(with Teppo Felin). “Social Reality, the Boundary of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy, and Economics,” Organization Science 20: 654-668
Organizational scholars have recently argued that economic theories and assumptions have adversely shaped management practice and human behavior, not only leading to the incorporation of trust-eroding market mechanisms into organizations, but also unnecessarily creating self-interested behavior. A number of highly influential papers have argued that the self-fulfilling nature of (even false) theories provides the underlying mechanism through which economics has adversely shaped not just social science but also management practice and individual behavior. We question these arguments and argue that there are important boundary conditions to theories falsely fulfilling themselves, boundary conditions that have hitherto been unexplored in organizational research, and boundary conditions that question the underlying premises used by organizational scholars and social scientists to attack economics. We specifically build on highly relevant findings from social psychology, philosophy, and organizational economics to show how (1) objective reality and (2) human nature provide two important boundary conditions for theories (falsely or otherwise) fulfilling themselves. We also defend organizational economics, specifically the use of high-powered incentives in organizations, and argue that self-interest (rightly understood) facilitates in creating beneficial individual and collective and societal outcomes.
(with Teppo Felin). “The Performativity of Theory, Arbitrary Conventions and Possible Worlds: A Reality Check.",” Organization Science 20: 676-678.
We argue that Ferraro, Pfeffer, and Sutton build on a scientifically problematic conception of the relationship between theory and social reality. Specifically, the performativity perspective that they build on makes tenuous assumptions about the role that theories, whether true or not, play in strongly constructing social reality, but the perspective fundamentally ignores central matters related to human nature and the boundaries of possibility. We argue for a more realistic approach to theory building and social science, one that recognizes the role that true theories play in helping us understand and explain reality, but also in turn shaping that reality given this better theoretical understanding.
(with Dana Minbaeva, Mia Reinholt, and Torben Pedersen). “Stimulating Knowledge Sharing Among Employees: The Contribution of Job Design”, Human Resource Management 48: 871-893.
(with Dana Minbaeva and Scott Snell). “Bringing the Knowledge Perspective into HRM,” Human Resource Management.48: 477-483.
In this introduction to this Special Issue, we briefly describe the knowledge perspective that has emerged in management research over the last two decades, discuss its current and potential future relations to Human Resources Management (HRM) research, and summarize the papers in this issue.
(with Rajshree Agarwal, Jay B. Barney and Peter G. Klein). “Heterogeneous Resources and the Current Crisis: Implications of Strategic Management Theory,” Strategic Organization 7: 467-484.
This essay begins by focusing on a fundamental difference in the premises underlying dominant macroeconomic models and strategic management theory: heterogeneity of resources. This underlying assumption regarding resources leads to different fundamental understandings of how economic activity is organized and the roles of individuals, firms and government in economic systems. We then discuss the implications of these different assumptions and understandings for economic policies derived from traditional macroeconomic theory and from strategic management theory.
(with Mark Lorenzen). “Towards an Understanding of Cognitive Coordination,” Organization Studies 30: 1201-1226.
The cognitive dimension of institutions has been comparatively neglected in social science research. In particular, economists have concentrated on how institutions provide incentives. However, institutions also influence behaviours by influencing beliefs and expectations that help agents to overcome coordination problems. We explore various aspects of how institutions may align agents’ beliefs, concentrating on the role of analogies in interactive decision making, and how analogies grow from experience. We illustrate our reasoning by an empirical example.
(with Lasse Lien). “The Determinants of Industry Concentration: Two New Empirical Regularities.” Managerial and Decision Economics 30: 503-511.
This paper reports two new empirical regularities concerning industry concentration. First, concentration levels closely correlate in related industries. Second, the correlation is moderated by the degree of relatedness between the industries. These regularities are derived from the Trinet database, using a survivor-based measure of relatedness. We argue that these previously overlooked relations may be explained in terms of (1) spillover effects between industries and (2) life cycle factors.
“Alternative Research Strategies in the Knowledge Movement”, European Management Review 6: 16-28.
The emergence over the last two decades or so of ‘knowledge’ as an important part of the explanatory structure of management research is an intellectual breakthrough that is comparable in terms of its transforming impact to the behavioral revolution of the 1960s. A veritable ‘knowledge movement’ has emerged that spans several fields in management. I take stock on alternative research strategies with that movement, distinguishing between ‘capabilities first,’ ‘networks first’ and ‘individuals first’ strategies. Reasons are given why more research attention needs to be allocated to the latter strategy if the knowledge movement is to continue making progress. However, the aim should ultimately be to reach towards multi-level research that combines aggregate constructs with top-down processes and bottom-up processes.
(with Nils Stieglitz) “Entrepreneurship and Transaction Costs,” Advances in Strategic Management 26: 67-96.
(with Teppo Felin) “Organizational Routines: Historical Drift, a Course-Correction, and Prospects for Future Work,” Scandinavian Journal of Management, 25: 157-167.
Organizational routines and capabilities have become key constructs in fields such as organization studies, strategic management, international business, and technology management, as well as certain parts of economics. We discuss the historical origins of the notion of routines and highlight some of the theoretical drift associated with the notion of routines over time. In particular, we note how recent routines-based work has unnecessarily moved the focus (1) from the individual to the collective level, (2) from intentional behavior to unintentional behavior, and (3) from the observable to the non-observable dimension. In parallel we also explicate the underlying theoretical problems of the concept of organizational routines (and associated constructs, such as capabilities); problems such as the lack of conceptual clarity on the origins of routines, and the more general need for microfoundations. We argue that the underlying, individual-level micro-components and interactional dynamics deserve more attention in extant work—calling in effect for a course-correction in work on organizational routines and capabilities. We highlight how an emphasis on (1) the origins of routines, (2) intentionality and exceptions, and (3) aggregation and emergence, provide opportunities to course-correct future research on organizational routines and capabilities.
(with Norman Sheehan). “Exploring the Roots of Porter’s Activity-based View.” Journal of Management and Strategy 2: 240-260.
Porter's activity-based view of the firm is a comprehensive strategic framework which analyzes firm-level competitive advantage. Although Porter's activity-based view is widely cited by academics, taught to students, and applied by practitioners, little is known about its intellectual roots. Given that a framework's intellectual antecedents not only determine its current content, but also its future development, this paper aims to examine the intellectual roots of Porter's activity-based view and the value chain.