Call for Proposals
Strategies in a World of Networks
The environment in which firms and other organizations operate has experienced major changes over the last decades. Society has increasingly come to expect companies to address phenomena such as climate change and inequality; the economy is becoming more and more interdependent; the emergence of new technologies creates new sectors and reshapes conventional industry boundaries and has a significant impact on how intraorganizational units relate to one another and on the way they compete; new types of organizations play a key role in serving collective and individual needs; and consumers enjoy mounting power, as evidenced by the rise of social networks. The scale and scope of these changes challenge the traditional notions of strategic management research and practice as we knew them and require that organizations develop new factors for their success and survival.
As the pace of change of today's business climate increases, traditional knowledge is not enough to help managers make informed decisions. For instance, the conventional industry analysis provides an incomplete view for companies competing in multisided markets where the notion of the business ecosystem is far more relevant. The old vertical value chain approach falls short in explaining how leading companies are transforming their rigid value chains into dynamic business networks of customers, partners, suppliers, and other stakeholders to stay ahead by responding promptly to speedy changes in domestic and international markets. Entering emerging markets challenges leaders to gain deeper understandings of how local networks operate and to penetrate them. Old concepts in innovation management do not explain why many companies have shifted from innovating within the organization—where ideas and resources are tightly controlled—to crowd and open innovation models—where participants work together on a collaborative basis. Valuable human capital is now found outside organizational boundaries, not only within organizations. Labor relations are also changing, from long-term bonds to flexible links where skilled networkers are more valued than seasoned employees.
Together, these shifts are an invitation to engage in a broader understanding about how organizations are part of larger ecosystems where boundaries are constantly reshaping. We, as a community of scholars, need to rethink how organizations can acknowledge and leverage their positions in their ecosystems and navigate through complex networks at multiple levels to foster their business relationships as their competitive advantage. We need to understand how emerging, new strategies can drive profitable growth through combinations of superior customer value, efficient supply chain, proper governance mechanisms and structures, or faster product innovation while being a responsible corporate citizen on the global stage.
Our theme for the SMS Annual Conference for 2014, ‘Strategies in a World of Networks,’ integrates these challenges, and the tracks outlined below put the emphasis on specific questions and issues that will be addressed.
CONFERENCE THEME TRACKS
TRACK A: Business Models in a World of Networks: Theory and Practice
Track Chair: Raffi Amit, University of Pennsylvania
Business models emphasize a system-level, holistic approach toward explaining how firms do business. As such, business models seek to explain the ways in which value is created, captured, and sustained. Although scholars have made progress in coming to grips with the business model as a concept, what is less well understood are the links between relevant business model parameters and competitive advantage. Moreover, business models do not perform in a vacuum, but interact with each other in complex ways. This track strives toward a common understanding of the phenomenon in the context of networked ecosystems. For example, how does business models interaction affect the structure and dynamics of value creation and capturing? How can business models leverage on the capabilities of the networks in which they are embedded? How do business models evolve over time? How does business model innovation relate to product and process innovation and to the networked structures of a firm? How can a new business model optimize its networks of physical and intangible assets to create barriers to imitation? These are some of the questions this track explores.
TRACK B: Exploiting Networks to Promote Creativity and Innovation
Track Chair: Christopher Tucci, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne
The rise of large-scale Internet connectivity, social networks, and the resulting business ecosystems is having, in some cases, profound impacts on firms’ innovation processes. For instance, firms are increasingly relying on potential users and partners to coordinate effort in the creative process of developing new products and services. Companies are also using social networks to disseminate and promote ideas and innovation. These trends, which are becoming key elements determining the success or failure of firms, have implications for management scholars who investigate these phenomena at different levels of analysis. This track explores these phenomena and their potential contributions to practice and theory. Topics include individual-level analyses of motivations to crowdsource; whether distributed innovation could lead to creativity and innovation; and the role of individual networks in the innovation process. Just some of the firm-level topics include managing crowdsourcing and innovation; Web2.0 and innovation; migrating business ecosystems from the firm's point of view; firms' architectural strategies; intraorganizational implications of new forms of innovation; and reverse innovation from experiences in emerging markets.
