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Organizational happiness is an intuitively attractive idea, notwithstanding the difficulty of defining happiness. A preference for unhappiness rather than happiness in an organization would be out of tune with community expectations in most societies, as would an organization that promoted unhappiness. Some argue that organizational happiness is a misconception, that happiness is a personality trait and organizations cannot have personality. Others suggest that organizational happiness is derived from, or at least dependent on, the happiness of the individuals in the organization. A third approach involves virtue ethics, linking organizational happiness to virtuous organizations. Some discussion of the nature of happiness is needed before consideration of these three approaches to the concept of organizational happiness. If one leaves aside the notion of happiness as a psychological state, there remain three main views as to the nature of happiness: one based on a hedonistic view, which grounds happiness in pleasure, one based on the extent to which desire is satisfied, and one where happiness is linked to a life of virtuous activity and the fulfillment of human potential. Some would see no distinction between all three senses of happiness and what is called well-being.
Whether or not organizations can experience happiness is to some extent determined by whether happiness is considered subjective well-being, fulfilled desire, or virtue and to some extent by one’s view of the moral nature of corporations. There are dangers in the unfettered pursuit of happiness. Empirical research is impacted by questions of definition, by changes over time for both individuals and society, and by the difficulty that arises from reliance on self-reported data. Recent decades have seen the publication of quantitative assessments of organizational happiness, despite the difficulty of constructing scales and manipulating data, and the problems of effectively taking into account cultural, organizational, and individual differences in concepts of happiness. Potential research questions fall into two groups, those that seek a better understanding of what happiness is and those that seek to collect data about happiness in pursuit of answers to questions about the benefits of happiness.
Innovation is a complex construct and overlaps with a few other prevalent concepts such as technology, creativity, and change. Research on innovation spans many fields of inquiry including business, economics, engineering, and public administration. Scholars have studied innovation at different levels of analysis such as individual, group, organization, industry, and economy. The term organizational innovation refers to the studies of innovation in business and public organizations.
Studies of innovations in organizations are multidimensional, multilevel, and context-dependent. They investigate what external and internal conditions induce innovation, how organizations manage innovation process, and in what ways innovation changes organizational conduct and outcome. Indiscreet application of findings from one discipline or context to another, lack of distinction between generating (creating) and adopting (using) innovations, and likening organizational innovation with technological innovation have clouded the understanding of this important concept, hampering its advancement. This article organizes studies of organizational innovation to make them more accessible to interested scholars and combines insights from various strands of innovation research to help them design and conduct new studies to advance the field.
The perspectives of organizational competition and performance and organizational adaptation and progression are introduced to serve as platforms to position organizational innovation in the midst of innovation concepts, elaborate differences between innovating and innovativeness, and decipher key typologies, primary sets of antecedents, and performance consequences of generating and adopting innovations. The antecedents of organizational innovation are organized into three dimensions of environmental (external, contextual), organizational (structure, culture), and managerial (leadership, human capital). A five-step heuristic based on innovation type and process is proposed to ease understanding of the existing studies and select suitable dimensions and factors for conducting new studies. The rationale for the innovation–performance relationship in strands of organizational innovation research, and the employment of types of innovation and performance indicators, is articulated by first-mover advantage and performance gap theory, in conjunction with the perspectives of competition and performance and of adaptation and progression. Differences between effects of technological and nontechnological innovation and stand-alone and synchronous innovations are discussed to articulate how and to what extent patterns of the introduction of different types of innovation could contribute to organizational performance or effectiveness. In conclusion, ideas are proposed to demystify organizational innovation to allure new researches, facilitate their learning, and provide opportunities for the development of new studies to advance the state of knowledge on organizational innovation.
Henrich R. Greve
Organizational learning theory is motivated by the observation that organizations learn by encoding inferences from experience into their behavior. It seeks to answer the questions of what kinds of experiences influence behaviors, how and under what circumstances behaviors change, and how new behaviors are stabilized and have consequences for organizations’ adaptation to their environment. Organizational learning research has as key mechanisms innovations and other triggering events that lead to major behavioral change, knowledge accumulation and experimentation that encourage incremental change, and interpretations that guide each of these processes. Organizational learning research has gained a central position in organizational theory because it has implications for organizational behaviors that also affect other theoretical perspectives such as institutional theory, organizational ecology, and resource dependence.
