This a survey course- an introduction to important theories of strategy – it provides an overview of some (not all) of the important research streams in strategy – it is complemented by Strategy II and by courses in organization theory, business research and the special topics courses.
Strategy research can be seen as a matrix of theories and phenomena. The structure-conduct-performance paradigm, game theory, resource based theory, theories of organizational knowledge and learning, transaction cost economics and evolutionary economics are all widely known and used theoretical lenses in strategy content research. The phenomena these theories are applied to include industry concentration, diversification, vertical integration, organization design, knowledge transfer and management, acquisitions and alliances etc. We will have most sessions dedicated to theories, but a few sessions will talk about specific phenomena (such as M&A).
As we typically spend about one session per theoretical framework, this will hardly make you a master of that theory. That’s what a survey course is about- think of it as a trailer that gives you some sense of the main attraction. Many of the theories we cover in one session could be the topic of a whole doctoral seminar by themselves! The reading list for each session will give you additional “below the line” references to readings that will point the way in terms of deepening your expertise in a particular theory. You might also consider additional follow-up work with the faculty in the area as a means to drill deeper into a particular theory. It is your own responsibility to do follow up work to deepen you knowledge of a theory and its associated literature.
I have devoted most of this course to the development (foundation) readings for most of the theories rather recent developments to provide an idea of the fundamental questions and approaches. I expect you to dive deep and understand recent developments for writing your term paper (more on this below).
The preliminary sessions, especially, presume some knowledge of microeconomics. If you do not have this background, please contact me or the PhD coordinator for additional readings. Students without a business background may benefit immensely from sitting in on the core strategy course in the MM or MBA programs to develop a feel for the area.
1. There are typically 5-6 “above the line” readings for each class. I will expect you to have thoroughly read and digested each of these before class. This will take between 5-10 hours of preparation per week. Budget for it. In addition each student will be assigned an “above the line” reading to summarize. Though each student will hand in a written summary for his/her assigned article before class, she/ he is also responsible for doing the remaining readings in the session as well. These summaries will prove a valuable study aid. Please organize a session lead among yourselves – divide up the readings and send me the consolidated summaries the day before class (from class 2). After class, please remember to read the ** marked articles below the line.
2. There is a list of “classics in strategy” books at the end of this course outline. I will expect each student to select one and present a15 minute lecture discussing the book. Your book selection should be conveyed to me by week 5, and presentations will start week 7 onwards.
3. Paper requirement: We cover 5-6 important theoretical frameworks in this course. For your paper for this course, please pick one theoretical framework and write a 20-25 page academic paper that a) summarizes the theory with some attention to its development and antecedents b) reviews key empirical tests and c) proposes possible extensions/integrations with other theories/critical tests/ applications to knew phenomena etc.
4. The quality of this class will ultimately depend on the inputs you provide. Your role in class discussions- assessed in terms of quality of comments, maintenance of standards of academic argument, involvement and knowledge of the issues are important for a successful course and your own development as an academic.
Industry dynamics – Abernathy, utterback, life cycle model
Change – punctuated equilibrium vs. continuous change
Coordination in organizations – Thompson, Tushman and Nadler, (??)
Modularity – power of modularity, mirroring hypothesis
Innovation I – value creation
Innovation II - Value Appropriation
Global strategy (?)