Call for Proposals

You can read the most salient portions of the call for proposals below.

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Strategies For A Multi-Polar World: National Institutions And Global Competition

The world has changed dramatically since the SMS first met in London in 1981. The second oil crisis fostered rampant inflation in most of the world, bringing tight monetary policy and sky-high interest rates, and many developing countries headed into financial meltdown, debt default and insolvency. The Cold War was in full swing, and it would be another decade before the fall of the Berlin Wall would signal the start of a new era characterized by the spread of liberal economic policies. Annual flows of foreign direct investment (FDI) averaged $50-60 billion, and short-term capital flows were severely restricted by mechanisms designed to isolate national financial systems from international pressures.

Strategy research was primarily concerned with domestic competition and internal questions. A review of the first 5 issues of the SMJ indicates that only 7% of the 137 articles published in 1980-84 dealt with international issues, and about 11% dealt with institutional aspects of strategy. Two of the most influential books of the time, Ken Andrews’ The Concept of Corporate Strategy, and Michael Porter’s Competitive Strategy, dealt primarily with technical or process issues, devoid of international context, and were only peripherally concerned with external institutions. Japan’s success in the 1980s gave rise to a brief period of attention to the relationship between national institutions and corporate policies, but following the 1997 Asian crisis attention returned to the domestic scene and the inflated promises of the Internet era. Eventually, the bust, the rise of China and other emerging markets, the expansion of the European economic area in a post-Soviet era, and the growth of FDI (nearing $2 trillion in 2007) shifted our focus once again. The last two volumes of the SMJ included 18% of articles dealing with global concerns and 30% involving institutional issues, a good harbinger for the forthcoming launch of the Society’s new Global Strategy Journal.

This last decade has taught us many lessons. One is that the highly integrated world economy built over the past half-century affords few islands of refuge from economic events happening anywhere on earth. A second is that the rate of growth, considerable resilience and enormous potential of the world’s emerging markets is where the action is for the foreseeable future. Thirdly, it has shown us that institutions matter, and matter greatly. Corporations are supported and constrained by these institutions in their strategic pursuits, and may also attempt to shape them to their own advantage.

This is the focus of the 2011 annual meeting of the Society. We wish to examine not only the role of these new emerging markets in terms of their implication for corporate strategy, but also to explore the impact that new competitors, forged in these alien but increasingly attractive environments, will have on traditional corporations based in the old industrial countries. We are equally concerned with the role that institutions play, both as harbingers of competitive forces as well as guardians of the system, stimulating certain competitive behaviors while discouraging others, and favoring national players in a global world. Finally, we propose to take a close look at the intricacy of these systems and at the data and methods we employ to tease insights from extremely complex and interconnected relationships and events.

We therefore call for contributions based on important and bold conceptual advancements, as well as on innovative empirical studies, with a special emphasis on multi-disciplinary and/or cross-context comparative designs. The questions offered by the conference themes tracks and Interest Group tracks below will help you identify the most appropriate dialogue to which you might wish to contribute with your work.


Track A: Institutions and Strategy: Which shapes the other?

Track Chair: Bennet Zelner, Duke University

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Bennet Zelner

There is an increased realization of the importance of national and global institutions for the competitiveness of countries and companies. Four Nobel Prizes in economics have recently gone to institutional theorists: Douglass North (1993), Armartya Sen (1998), Elinor Ostrom and Oliver Williamson (2009). Williamson’s work has been extremely influential in management research, which has helped improve our knowledge on transaction governance and the role of the firm. The research of North, Sen and Ostrom, however, is largely ignored in the strategy literature, although their contributions to property rights, welfare economics and poverty, and economic governance are all relevant to our field. If national institutions are essential to economic growth, how do they impact firms’ competitive advantage? How do these institutions shape and constrain firms’ actions? What strategies do firms use in turn to shape national and global institutions? This track welcomes proposals in any of these and related areas and particularly those utilizing the legacy of these path-breaking economists.