Key research topics in organizational learning and adaptation are (a) organizational routines and their stability and change, (b) performance feedback and its consequences for organizational search and change, (c) managerial goal formation and coalition building, (d) managerial attention to goals and organizational activities, and (e) adaptive consequences of learning procedures. Each of these topics has seen significant research, but they are far from completing their empirical agenda. Recently, organizational learning research has been very active, especially on the topics of routines, performance feedback, and attention, resulting in a strong increase in learning and adaptation research in management journals.
Vinícius Chagas Brasil and J.P. Eggers
In competitive strategy, firms manage two primary (non-financial) portfolios—the product portfolio and the innovation portfolio. Portfolio management involves resource allocation to balance the important tradeoff of risk reduction and upside maximization, with important decisions around the evaluation, prioritization and selection of products and innovation projects. These two portfolios are interdependent in ways that create reinforcing dynamics—the innovation portfolio is the array of potential future products, while the product portfolio both informs innovation strategy and provides inputs to future innovation efforts. Additionally, portfolio management processes operate at two levels, which is reflected in the literature's structure. The first is a micro lens which focuses on management frameworks to boost portfolio performance and success through project-level selection tools. This research has its roots in financial portfolio management, relates closely to research on new product development and marketing product management, and explores the effects of portfolio management decisions on other organizational functions (e.g., operations). The second lens is a macro lens on portfolio management research, which considers the portfolio as a whole and integrates key organizational and competitive concepts such as entry timing, portfolio management resource allocation regimes (e.g., real options reasoning), organizational experience, and the culling of products and projects. This literature aims to set portfolio management as higher level organizational decision-making capability that embodies the growth strategy of the organization. The organizational ability to manage both the product and innovation portfolios connects portfolio management to key strategic organizational capabilities, including ambidexterity and dynamic capabilities, and operationalizes strategic flexibility. We therefore view portfolio management as a source of competitive advantage that supports organizational renewal.
Isabel Boni-Le Goff and Nicky Le Feuvre
Professions or professional occupations have been studied through a large number of empirical and theoretical lenses over the last decades: as potential substitutes for organizations and markets, as protected labor markets, and as the site of the subjective experiences and socialization processes of their members. Combining a sociological and a gender perspective, a growing number of studies have shed new light on the growth and dynamics of professional occupations since the mid-20th century. They show how the massive entry of women into the upper reaches of Western labor markets has played a major role in the expansion and reconfiguration of the professions. However, by studying the barriers to women’s access to once exclusively masculine environments, scholars tend to show that the feminization processes coexist with persistent inequalities in income, promotion opportunities, career patterns, and access to leadership positions, popularized by the metaphor of the “glass ceiling” effect.
These contradicting trends—numerical feminization and the persistence of gender inequalities—have inspired a large range of empirical research projects and conceptual innovations. This article distinguishes three ways of framing the gendered dynamics of professional and managerial occupations.
A first way of framing the issue adopts a resolutely structural perspective, presenting feminization as a process that ultimately leads to the crystallization of traditional gender inequalities, thus confronting women with the risk of deprofessionalization or dequalification. Some of these studies observe variations in the rhythms and patterns of feminization across occupations. They reveal complex processes whereby the overall increase in women’s education levels comes with the persistence of gender-differentiated choices of study and occupation. Rhythms and patterns of feminization may also differ within a given occupation, from one specialty to another and from one type of organization to another, depending on the internal hierarchy of the occupation. Very significant gaps may also be observed according to employment status: wage labor or self-employment, for example.
A second way of framing the question adopts an organizational-level perspective; showing, for example, that a “glass ceiling” systematically hampers women’s career progression in all sectors of the labor market. These studies explore the combination of direct and indirect discriminatory processes—from the persistence of “old boys’ networks” to the legitimation of certain gendered body images of professionalism—within different organizational and professional contexts. In the face of such resistance, women’s career progression is particularly slow and arduous, both due to the prevailing symbolic norms of leadership models and due to the collective strategies of closure by male professionals at the organizational level.
Finally, a third way of framing the issue adopts a more holistic perspective, with a stronger focus on the agency of women within the occupational context and on the societal implications of changes to the gender composition of the professions. These studies insist on the potential or real changes that women may bring to the professional ethos and to the occupation-specific “rules of the game” in previously male-dominated bastions. Interested in the undoing of conventional norms of masculinity and fathering as well as of femininity and mothering, this third perspective explores a potential shift to more egalitarian gender arrangements at the organizational, interpersonal, and societal levels.
