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eDiss - School of Business dissertations

Author:Paukku, Markus 
Title:Essays on strategy, the firm and its boundaries
Published:Helsinki : Aalto University, 2013
Description:191 s. : kuv.
Series:Aalto University publication series. DOCTORAL DISSERTATIONS, ISSN 1799-4934 ; 218/2013
Series no:218/2013
Year:2013  Thesis defence date: 2014-01-10
Discipline:International Business
Department:Johtamisen ja kansainvälisen liiketoiminnan laitos
Index terms:companies; cooperation; johtaminen; management; networks; strategia; strategy; verkostot; yhteistyö; yritykset
Abstract (eng):This essay-based dissertation focuses on firm strategy and firm boundaries. The study addresses a clear research gap identified by scholars who note that the field of strategy lacks of a comprehensive theory of the firm – despite firms being the primary unit of interest. However, as the rich field of strategy is composed of many divergent generations of perspectives, each with their underlying assumptions, the study of boundaries requires a full treatment drawing on each lens. Thus, the thesis asks, what can strategy research tell us about firm boundaries, and, in doing so, tell us about strategy itself.

Therefore, the thesis approaches and explores boundaries in strategy from the four distinct perspectives – the classical, processual, evolutionary and systemic strategy perspectives as defined by Whittington (2001). By conducting three longitudinal case studies of multiple firms and a vast literature study the thesis is in a position to comment on boundaries as they are addressed in strategy research.

The dissertation consists of four standalone essays prefaced by an introductory chapter. The first section introduces and problematizes the concept of boundaries from the four strategy perspectives within which it is framed. Finally the overarching phenomenological philosophical underpinnings are discussed together with the methodological approaches. The second section presents the standalone essays each contributing towards the whole, independent of each other. The first essay, takes an evolutionary perspective to investigate a multiple case study of strategy in the face of external selection as firms respond to an emerging market. The second essay, takes a classical perspective, and follows a multinational corporation's (MNC) technology strategy as it forms dyadic alliances in an increasingly ecosystem based industry. The third essay with its processual perspective, analyzes MNCs' alliancing strategies as they emerge over time and are reflected in the firms' corporate international strategies. The fourth essay examines the systemic assumptions of the strategy field itself. The review of the literature finds that the management field is largely ill equipped for the study of outliers and idiosyncratic data outside the boundaries and perspectives of extant models.

The study's explicit recognition of the diverse research traditions and assumptions allows for a holistic understanding of firm boundaries and strategy. Each standalone essay, together with the introductory chapter, offers suggestions for future research and managerial implications. Indeed, the different strategy perspectives adopted by scholars and managers alike shape the way we understand firms and their boundaries, both in theory and in practice.
Opponents:Sund, Kristian J.
Roskilde University, Denmark

Chairperson:Salmi, Asta