Track B: Strategy in a Multi-Polar World

Track Chair: Sam Park, Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO

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Sam Park

The world’s demand for products and services will be located increasingly in emerging markets. Whereas the Triad countries (North America, the European Community and Japan) accounted for 54% of global GDP in 1980, it was only 44% in 2008, and is projected to be less than 37% by 2020. Whereas the “developed North” is expected to grow at 2-3% per annum over the next decade, the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) will exceed 7% in annual growth over the same period. Traditional Triad-based firms have suffered significant “liability of foreignness” in emerging markets. How will these companies (which derive over 80% of their sales from their “home” markets) adjust their strategies and operations to succeed in emerging markets? Will they give their emerging market affiliates the freedom and independence they need to become more competitive in those environments? Will their home market institutions support the necessary transformation process or hinder it by greater protection? This track calls for proposals addressing these challenges. Work dealing with strategic re-orientation, organizational change and corporate repositioning in global markets are particularly welcomed.

Track C: Emerging Market Multinationals: The Next Global Competitors

Track Chair: Charles Dhanaraj, Indiana University

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Charles Dhanaraj

According to the Boston Consulting Group, the top 100 companies from rapidly growing emerging markets will present a formidable challenge to industry incumbents. The sources of their competitive advantage are many: access to abundant (and often cheaper) resources (e.g., Brazil’s Vale or India’s Infosys); focus on less affluent consumers thus tailoring products and services to the middle and lower-income segments throughout the world (e.g., China’s Haier); exploit significant advantages in engineering and innovation capabilities (e.g., Embraer in Brazil); or establish dominance in their categories (e.g., Hong Kong’s Johnson Electric or Mexico’s CEMEX). This track calls for proposals focused on these new competitors. What are their strategies and how do they differ from the earlier, more traditional multinationals? How have they leveraged home market positions and institutions in this process? What organizational and resource strategies have they pursued and will these be valid in the future?

Track D: Data and Research Methods for a Global, Multi-Level, Multi-Polar World

Track Chair: Margarethe Wiersema, University of California-Irvine

picture of Margarethe Wiersema

Margarethe Wiersema

Leaders, teams and resources are embedded in cultures and industries, which in turn are embedded in national and global institutions. Any of them may belong to a personal network, a network of firms, a regional cluster, and so on. How do we account, or at least correct, for these complex relationships in our research? How do we ensure that our results are robust and free of bias? Numerous indices and measures of institutional effects have emerged in the last two decades. Are they reliable? What are their biases? This track calls for proposals that help advance our knowledge in the above areas, on relevant methodologies and databases, or that summarize for scholars in our field the relevant research. Studies and reviews of the available data at the institutional level are also welcome. In addition, this track welcomes proposals for applied seminars on how to employ particular methods to tackle research challenges in our field.


The SMS has formed seven Interest Groups around some important sub-fields in strategic management. These groups each invite interested participants to engage with them in pre-conference activities. In addition, through this Call, each Interest Group invites submissions for the main body of the conference in which the authors address aspects of “Strategic Management at the Crossroads” along with other topics relevant to the Interest Group domain. The conference program will include presentations and panels that Interest Groups select in their topical areas, along with the selections from the above conference tracks. Submissions to the Interest Group tracks are open to any interested parties.

Track E: Competitive Strategy

Track Chair: Govert Vroom, University of Navarra

picture of Govert Vroom

Govert Vroom

The Competitive Strategy Interest Group focuses on questions concerning firms’ competitive interactions withinproduct and factor markets over time. Within the broader theme of the conference, we call for contributions aimed at exploring competitive dynamics across national, cultural, and institutional contexts. For example, we welcome work addressing questions such as: How might our models of competitive advantage be adapted to reflect national, cultural, and institutional diversity? How does increasing competition from emerging markets influence the sustainability of competitive advantage? How does the integration of the world economy influence where resources are supplied and capabilities are built? What is the influence of this global integration on knowledge flows and knowledge acquisition strategies? What new opportunities does globalization create, while acknowledging the sharp cultural and institutional national differences? 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 and Governance

