Uncertainty in Strategy Research

Photo: Thomas Leuthard

With Anne Huff and Robert Galavan I have written a paper outlining research on environmental uncertainty in strategy research. “Strategic decision-making invariably involves making inferences about the future, a future that cannot be fully known. While all decisions carry risk, uncertainty arises from the inability to assign probability estimates to future events and is thus a key concept within strategy. Yet, strategy scholars sometimes use the concept of uncertainty in ways that obscure, rather than clarify, what they mean. Indeed, constructs such as risk, uncertainty, volatility, complexity, ambiguity, and dynamism are often used interchangeably and without clarification of concept. In this article, we aim to provide the reader with a clarifying overview of the classical work on uncertainty in strategy research and give examples of the more recent evolution of the concept. A particular emphasis is on the relationship between uncertainty and complementary constructs. We illustrate some of the strategy perspectives that surround both objective and subjective uncertainty and end our overview by commenting on new sources of uncertainty.”

Are you sure your industry is hypercompetitive?

Together with my former PhD student Annesofie Lindskov, I wrote a short paper for the Journal of Business Models looking at the business model innovation consequences of managerial misperceptions of the level of competitive dynamics. In other words, what happens to business model innovation efforts if managers over- or under-estimate competition? Read it here: https://journals.aau.dk/index.php/JOBM/article/view/6825

Call for Chapters – Cognitive Aids in Strategy

Deadline June 1st 2022 We are looking to put together the 6th volume of the New Horizons in Managerial and Organizational Cognition series (Emerald), to comprise an interdisciplinary collection of contributions that reflect on the theoretical grounding of the use of physical, conceptual, and digital cognitive aids for managerial cognition and strategic decision-making. Strategy work is not only based on language but also on cognitive aids that enable sensemaking and sense-giving between individuals and teams, within and between organizations, and for communication to external audiences. Cognitive aids thus focus attention, trigger curiosity, enable individuals to understand, and express themselves, in complementary or other ways than verbal. We want to encourage papers exploring new horizons of socio-cognitive and socio-psychological research as it relates to cognitive aids, artefacts, and tools.

Framing Industry Change

Back in the 1990s I studied economics at the University of Lausanne (HEC Lausanne), and one of my fellow students was José Anson. We both later received our doctorates at HEC, and he went on to be the chief economist of the United Nations Universal Postal Union. I went on to pursue an academic career. Now, many years later, we have published a joint paper in which we study how industry change was framed in the postal sector in the aftermath of the financial crisis. What a pleasure to collaborate with old friends.

Newly published case on sustainability as strategy – Comwell Hotels

How can you build a competitive strategy around sustainability as a differentiator? In this recently published case I study this based on the Comwell Hotel Group case, together with Rasmus Rasmussen, award-winning chef and one of the driving forces behind the sustainability strategy of the hotel group. Download it here, or look at the published version here: https://www.elgaronline.com/view/edcoll/9781789908343/9781789908343.00045.xml

Call for Essays: Measuring Sustainability and CSR

The measurement and reporting of sustainability and CSR-related indicators is only growing in importance. Yet, as a few scholars have pointed out recently there are important issues with such measurements. We are commencing work on a book on this important topic. The book will be published in 2022 by Springer, as part of the Ethical Economy book series. The book’s tentative title is “Measuring Sustainability and CSR: From reporting to decision-making”, and would situate the book as an interdisciplinary collection of informed essays about the topic. Rather than full-blown academic papers, we are open to more conceptual, reflective, or even normative short essays that will help the reader understand the issues and challenges at hand, and maybe even point towards possible solutions. Here is the call for proposals:

Balancing Incremental and Radical Business Model Innovation

My former student Meri Sahramaa (today a project manager at Capgemini) conducted a study two years ago that I supervised on innovation labs in the banking sector. Her work won her our master thesis of the year award, and with a little help from my old friend Marcel Bogers we turned it into an academic article that has just been published in Journal of Business Research – a journal I always wanted to publish in. We report that labs are constrained in their exploration of new business models by the need to satisfy top and core business managers. They do this among others by balancing incremental and radical innovation. Small incremental innovation provides the freedom for larger more radical innovation. Read about it here.

Business Models and Cognition

We recently published the anthology “Business Models and Cognition” (Emerald), a collection of papers by great colleagues examining how theories of cognition can inform business model research. Our paper “Exploring the Connections Between Business Models and Cognition: A Commentary”, co-authored with Marcel Bogers and Robert Galavan, provides an overview of the exciting developments in this area.

Long Term Competitive Dynamics in Denmark

Again and again I hear managers saying that the world has become such a dynamic place that it is useless to spend time on strategic planning, since plans can be scrapped again before they can even be implemented. Some scholars have called this state of affairs “hypercompetition” – a situation in which competition becomes increasingly dynamic and firms cannot build long term competitive advantages.

With my PhD student Annesofie Lindskov and colleague Johannes K. Dreyer we tested this hypothesis for firms listed on the Danish stock exchange and over a period of almost 40 years. Our conclusion: there is little evidence of any hypercompetition. My interpretation: as a manager you can still do strategy work. You can still plan. You can still build competitive advantages. The full article can be downloaded here.