jansenrjg.com‎ > ‎

EURAM 2015 ST_13-05: Micro-foundations of Strategy, Dynamic Capabilities, Knowledge, and Ambidexterity

Background text with sub point 'Micro-foundations of strategy' in standing track 13_05 call

Micro-Foundations for Strategy: Where Are They Now?

Keywords: micro-foundations, strategy process, strategic decision making, strategy implementation


The aim of the proposed topic is to further develop the understanding of the micro-foundations for strategy. These micro-foundations build on the analysis of behaviors and interactions of economic actors that underpin aggregate strategy phenomena, such as strategic problem formulation (Baer et al. 2013), and routines and capabilities (Felin et al. 2012). Whether these economic actors should always be considered as individuals is contested, but often taken for granted (Ployhart & Hale, 2014). The implication is that the discussion about the value that is added by micro-foundations has its proponents, its opponents and its share of skeptics (Winter, 2013).

Whether micro-foundations add value in understanding aggregate phenomena in strategy has extensively been discussed in strategic management (Felin & Foss, 2005; Molina-Azorin, 2014). The debate is not settled, but gradually the questions have been shifting to which aggregate phenomena are enriched in their understanding by using micro-foundations. The connection between individual actors and strategy phenomena is only understood to a limited extent, such as in strategic decision-making (Elbanna et al. 2013). Research shows that individual actors’ political interests affect politicking in strategic decision-making (Child et al. 2010), but contingent on how the context affects the individual actors it explains decision outcomes or not (Papadakis et al. 2010; Shepherd & Rudd, 2014).  By directing attention to the themes below (Foss, 2011), the micro-foundations for strategy can be developed more in detail. 

We encourage submissions that go beyond discussing the potential of micro-foundations for strategy research. The work preferably aims to go beyond the contention that individuals matter, putting the focus on how these individuals shape and affect aggregate strategy phenomena. The pivotal role attributed to individuals and their interaction is at the core of the micro-foundations argument. However, the specifics beyond the rational nature of economic actors and their interaction are only researched to a limited extent. Hence, research that identifies the salient properties for these individual actors (e.g. cognitive, personality, functional characteristics) combined with the (social) mechanisms (e.g. social networks, team dynamics) that constitute the emergent properties of the aggregate phenomenon is preferred. We welcome contributions which focus on:    

  •  individual-level heterogeneity when explaining firm performance;
  • addressing macro-constructs (e.g. routines, capabilities) in terms of individual actor’s behaviors;
  • explaining how the links between macro variables are mediated by micro-mechanisms related to behaviors (e.g. strategic consensus-seeking, issue-selling);
  • including relevant psychological/sociological dimensions (e.g. cognitions, motivations, and social networks);
  • understanding how strategic dynamics may be rooted in individual characteristics and behaviors (e.g. strategic decision-making, strategy process).

Submissions are due 13th of January. Please see the EURAM 2015 conference website for submission guidelines.  In case you have any questions concerning the call for the standing track contact the proponents. For this sub point in the call specifically, please contact Rob Jansen or Ioannis Thanos.

  • Baer M, Dirks KT, Nickerson JA. 2013. Microfoundations of strategic problem formulation. Strategic Management Journal 34(2): 197–214.
  • Elbanna S, Child J, Dayan M. 2013. A model of antecedents and consequences of intuition in strategic decision-making: Evidence from Egypt. Long Range Planning 46(1-2): 149–176.
  • Felin T, Foss NJ. 2005. Strategic organization: A field in search of micro-foundations. Strategic Organization 3(4): 441–455.
  • Felin T, Foss NJ, Heimeriks KH, Madsen TL. 2012. Microfoundations of routines and capabilities: Individuals, processes, and structure. Journal of Management Studies 49(8): 1351–1374.
  • Foss NJ. 2011. Why micro-foundations for resource-based theory are needed and what they may look like. Journal of Management 37(5): 1413–1428.
  • Molina-Azorin JF. 2014. Microfoundations of strategic management: Toward micro-macro research in the resource-based theory. BRQ-Business Research Quarterly 17(2): 102–114.
  • Papadakis V, Thanos I, Barwise P. 2010. Research on strategic decisions: Taking stock and looking ahead. In Handbook of decision making, Nutt PC, Wilson DC (eds). Wiley: Chichester: 31–69.
  • Ployhart RE, Hale D. 2014. The fascinating psychological microfoundations of strategy and competitive advantage. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior 1(1): 145–172.
  • Shepherd NG, Rudd JM. 2014. The influence of context on the strategic decision-making process: A review of the literature. International Journal of Management Reviews 16(3): 340–364.
  • Winter SG. 2013. Habit, deliberation and action: Strengthening the microfoundations of routines and capabilities. Academy of Management Perspectives 27(2): 120–137. 

Contact details:

Rob J.G. Jansen
Organization Studies
Tilburg University, The Netherlands

Ioannis C. Thanos
Adam Smith School of Business
University of Glasgow , United Kingdom