Track Chair: Gerry Sanders, Rice University

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Gerry Sanders

Institutional context and change poses significant challenges and opportunities for scholars of corporate strategy and governance. Thus, in addition to submissions addressing the core issues of our Interest Group (e.g., the composition and management of the diversified firm, the vehicles of growth, the roles of the corporate center and the board of directors, the market for corporate control, the use and effectiveness of corporate governance mechanisms) we are particularly interested in submissions that focus on the conference theme as it pertains to corporate strategy and governance. For instance, how does corporate strategy change as the firm becomes embedded in diverse national and global institutions? How do national institutions affect the choice between and success of alternative corporate growth strategies? How do national institutions affect the market for corporate control? Do national institutions affect the efficacy of alternative corporate governance mechanisms? What are the roles of the corporate center and the board of directors in managing a firm’s stakeholders and shareholders across markets with distinct national institutional contexts?

Track G: Global Strategy

Track Chair: Ram Mudambi, Temple University

picture of Ram Mudambi

Ram Mudambi

Global Strategy research that is more general in nature, than that targeted for Tracks A, B, and C, which explores comparative strategic and organizational studies, cross border management of corporate and business strategy operations, parent-subsidiary relationships, and foreign location entry strategies is invited for this track. Are there fundamental differences in the way firms from different regions approach strategic management? What factors explain the cross-firm and cross-location variation in the economic, environmental and social performance of MNCs? How do firms assess the economics of globalization? What are the factors that determine a firm’s geographic scope? How do networks enable small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to go international? What organizational structure and process design choices might explain different performance outcomes in MNCs’ adaptive strategies to local market variations across the globe? What is the role of MNC headquarters, both global and regional, in a dynamic network of subsidiaries? How do MNCs manage the dilemma of adhering to universal values while faced with diverse geographies with endemic differences in local values?

Track H: Strategy Process

Track Chair: Catherine Maritan, Syracuse University

picture of Catherine Maritan

Catherine Maritan

The Strategy Process Interest Group focuses on questions concerning how strategies are formed, implemented, and changed. What decisions, actions, mechanisms, and paths shape and govern strategies? For the 2011 conference we particularly welcome contributions that explore links between processes and the institutional and global contexts within which they operate. How robust are our models of strategy-making to differences in national and institutional contexts? How might variations in values, norms, and desired outcomes across global contexts affect how strategies are formed? How are the roles of managers in strategic processes shaped by institutional and global contexts? Are there unstated assumptions related to political and economic institutions embedded in the results of past process research that need to be examined as we consider strategy-making in emerging market firms? Thinking more broadly, how can the interface between institution-level and firm-level processes be managed? What can strategy process scholars contribute to better understanding the co-evolution of institutions, organizations and strategies?

Track I: Knowledge and Innovation

Track Chair: Mary-Anne Williams, University of Technology - Sidney

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Mary-Anne Williams

Knowledge and innovation are key capabilities for firm growth and market leadership in a dynamic and complex world of global, multi-level, and multi-polar competition. Understanding how to achieve sustainable performance in these novel contexts is a learning and adaptation challenge in and of itself. We thus invite contributions addressing some of the following questions: What skills, processes and attitudes are needed to identify and develop innovative business models for successful competition and cooperation in a complex and dynamic multipolar world? How can the necessary individual, group and firm knowledge and know-how be obtained, nurtured and retained? How do firms rise to this challenge, in the contemporary business environment, to anticipate and act preemptively on the macro-economic, social and institutional dynamics that shape the evolution of entire countries and industries? What capabilities, processes, structures, contexts and cultural traits accelerate firms' ability to learn and innovate, anticipate and adapt to change in a globalizing, multi-polar, world?