Management education (ME) is a research field in which scholars employ a plurality of theoretical and methodological approaches to critically examine the people, practices, processes and institutions engaged in facilitating and improving learning and development of current and aspiring managers in a variety of contexts. Although research in the field has grown considerably in terms of both quantity and quality, ME scholars have yet to establish consensus regarding a strong theoretical foundation for their work. This foundation is important to both enable progress through cumulative scholarship and to provide directions for future research.
This future research should focus on how students learn, as well as effective approaches to facilitating and assessing student learning. Strengthening the theoretical basis and research methods used in this research will enable evidence-based practice and enhance the legitimacy of this important field.
Increasing levels of cultural diversity requires a system of higher education structured to facilitate intercultural learning and develop individuals who are prepared to work in a culturally diverse environment, and can make decisions and manage people cognizant of cultural differences. Three main approaches to facilitate intercultural learning in the classroom have emerged: transfer of cultural knowledge, cultural experiences, and reflection on experience. Each of these approaches has a role to play at different stages of intercultural development. Three stages of intercultural development are proposed: (1) Monocultural stage, referring to a stage in which individuals are unaware of cultural differences; (2) Cross-cultural stage, in which individuals recognize and understand cultural differences but lack behavioral skills to deal with them; and (3) Intercultural stage, in which individuals can draw on a repertoire of behaviors to influence and shape intercultural interactions in ways that facilitate understanding and create opportunities for cooperation. Reflection on experience is proposed to be particularly useful to support the development of intercultural competence. Reflection is a thinking process focusing on examining a thought, event, or situation to make it more comprehensible and to learn from it. A four-step reflection process is proposed: (1) Describe experience; (2) Reflect on experience; (3) Learn from experience; and (4) Apply learning. Suggestions on using reflection in the classroom are proposed.
Nydia MacGregor and Tammy L. Madsen
Regulatory shocks, either by imposing regulations or easing them (deregulation), yield abrupt and fundamental changes to the institutional rules governing competition and, in turn, the opportunity sets available to firms. Formally, a regulatory shock occurs when jurisdictions replace one regulatory system for another. General forms of regulation include economic and social regulation but recent work offers a more fine-grained classification based on the content of regulations: regulation for competition, regulation of cap and trade, regulation by information, and soft law or experimental governance. These categories shed light on the types of rules and policies that change at the moment of a regulatory shock. As a result, they advance our understanding of the nature, scope, magnitude, and consequences of transformative shifts in rules systems governing industries. In addition to differences in the content of reforms, the assorted forms of regulatory change vary in the extent to which they disrupt an industry’s state of equilibrium or semi-equilibrium. These differences contribute to diverse temporal patterns or dynamics, an area ripe for further study. For example, a regulatory shock to an industry may be followed by rapid adjustment and, in turn, a new equilibrium state. Alternatively, the effects of a regulatory shock may be more enduring, contributing to ongoing dynamics and prolonging an industry’s convergence to new equilibrium state. As such, regulatory shocks can both stimulate ongoing heterogeneity or promote coherence within and among industries, sectors, organizational fields, and nation states. It follows that examining the content, scope, and magnitude of regulatory shocks is key to understanding their impact.
Since conforming to industry regulation (deregulation) increases economic returns, firms attempt to align their policies and behaviors with the institutional rules governing an industry. Thus, regulatory shocks stimulate the evaluation of strategic choices and, in turn, impact the competitive positions of firms and the composition of industries. Following a shock, at least two generic cohorts of firms emerge: incumbents, which are firms that operated in the industry before the change, and entrants, which start up after the change. To sustain a position, entrants must build capabilities from scratch whereas incumbents must replace or modify the practices they developed in the prior regulatory era. Not surprisingly, the ensuing competitive dynamics strongly influence the distribution of profits observed in an industry and the duration of firms’ profit advantages.
Our review highlights some of the prominent areas of research inquiry regarding regulatory shocks but many areas remain underexplored. Future work may benefit by considering regulatory shocks as embedded in a self-reinforcing system rather than simply an exogenous inflection in an industry’s evolutionary trajectory. Opportunities also exist for studying how the interplay of industry actors with actors external to an industry (political, social) affects the temporal and competitive consequences of regulatory shocks.