TRACK C: Strategy in Networked Markets
Track Chair: Govert Vroom, IESE Business School
In the past, value chains were appropriately defined as focal firms’ relationships with suppliers and customers; today firms are increasingly operating in ecosystems with more complicated interrelationships. Concepts such as multisided markets, network effects, and critical mass play increasingly important roles in firms’ strategic environments. As a consequence, numerous markets display winner-take-all or winner-take-most characteristics. Also, traditional delineations between suppliers, rivals, and customers blur, and relationships in these ecosystems often take the form of coopetition—blending cooperative and competitive approaches. This track will collect a series of papers examining how these trends affect strategic interactions between firms. We are interested in better understanding what type of competitive and cooperative interdependencies develop, what the strategic opportunities and challenges are in networked markets, and how these changes affect cooperation between and within organizations. We encourage submission of papers related to these ideas, including, but not limited to, multisided markets, network effects, and winner-take-all outcomes.
TRACK D: Multi-Level Governance Relationships in a Networked Environment
Track Chair: Ruth Aguilera, Northeastern University
The changing global environment puts into question the external validity of existing theoretical paradigms and seeks to explain puzzles that emerge when we look beyond the traditional firm as it faces societal demands. Organizations venture into new strategic challenges as they cope with reinvented actors. There is a need to better understand the multilevel governance relationships of multinational and not-for-profit firms, the metamorphosis of family firms, the challenges in public-private partnerships, the symbolic Anglo-American governance of emerging market firms, the dual principal governance of state-owned firms, the transformation of institutional investors, the renewed shareholder movements activated by social media, and the role of labor and other stakeholders with increased expectations that companies go beyond financial outcomes. We look forward to identifying the current and future challenges regarding the multilevel governance relationships firms face in light of the logic of a ‘World of Networks.’ This track seeks papers that examine the internal and external broad multilevel governance processes embedded in a context of networks that is characterized by increasing power of emerging markets, the establishment of semi-globalization, existing and forthcoming global regulation, and growing sustainability and corporate citizenship demands.
INTEREST GROUP TRACKS
The SMS has formed different Interest Groups (IGs) that explore important subfields in strategic management. Through this Call for Proposals, each IG invites submissions for the main body of the conference in which authors address aspects of ‘Strategies in a World of Networks’ along with other topics relevant to the IGs’ focus. The conference program will include presentations and panels that IGs select in their topical areas, along with selections from the above conference tracks. Submissions to the IG tracks are open to all interested parties.
TRACK E: Competitive Strategy
Program Chair: Juan Alcacer, Harvard University
The Competitive Strategy IG focuses on questions concerning firms’ competitive dynamics within the factor and product markets. Within the broader theme of ‘Strategies in a World of Networks,’ we call for contributions aimed at exploring the competitive dynamics and implications of innovative business models and the shifting emphasis from focal firms to business ecosystems. For example, we welcome work addressing questions such as: What are the implications of novel business models and the implications for our models of competitive advantage? How does the increased focus on multisided markets constrain firms' efforts to pursue competitive advantage and/or generate new opportunities for competitive success? How do firms retain competitive advantage when their (and their competitors') business models change? As usual, we welcome all contributions linked with competitive strategy (competitive dynamics, sustainability of competitive advantage), and we specifically encourage submissions on the topic of competitive strategy with a link to the conference theme.
TRACK F: Corporate Strategy
Program Chair: Heli Wang, Singapore Management University
The Corporate Strategy IG explores questions concerning firm boundary decisions, the management of diversified firms, and tradeoffs in alternative vehicles of growth and decline. The theme of this year’s conference is particularly relevant for corporate strategy. In addition to proposals related to the general domain of this IG, we invite submissions that address the following questions: How does the evolution into a networked economy affect firm diversification and vertical integration decisions? While M&A has been popular means of firm growth, how may the evolution affect the adoption of such a strategy and its effectiveness? As firm boundaries become increasingly blurred and firms become less tightly integrated, does the role of corporate strategy change in its potential of bringing firms superior value? Are existing theories (e.g., TCE and RBT used to explain boundary decision) still equally valid in addressing corporate strategy issues? How do the changes in business practices—e.g., from control of ideas to open innovations—affect the management of diversified firms?