Track J: Strategy Practice

Track Chair: Robert Wright, Hong Kong Polytechnic University

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Robert Wright

The Strategy Practice IG focuses on the interplay between what strategy practitioners “do” and the practices they use that guide and influence their strategies. In a multi-polar world, emerging and developing markets have made global economic power more distributed, creating greater economic interdependence between nations and corporations. We welcome contributions that are novel, interesting and counter-intuitive in advancing the field of strategy-as-practice by addressing any of the following and related questions: What new ways of thinking are required of strategy practitioners in a multi-polar world? How do the interplay between strategy workers, praxis and practices differ cross-culturally? What are the micro, meso and macro implications of strategizing within and between emerging and developing markets? Where are the new theories of strategizing? How can we better leverage on a multi-disciplinary approach to inform and advance the strategy practice agenda? What new lessons can we learn in teaching strategy-as-practice? And what are the methodological innovations and challenges in helping organizations create new ways of thinking and doing?

Track K: Entrepreneurship and Strategy

Track Chair: Christoph Zott, University of Navarra

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Christoph Zott

Strategic entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial strategy are rich with tensions as both established as well as new firms develop and exploit opportunities to generate wealth. Entrepreneurial actors need to be sensitive to the internal development needs of their organizations, but also to the external institutional environments in which they are embedded. Moreover, entrepreneurial actors must increasingly navigate local and global factor and product markets simultaneously. We call for contributions that examine such tensions. Questions that could be addressed include: What are the main challenges that entrepreneurial actors face in different contexts, and how can they manage them to ensure survival and growth of their firms? How do (or should) entrepreneurial strategies and business models vary as the context changes, and what are the performance consequences of these variations? What means do entrepreneurial agents have to actively shape their firm’s destiny in various contexts?

Track L: Strategic Human Capital

Track Chair: Dave Lepak, Rutgers University

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Dave Lepak

The Strategic Human Capital track explores the role of human capital in explaining heterogeneity in firm performance. The emerging multi-polar world has introduced greater heterogeneity in human capital as well as distinct institutions for producing and allocating human capital around the world. Accordingly, we seek research that highlights firms' distinct capabilities to acquire, develop, motivate and retain human capital along with how these capabilities affect performance. Examples of key questions include: What causes firm heterogeneity in valuable human capital? What mechanisms link human capital to firm outcomes? How do firms manage the value appropriation by “stars”? Why and how do labor markets differ from other strategic factor markets? How does human capital interact with other forms of intellectual capital (social, organizational, etc.)? Scholarship that is interdisciplinary and/or considers human capital at multiple levels of analysis is especially welcomed.

Track M: Stakeholder Strategy

Track Chair: Maurizio Zollo, Bocconi University

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Maurizio Zollo

In a multi-polar and globalized economy one of the great challenges managers face is to understand how to fruitfully engaging a large and diverse group of internal (i.e., employees, owners) and external (customers, financiers, regulators, communities) stakeholders to everyone’s advantage. Particularly challenging is the task of infusing MNCs, acting in highly diverse cultural and institutional environments, with principles, shared values, cognitions and emotional traits that will generate strategic decisions and processes leading to economic, social and environmental sustainability. Some of the questions that the Stakeholder Strategy IG would like to see addressed in this year’s submissions are: how should the current strategic management theories and constructs change to reflect a stakeholder-view of the firm supporting the development of business models and strategies that generate sustainable value for the key concerned stakeholders in a multi-polar, globalizing, world? What stakeholder engagement and internal change strategies aimed at embedding sustainability principles in the firm’s practices are necessary to influence the effectiveness of competitive, corporate, growth and innovation strategies?

Track N: General Track

Track Chair: Donald Hatfield, Virginia Tech

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Donald Hatfield

Many exciting sets of ideas and assertions for strategies in a multi-polar world are offered. Interesting general questions include: What theoretical and practical perspectives can be associated with the conference theme of Strategies for a Multi-Polar World? Which theories are especially suitable? What do we know and how should we proceed? What opportunities are there for cross-disciplinary research, and what can strategic management learn from other disciplines?

Strategic Management Society