The Resource-Based View of the firm (RBV) is a set of related theories sharing the assumptions of resource heterogeneity and resource immobility across firms. In this view, a firm is a bundle of resources, capabilities, or routines which create value and cannot be easily imitated or appropriated by competitors due to isolating mechanisms. Grounded in the economic traditions of the “Chicago School” of economic efficiency, the “Austrian School” of economics, and organizational economics, the RBV comprises theories that explain the existence of (sustained) competitive advantage and of economic rents. Empirical research from this perspective addresses both firm performance and firm behavior at the level of business strategy (e.g., within-industry competition) and corporate strategy (e.g., acquisitions). Initially developed through a series of papers by several authors in the 1980s–1990s, major extensions and refinements of the RBV include the knowledge-based view of the firm (KBV), dynamic capabilities, and the relational view, which recognizes capabilities can be developed and shared through alliances between firms.
Donald D. Bergh
Growth strategies have long been a priority for executive leadership. However, growth can also create problems. Leaders may need to use restructuring and divestiture actions to regain control, improve transparency, and re-establish efficiency. Given that leaders benefit from having insights into the antecedents, processes, outcomes, and decisions associated with unwinding growth most effectively, it is essential to consider the body of knowledge that exists in strategic management on restructuring and divestiture. This review seeks to describe what is currently known and not known about restructuring and divestiture and will give future researchers some suggested directions for further developing knowledge about these expensive and risky actions. The assessment is organized round five key questions that have shaped the field’s literature base: Why do firms divest? How do firms divest? Do divestitures create value? What happens to the divested units? And what are some promising directions for future knowledge development? Afterwards, three challenges for knowledge development are presented: What is value creation and for whom does it matter? What to do about incomplete information? And, is there a need for integrating different levels of strategy? Overall, it is important to identify, develop, and analyze the conceptual models of restructuring and divestiture with the purpose of guiding future research to provide knowledge that decision-makers will find useful as they engage in restructuring and divestitures.
Michael K. Bednar
Corporate governance scholars have long been interested in understanding the mechanisms through which firms and their leaders are held accountable for their actions. Recently, there has been increased interest in viewing the media as a type of corporate governance mechanism. Because the media makes evaluations of firms and leaders, and can broadcast information to a wide audience, it has the potential to influence the reputation of firms and firm leaders in both positive and negative ways and thereby play a role in corporate governance.
The media can play a governance role and even influence firm outcomes by simply reporting about firm actions, giving stakeholders a larger voice with which to exert influence, and through independent investigation. However, despite the potential for the media to play a significant governance role, several barriers limit its effectiveness in this capacity. For example, media outlets have their own set of interests that they must strive to fulfill, and journalists often succumb to several cognitive biases that could limit their ability to successfully hold leaders accountable.
While significant progress has been made in understanding the governance role of the media, future research is needed to better understand the specific conditions in which the media is effective in this role. Understanding how social media is changing the nature of journalism is just one example of the many exciting avenues for future research in this area.
Cristina Chaminade and Bengt-Åke Lundvall
Scientific advance and innovation are major sources of economic growth and are crucial for making development socially and environmentally sustainable. A critical question is: Will private enterprises invest sufficiently in research technological development and innovation and, if not, to what degree and how should governments engage in the support of science, technology, and innovation? While neoclassical economists point to market failure as the main rationale for innovation policy, evolutionary economists point to the role of government in building stronger innovation systems and creating wider opportunities for innovation. Research shows that the transmission mechanisms between scientific advance and innovation are complex and indirect. There are other equally important sources of innovation including experience-based learning. Innovation is increasingly seen as a systemic process, where the feedback from users needs to be taken into account when designing public policy. Science and innovation policy may aim at accelerating knowledge production along well-established trajectories, or it may aim at giving new direction to the production and use of knowledge. It may be focused exclusively on economic growth, or it may give attention to impact on social inclusion and the natural environment. An emerging topic is to what extent national perspectives continue to be relevant in a globalizing learning economy facing multiple global complex challenges, including the issue of climate change. Scholars point to a movement toward transformative innovation policy and global knowledge sharing as a response to current challenges.
