Introduction to the Strategy Reader

The strategy field encompasses a diverse set of research perspectives and topic areas. This diversity is a strength of the field, but it also poses a challenge to scholars in strategy: It is often unclear how various literatures relate and why certain papers are considered exemplars of high-quality strategy research. In 2008 and 2009, we – a group of research-oriented strategy faculty on the cusp of tenure – set out to help sort through these issues. Specifically, we aimed to produce two types of output. First, each faculty member generated a list of core readings in an area in which he or she had expertise. These lists were shared, critiqued, and refined. Second, through discussing the lists, the group came to, and articulated, a collective viewpoint on what represents high quality research in strategy.

The strategy reader consists of these two types of output, in reverse order. It begins with a statement that lays out the attributes of high quality strategy research. Though the contributors to the reader came from very different domains within the strategy field, conversations among the contributors produced a high level of convergence and agreement about characteristics of High Quality Research that cut across domains.

The reader then provides reading lists on a diverse set of topic areas within strategy. Each reading list identifies a set of 5-7 “core readings” that the contributor believes are essential reading for all strategy scholars. A longer list of 20-30 supplementary readings, grouped under sub-headings, provides more depth for the interested reader. Finally, each list offers a short critical commentary that describes how the research area has developed and how the core readings have contributed to the area’s development. The commentary also highlights readings that exemplify particular attributes of high quality research.

In creating this strategy reader, we made no attempt to cover all topic areas within strategy. Rather, we capitalized on individual contributors’ areas of expertise and experience to create a collection of reading lists and critical commentaries on a subset of important research topics within strategy. Commentaries are grouped into four main areas. We have included very brief summaries of each topic area: Performance , Industry Dynamics , External Influences , and Internal Organization & Fit . Each summary lays out a roadmap of the area's contents and highlights a few of the most salient connections among the topic areas.

Our primary target for this reader is the community of doctoral students in strategy. We hope, however, that others may find the reader to be interesting and valuable. The reading lists may be helpful starting points for faculty constructing syllabi for doctoral seminars, for strategy scholars who want to get up to speed on a new area within strategy, and for scholars from other disciplines who hope to get a sense of the strategy literature in particular areas.