TRACK G: Global Strategy
Program Chair: Nandini Lahiri, American University
This year’s conference theme ‘Strategies in a World of Networks’ lies at the heart of the opportunities and challenges that multinationals constantly face. It speaks to the need for flexibility and the ability to adapt successfully across the various institutional environments in which MNEs operate. This need for new and emergent strategies is important, as organizations must respond quickly to rapidly changing rules of competition. The Global Strategy IG is core to this thinking, as evidenced by recent research on MNEs in creating and leveraging internal and external networks of actors to enhance efficiency and effectiveness. In line with this, we look forward to submissions that address questions such as: What are the antecedents and consequences of networked MNEs? Relative to their domestic counterparts, are MNEs better able to leverage resources in a world of networks? What are the opportunities, challenges, and tradeoffs that MNEs face in a world of networks? How do rapidly changing rules of business impact the global and/or local norms of competition? How do MNEs sustain competitive advantage in fast-paced and heterogeneous environments?
TRACK H: Strategy Process
Program Chair: Xavier Castaner, University of Lausanne
The Strategy Process IG focuses on questions concerning how strategies are formed, implemented, and changed. This year, we particularly welcome contributions that examine strategy processes related to how organizations cope with interdependence within and across organizational boundaries. Potential questions include: How does (inter)dependence (with) from stakeholders influence the processes of strategy formulation and implementation? How does it redefine the corporate agenda? How should it change the role of the CEO and TMT members as strategists? How can managers leverage internal and external networks to deal with uncertainty and internal and external interdependence? How do social networks and, more specifically, social media affect strategy-making and implementing processes in different kinds of organizations, such as for-profit corporations, not-for-profits, and public organizations? How often is it appropriate to innovate and change (routines and templates for) strategy-making processes, such as strategic planning and budgeting? What is the role of a strategy/planning unit in this environment? Which tools should managers use to engage in strategy-making processes in a more interdependent, open, and fast-changing environment?
TRACK I: Knowledge and Innovation
Program Chair: Stefano Brusoni, ETH Zurich
Knowledge and innovation lie at the core of the networked economy. Business firms and organizations operate in increasingly connected environments that enable them to access incredible amounts of data, information, and knowledge. Yet, seemingly unlimited access challenges their ability to monitor, evaluate, and develop such knowledge to transform it into innovative products and services. We welcome proposals related to the general domain of the Knowledge and Innovation IG, focused on organizational learning, innovation, and the interplay of intra- and interorganizational processes. In addition, we encourage submissions that tackle the fundamental challenges raised by the increasing interconnectedness of society. Relevant questions include, but are not limited to: When, how, and why are alternative strategies to access and integrate dispersed knowledge deployed (e.g. networks, communities, crowdsourcing, markets for technologies)? How can firms appropriate value from open innovation processes while at the same time retaining control of proprietary knowledge? How, and to what extent, can firms structure their internal and external networks to generate innovation? How do a firm’s internal and external networks complement each other to create innovation? How is the increasing availability of data and connections affecting individual managers’ decision-making processes and their outcomes?