Rose L. Siuta and Mindy E. Bergman
Business and management conceptualizations of sexual harassment have been informed by both legal and psychological definitions. From the psychological perspective, sexual harassment behaviors include harassment based on one’s gender, enacting unwanted sexual attention, and sexual coercion. The most recent psychological theories of sexual harassment acknowledge that it is a gendered experience motivated by the societal stratification of gender and not by sexual gratification.
Harassing behaviors negatively impact individual well-being. Well-documented workplace effects of sexual harassment include reduced job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and productivity, and increased job stress, turnover, withdrawal, and conflict. Sexual harassment negatively affects target’s psychological and physical well-being, including increases in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety symptoms, emotional exhaustion, headaches, sleep problems, gastric distress, and upper respiratory problems. All of these individual-level effects can result in financial decrements for the target and the organization.
Both individual and organizational factors predict sexual harassment. Women are more likely to experience sexual harassment, as well as minoritized persons, with women who embody more than one minority identity being the most likely to experience sexual harassment. This finding supports the interpretation of sexual harassment as motivated by reinforcing societal power hierarchies. Other individual factors such as sexual orientation, age, education level, and marital status are also related to experiencing sexual harassment. At the organizational level, organizational climate, job-gender context, and relative power between the harasser and the target predict sexual harassment. Organizational climates that are more tolerant of sexual harassment produce more sexual harassment. In addition, as masculinity of a work context increases, so does sexual harassment for women. Lastly, those with lower organizational power are more likely to experience sexual harassment, particularly by people with higher levels of power; however, contrapower harassment (harassment of individuals with higher organizational power by those with lower organizational power) can also occur.
Reporting harassment to organizational authorities has been theorized to lead to positive outcomes, but reporting rates are low. This may reflect findings that procedures for reporting are often unclear and that reporting often leads to worse outcomes for targets of harassment than their non-reporting peers.
The two most common approaches to measuring sexual harassment are direct query (explicitly ask about sexual harassment) or behavior experiences (ask respondents about how many sexually harassing behaviors they have experienced). A few considerations for the methodology used in these studies include inconsistency in conceptual or operational definitions of sexual harassment, the framing of a study, the retrospective nature of research asking about past experiences, and the sampling methodology used. A number of gaps remain in the documentation and understanding of sexual harassment phenomena, which intersect with some research practices and challenges. These include (a) the need to take into account factors other than incidence rates, such as perceived severity of experiences; (b) further examination of how multiple minority statuses and intersectional oppression affect harassment; (c) the importance of conducting research on harassment perpetrators; and (d) the examination of culturally informed topics related to sexual harassment, particularly outside Western countries.
Entrepreneurial activity is facilitated by the ties that connect founders and their venture to a broader network of actors. This insight on the value of social capital has been enriched by a large body of research that builds on core concepts of network content, governance, and structure. Network content refers to the resources, information and social support that is exchanged or flows between actors. Governance encompasses the mechanisms that organize and regulate the exchange. Network structure refers to broader patterns created from the relationships between actors. With these building blocks, key findings that have emerged over 30 years of research can be organized into two domains: how networks influence entrepreneurial outcomes and how networks develop over the entrepreneurial process. Core findings regarding the performance consequences of social capital underscore its benefits while identifying limitations due to decreasing returns to growing and maintaining a large network or to contingencies tied to the stage of the venture’s growth. Our understanding of the sources of network evolution and the resulting patterns have also developed significantly. As a motor of network change, scholars have emphasized the goal-oriented behavior of the entrepreneur, but recognize social relationships also engender mutual concern, obligation, and emotional attachment. From a focus on founder and founding team ties to start-up, small firm networks, the literature now spans multiple levels and accounts for contextual variation between industries and institutional environments. Advances within each of these domains of inquiry have led to rich insights and greater conceptual complexity. Future research opportunities will arise that leverage cross-fertilization of the process and performance research streams.
