(Preamble -- Theoretical work-- Empirical work)

High quality research in strategy appreciates and builds on prior high quality work in the field.

A number of forces conspire to discourage strategy researchers from reading (not just citing!) prior work and building on it. An intense focus on the business environment facing our MBA students today keeps our attention on current trends and distracts us from the broad sweep of history. The temptation of striving to be the next great strategy guru encourages us to emphasize how our ideas are new and different, not how they are related to what came before. A proliferation of new research papers makes it challenging to keep up with current findings, let alone to read and savour the classics.
Researchers who do manage to appreciate and build on prior work improve the quality of their research in several ways. They avoid dead ends that others explored. They benefit from the logic, language, and findings that others generated. They uncover threads that can be fruitfully taken up again as methodological advances make them more tractable. They discover the deep ideas that made the classics classic. Perhaps most important, they allow the field to progress in a cumulative and steady fashion, not in fits and starts.

Accordingly, we urge strategy scholars to ask of their work: does it sufficiently incorporate the insights of prior research in strategy? We hope that the reading lists and commentaries of our Strategy Reader encourage an affirmative answer to this question, in part by pointing colleagues toward many examples of prior high quality research. Not every reading on every list is a perfect exemplar of high quality research, and the lists’ commentaries highlight some of the shortcomings of the readings. Many of the readings that fall short are classics that were examples of high quality research in their time. Quality standards in strategy research have risen over time, and we hope that they will continue to do so.