TRACK J: Strategy Practice
Program Chair: Elena Antonacopoulou, University of Liverpool
This year’s conference theme provides an opportunity to rethink strategy practice. A networked world exposes the dynamism that underpins the way strategy practices are formed, performed, and transformed. It allows us to appreciate that what makes a working net (network) of connections possible are the strategic dynamics that shape the emerging practices and the connection they foster within and across organizations in a ‘World of Networks.’ A dynamic perspective on strategy practice fosters greater attention to the emergence of practices. At the same time, it provides scope to appreciate that such emergence provokes emergency in the way judgments (phronesis) are called for in performing strategy practice in an ever-uncertain and unpredictable world. Further advancing our understanding of strategy practice and its impact in both fostering and supporting a world of networks offers a great opportunity for academics, practitioners, and strategy consultants to share their insights on strategizing in a such a world and to work together to develop fresh stories from their lived experiences and new insights from innovative empirical research that captures such dynamism
TRACK K: Entrepreneurship and Strategy
Program Chair: Naga Lakshmi Damaraju, Indian School of Business
Naga Lakshmi Damaraju
Entrepreneurial ventures rarely operate on lone islands. They are part of broader socio-cultural-environmental ecosystems, and a large part of their success depends on their ability to shape, reshape, and coexist with their ecosystems. This calls for a very important capability on part of entrepreneurs—i.e., the ability to build and exploit networks to discover, create, and successfully exploit opportunities. Submissions to the Entrepreneurship and Strategy IG are encouraged on these lines consistent with the theme of the conference. Some of the questions that may address these matters include (but are not limited to): What are entrepreneurial ecosystems and what elements make an ecosystem successful and sustainable? How is success defined in the context of entrepreneurial ecosystem? What types of networks do entrepreneurial firms build to connect with their ecosystems and across ecosystems? What networks help under what conditions? What policy initiatives can help the development, growth, and sustainability of entrepreneurial ecosystems?
TRACK L: Strategic Human Capital
Program Chair: Clint Chadwick, University of Kansas
The Strategic Human Capital IG examines human capital’s influence on firm performance. The capacity of the firm to attract, retain, and develop human capital is central to its ability to generate sustained high performance. Accordingly, this track invites research that addresses the following types of questions: What role does human capital mobility play in shaping firm performance? How do firms manage the value appropriation challenges of ‘star’ employees? Why and how do competitive interactions within labor markets differ from competitive interactions in other strategic factor markets? Scholarship that is interdisciplinary and/or considers human capital at multiple levels of analysis is especially welcomed. In light of this year’s conference theme, we are particularly interested in work that explores the often fuzzy boundaries of firms with respect to the human capital they employ: Which are the most effective governance structures for firms to create and capture value from human capital? How do firms effectively manage human capital that is embedded in sets of workers who are not in traditional, full-time employment relationships?
TRACK M: Stakeholder Strategy
Program Chair: Sybille Sachs, Zurich University of Applied Sciences
Companies such as Apple, Amazon, eBay, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft compete in a new world of the ‘consumer Internet.’ Others, like Southwest Airlines and Spain’s Inditex (through its Zara chain), have become strategy icons for their innovative business models that ‘changed the game’ in their industries. Their business models delivered new, sustainable value propositions for specific consumer segments, in part because of the enthusiastic cooperation of key stakeholder groups. The Stakeholder Strategy IG is uniquely positioned at the intersection of strategic management and stakeholder theory, and it addresses questions such as: How does stakeholder engagement contribute to the success and sustainability of networked business models? How do primary stakeholders contribute to the discovery and implementation of new business models? How is the study of business ecosystems and multisided markets in strategy research expanding our definition of ‘primary’ stakeholders? How can insights from stakeholder theories contribute to our knowledge of business models, business ecosystems, and multisided markets? How important is the consumer value proposition, and are consumers a ‘unique type’ of stakeholder?
TRACK N: Cooperative Strategies
Program Chair: Kyle J. Mayer, University of Southern California
Kyle J. Mayer
Cooperative strategies are essential in a world of networks which drives interdependence between the firm and its customers, partners, and suppliers. We welcome proposal submissions related to the general domain of the Cooperative Strategies IG. In addition, we encourage submissions that address questions that are related to cooperative strategies and the networked world, such as: What drives cooperative strategies in a dynamic environment? How does a world of networks shape cooperative strategies and influence the likelihood of their success? What distinguishes the emergence, negotiation, management, and termination of cooperative strategies involving multiparty collaborations and networks? How do managers and firms leverage relational, structural, and organizational attributes of networks to drive organizational behavior and outcomes? How do firms develop, manage, and leverage diverse alliance portfolios? How do firms manage resources and capabilities that are distributed across network partners? What governance mechanisms, organizational processes, and experiences do firms employ to manage portfolios of relationships in a world of networks? How do firms manage the interplay of cooperative and competitive strategies in a world of increasing interdependence?
