitive acquisition and alliance behaviours from a temporal perspective, we conceptualize a taxonomy of sequence patterns. Our approach defines sequences as the set of acquisition and alliances a firm initiates each year over its life‐course. Using optimal matching techniques and clustering analysis, we empirically identify seven different sequence patterns and demonstrate that firm and performance attributes differ across these sequences and depending on the contingent effect of a firm's stage of development. We discuss the implications of our taxonomy and findings for our understanding of the temporal management of alliance portfolios and acquisition programmes.