Internal Organization and Fit


In Strategy Process , Jan Rivkin suggests that research on the process aspects of strategy is less prominent than research on strategy content, in part because processes are inherently challenging to research. There is nonetheless a large literature on this important topic, and Jan walks us through this literature by first returning to the original division in the literature between strategy content and strategy process and introducing the debate between those who believe that strategies are discovered by an emergent process of search and those who see more deliberate, rational processes in play. Special attention is played to the resource allocation research of Joe Bower, his students, and Robert Burgelman which has had enormous influence on the field. More recent contributions are also highlighted, as well as several reflections by leading process researchers on methods and motivations for studying strategy process, intended to fuel a discussion of quality standards in this research domain. In highlighting the process aspects of different strategy domains, the readings in this list complement those in several other topic areas, most notably Innovation and Organizational Form and Performance.

Organizational Learning also has a strong process component, as emphasized in Olav Sorenson’s reading list on the topic. This list traces organizational learning research – aimed at understanding how organizations improve in their ability to perform some operation with experience – focusing on two of the most prominent lines of thought: learning curves (economies of experience) and the choice of exploration versus exploitation. Highlighted developments in learning curve research include extensions that allow different firms to experience different learning curves depending on their organizational structure, their portfolio of products and other dimensions of firm heterogeneity.

As Nicolai Siggelkow notes in Fit , the concept of fit has a long tradition in the field of strategy and organizational studies. There is a large body of literature on each of two broad classes of fit: internal fit – the consistency among various elements under the control of an organization, and external fit – the appropriateness of an organization’s chosen elements given the organization’s environment. Of these, internal fit relates closely to issues in the topic areas of Organizational Form and Performance and Strategy Process, Siggelkow traces the development of the literature on fit, assessing progress in answering three key questions: (i) What does it conceptually mean for an organization to have "fit"? (ii) How can one empirically measure fit? And (iii) What are the implications of fit for performance and the sustainability of performance differences among organizations?