TRACK O: Strategic Leadership and Governance
Program Chair: Anja Tuschke, University of Munich
Those dealing with questions of strategic leadership and governance—be it as a researcher or practitioner—will be confronted with the many opportunities and challenges present in a ‘World of Networks.’ These networks come in numerous shapes and forms and affect how firms, teams, and individuals learn, interact, and excel. In addition to submissions revolving around the core issues of our IG, we are particularly interested in submissions that reflect on the overall conference theme and address questions such as: How does the embeddedness in multiple levels of networks influence strategic leadership and strategic decision making? How does this embeddedness interact with key elements of corporate governance like interest alignment, director independence, and roles and responsibilities of the board? What changes do we expect with respect to the composition of the top management team (TMT) and the board, the power distribution at the top of the firm, and the influence of (individual) director characteristics on team decisions? What are the opportunities and risks of being integrated in a world of networks?
TRACK P: Behavioral Strategy
Program Chair: Shayne Gary, University of New South Wales
This year’s theme of ‘Strategies in a World of Networks’ highlights the increasing complexity managers face in formulating and implementing strategy. The Behavioral Strategy IG track encourages submissions that consider questions such as: How do managers cope with this increasing complexity given realistic assumptions about human cognition, emotion, and social interaction? How do new types of organizations, blurring organizational boundaries and larger ecosystems, influence managers’ mental models of the competitive landscape? What is the impact of increasing interdependence on the search for successful strategies? How do changing industry boundaries and social, political, and ecological environments influence individual and group cognition in organizations? What is the impact of increasing complexity on individual and organizational learning? We welcome submissions from many methodological traditions, on topics such as cognition and decision making; biases and heuristics; mental models, frames, schema, and cognitive categories; reference points and risk taking; managerial goals, expectations, and perceptions; emotions, motivations, personalities, and pathologies; the psychology of bargaining and organizational politics; individual and organizational learning; and the social psychology of group decision making.
CONFERENCE SPECIAL TRACKS
TRACK R: Research Methods
Program Chair: Margaret White, Oklahoma State University
The theme ‘Strategies in a World of Networks’ requires us to examine how we build understanding of our similarities and differences. From data gathering across cultures to analyzing across levels, we face challenges from new data types, sources, and new statistical methodologies. This year’s conference theme focuses attention on new methodological questions, including: How does the “world of networks” affect our ways of seeking knowledge? As we become more “sophisticated”, what are we gaining and what are we losing in rigor, validity, view (fine-grained vs coarse-grained), etc.? What tests must new ways of gathering and analyzing data pass to move us closer to understanding? Are we using methods that define the data used or is data availability defining our methods? How do we move from the legends of past methods to improved processes? These are just a few issues our Research Methods Community will address at the conference. And while we seek proposals pertaining to the conference’s theme, we welcome all those that open new perspectives on advancing research practices within the Strategic Management Society.
TRACK T: Teaching
Program Chair: Robert Wright, Hong Kong Polytechnic University
The conference theme ‘Strategies in a World of Networks’ requires us to reexamine our current taken-for-granted assumptions about a world that is constantly being (re-)defined and where a firm’s competitive advantage is temporary at best. Given these challenges, our students need to learn more, faster, and differently than before. If this is the case, what competencies should we be (de-)emphasizing in our scholarship of teaching and learning? Which core assumptions must be put to the test and what new ones must we engage and foster in our classrooms? Inevitably, as educators, how can we better qualify our students for a complicated world? These are some of the issues our Teaching Community IG plans to address at the conference. We welcome contributions from our key stakeholders (academics, business executives, and consultants) across all IGs to submit high-quality proposals addressing the conference theme. In particular, we are very interested, in receiving proposals that challenge conventional wisdom, provide a fresh perspective, and open up new ways of thinking and educating about strategy, strategizing, and strategic management.