Sarah A. Soule
Do the activities of social movements (e.g., public protest, shareholder activism, boycotts, and sabotage) impact businesses, and if so, how do they impact businesses? When confronted by activist demands, how do firms respond, and does this response vary depending on who the activists are and what their relationship is to the firm? Answering these questions is critical for businesses and activists alike, as we move into an era of heightened activism directed at firms. A growing area of research that is situated at the intersection of economic and political sociology, social movement studies, history, and organizational theory, tackles these questions, in an increasingly methodologically sophisticated and nuanced manner. As a result, a number of important articles and books have been published, and several high-profile, interdisciplinary conferences have been held. This body of research shows that social movements have both direct and indirect effects on businesses, and that these effects are amplified by media attention to activism. For example, we know that activism impacts the financial performance of firms, as well as their reputation. And, we know that the activities of social movements have consequences on firm policies and practices. In turn, businesses have developed a varied repertoire of ways to respond to activist demands. While some businesses ignore activists, others decide to retaliate against activists. Increasingly, businesses concede to the demands of activists in material ways by changing policies and practices that are criticized, while others devise symbolic ways to respond to activist demands, thereby preserving their reputation without necessarily changing their activities.
Jennifer E. Dannals and Dale T. Miller
Social norms are a powerful force in organizations. While different literatures across fields have developed differing definitions and categories, social norms are commonly defined as and divided into descriptive norms, i.e., the most commonly enacted behavior, and prescriptive norms, i.e., the behavior most commonly viewed as acceptable or appropriate. Different literatures have also led to differing focuses of investigation for social norms research. Economic theorists have tended to examine social norm emergence by studying how social norms evolve to reduce negative or create positive externalities in situations. Organizational theorists and sociologists have instead focused on the social pressures which maintain social norms in groups over time, and eventually can lead group members to internalize the social norm. In contrast, social psychologists have tended to focus on how to use social norms in interventions aimed at reducing negative behaviors. Integrating these divergent streams of research proves important for future research.
Alexander Bolinger and Mark Bolinger
There is currently great enthusiasm for entrepreneurship education and the economic benefits that entrepreneurial activity can generate for individuals, organizations, and communities. Beyond economic outcomes, however, there is a variety of social and emotional costs and benefits of engaging in entrepreneurship that may not be evident to students nor emphasized in entrepreneurship courses. The socioemotional costs of entrepreneurship are consequential: on the one hand, entrepreneurs who pour their time and energy into new ventures can incur costs (e.g., ruptured personal and professional relationships, decreased life satisfaction and well-being, or strong negative reactions such as grief) that can often be as or more personally disruptive and enduring than economic costs. On the other hand, the social and emotional benefits of an entrepreneurial lifestyle are often cited as intrinsically satisfying and as primary motivations for initiating and sustaining entrepreneurial activity.
The socioemotional aspects of entrepreneurship are often poorly understood by students, but highlighting these hidden dimensions of entrepreneurial activity can inform their understanding and actions as prospective entrepreneurs. For instance, entrepreneurial passion, the experience of positive emotions as a function of engaging in activities that fulfill one’s entrepreneurial identity, and social capital, whereby entrepreneurs build meaningful relationships with co-owners, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders, are two specific socioemotional benefits of entrepreneurship. There are also several potential socioemotional costs of entrepreneurial activity. For instance, entrepreneurship can involve negative emotional responses such as grief and lost identity from failure. Even when an entrepreneur does not fail, the stress of entrepreneurial activity can lead to sleep deprivation and disruptions to both personal and professional connections. Then, entrepreneurs can identify so closely and feel so invested that they experience counterproductive forms of obsessive passion that consume their identities and impair their well-being.
Hugo Pinto and Manuel Fernández-Esquinas
This is an advance summary of a forthcoming article in the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Business and Management. Please check back later for the full article.
In order to obtain competitive advantages, firms have to make use of knowledge as the main element of their capacities for innovation and management. Innovation is a complex and collective process, resulting from different contexts, socioeconomic aspects, and specificities of firms that create nuanced management and policy implications. Sources of knowledge are varied, as each firm interacts with multiple types of actors to pursue its mission: partners and strategic allies, suppliers, customers, competitors, specialized organizations such as knowledge intensive business services, universities, technology centers, public research organizations, innovation intermediaries, and public administration bodies.
Different kinds of knowledge are relevant for the firms, both tacit and codified knowledge. Knowledge needs to be translated into capacity to act. Knowledge generation and absorption can be understood as two sides of the same coin. It is necessary to take into account factors that shape both facets and the relationship between the production, transfer, and valorization of knowledge. Influential factors concerning knowledge characteristics are related to tacitness and to the existing knowledge base. Contextual factors, such as the economic sector, technological intensity, the local buzz, and the insertion in global value chains are essential as environmental enablers for generating and absorbing knowledge. Finally, the internal characteristics of the firm are of crucial relevance, namely the existing innovation culture, leadership, and also the size or internal R&D capacities. These factors reinforce the dynamic capacities of the firm and the decision to engage in open innovation strategies or to give more importance to strategies that protect and codify knowledge, such as industrial property rights.
Kathryn Rudie Harrigan
Concerns regarding strategic flexibility arose from companies’ need to survive excess capacity and flagging sales in the face of previously unforeseen competitive conditions. Strategic flexibility became an organizational mandate for coping with changing competitive conditions and managers learned to plan for inevitable restructurings. They learned to reposition assets and capabilities to suit their firms’ new strategic aspirations by overcoming barriers to change. Core rigidities flared up in the form of legacy costs, regulatory constraints, political animosity, and social resistance to adjusting firms’ strategic postures; managers learned that their firms’ past strategic choices could later become barriers to adapting corporate strategy.
Managerial insights concerning how to modify firms’ resources changed the way in which they were subsequently regarded. Enterprises saw assets lose their relative productivity and value as mastery of specific knowledge become less germane to success. Managers recognized that their firms’ capabilities were mismatched to market or value-chain relationships. They struggled to adapt by overcoming barriers to change.
Flexibility problems were inevitable. Even if competitive conditions were not impacted by exogenous change forces, sustaining advantage in a steady-state competitive arena became difficult; sustaining advantage in dynamic arenas became nearly impossible. Confronted with the difficulties of changing strategic postures, market orientations, and overall cost competitiveness, managers embraced the need to combat organizational rigidity in all aspects of their firms’ operations. Strategic flexibility affected enterprise assets, capabilities, and potential relationships with other parties within firms’ value-creating ecosystems; the need for strategic flexibility influenced investment choices made to escape organizational rigidity, capability traps and other forms of previously unrecognized resource inflexibility.
Where entry barriers once protected a firm’s strategic posture, flexibility issues arose when the need for endogenous changes occurred. The temporary protection afforded by imitation barriers slowed an organization’s responsiveness to changing its strategy imperatives—making the firm rigid when adaptiveness was needed instead. A firm’s own inertia to change sometimes created mobility barriers that had to be overcome when hypercompetitive conditions arose in their traditional market arenas and forced firms to change how they competed.
Where exogenous changes drove competitive conditions to become more volatile, attainment of strategic flexibility mandated the need to downsize the scope of a firm’s activities, shut down facilities, prune product lines, reduce headcount, and eliminate redundancies—as typically occurred during an organizational turnaround—while simultaneously increasing the scope of external activities performed by an enterprise’s value-adding network of suppliers, distributors, value-added resellers, complementors, and alliance partners, among others. Such structural value-chain changes typically exacerbated pressures on the firm’s internal organization to search more broadly for value-adding innovations to renew products and processes to keep up with the accelerated pace of industry change. Exploratory processes of self-renewal forced confrontations with mobility or exit barriers that were long tolerated by firms in order to avoid coping with the painful process of their ultimate elimination. The sometimes surprising efforts by firms to avoid inflexibility included changes in the nature of firms’ asset investments, value-chain relationships, and human-resource practices. Strategic flexibility concerns often trumped the traditional strengths accorded to resource-based strategies.
Briance Mascarenhas and Megan Mascarenhas
A strategic group is defined as a set of firms within an industry pursuing a similar strategy. The strategic group concept emerged with much promise over 40 years ago. Research on strategic groups over time in a broad variety of settings has sought to clarify their theoretical and empirical properties. These research findings are gradually being translated into practical managerial guidance, so that the strategic group concept can be understood, operationalized, and used productively by managers.
Two main approaches exist for identifying strategic groups—a ground-up approach, using disaggregated data, and a top-down, using cognition. Once identified, managerial insights can be derived from clarifying a strategic group’s profile. Firm membership in a group helps to uncover immediate and more distant types of competitors. Group profitability differences reveal the more rewarding and less attractive areas within an industry, as well as identify the lower-return groups from where firm exits are likely to occur. Group dynamics reflect competitive and cooperative behavior within and between groups. Several promising areas for future research on strategic groups to improve understanding and practice of strategy.