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Becoming a Scholar in Strategic Management

Your Path to an Academic Career in Strategic Management

Some of our seminars in Strategic Management include:

This course is designed to focus on the interaction of theories on resource-based view (RBV) and capabilities and the literature on corporate governance in vertical alliances.  The intent is to have students develop a point of view about how they see the evolution in RBV and capabilities literatures by tracing the key articles over time. These theories underpin competitive advantage and sustainable competitive advantage in the field. The course also explores the well-developed field of transaction cost economics (TCE) and the relational view on vertical alliances.  Both core theories and empirical work is examined.  The course further seeks to explore the theoretical and empirical interactions of these fields. 

The topics explored through the interaction include new phenomena of potential research to upcoming researchers.  The changing opportunities for outsourcing, alliances, and the virtual firm all represent business practices that can benefit from a more careful and empirical examination.  One such change in vertical alliances is an opportunity to change new product development capabilities for firms linking product lifecycle management software to suppliers and vertical alliance partners.  The theory is that the new product development is more open to suppliers and alliance partners but this also raises very controversial issues surrounding how to protect intellectual property in the context of this more open exchange.  Governance practices have to be recalibrated to do so.  Exactly how to do this, and the subtle mix of governance and the potential for creating new capabilities that emerges shows the importance of the interaction of governance and capabilities in the course.  Another domain in which these theories could be brought to bear is on the alliances in business platform competition in the context of two sided markets. 

The expectation is that students will identify a problem of outsourcing or changing vertical alliances and explore this from the theoretical and empirical domains studied in the course.  A project proposal should include theory on both capabilities and alliances and propositions and hypotheses that could be examined empirically.

The course is designed to address the concept of corporate strategy in strategic management research, theory and practice.  Corporate strategy, as distinct from business strategy, incorporates practices that are distinctive for the multiple business firm as it manages and seeks to achieve competitive advantage beyond what would be achievable by the businesses alone.  So in some respects there are activities that could also be pursued by single business firms such as acquisitions, alliances, etc., but which have a potentially broader scope in a multiple business firm as it expands and grows beyond a single industry or business domain. 

The course starts with a review of Philosophy of Science and Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions to understand how we know what we know.  This is useful as we think about multiple theoretical lenses interacting with corporate strategy and how they have changed the thrust of the field over time.  In particular the history of the field is traced through Rumelt’s early work on diversification, stressing different organizational configurations and management practices, to an industry structure approach to diversification, to an RBV approach to diversification, to a management capability emphasis.  Much of the empirical work comparing these different theoretical research is examined through the work on whether industry or corporate strategy matters for understanding business unit performance.

Given this background on theoretical lenses in understanding the changing domain of research in corporate strategy, the course touches on key topics to see how these theoretical perspectives have been used in corporate strategy research.  Research trends in acquisition/entry, agency, governance and compensation, and corporate restructuring topics are all considered.  It is expected that students will pick a topic among these latter areas and write research proposals that are informed of the theoretical debates considered in the early part of the course.

This PhD seminar provides an overview of the major theoretical and methodological approaches used to study the strategies of collaboration between organizations. In particular, it covers issues related to partner selection, relationship development, the role of trust, the tensions between cooperation and competition, or the interplay between relational and formal governance mechanisms. The course specifically aims at developing skills to evaluate this literature and think critically about how this area of research has evolved. It also provides many opportunities for students to discuss future research directions.
This course is an advanced research seminar on the psycho-cognitive foundations of strategy. In complement to the rational analytical models, it focuses on the links between cognition and strategic diagnosis and decision making. The seminar introduces the interpretative approach to strategy about how individuals and organizations interpret information, how their interpretations affect actions, and how actions generate market outcomes. It covers micro-level issues related to individual socio-cognitive processes as well as macro-level issues related to organizational and market processes. This interpretative approach is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing upon related and organizationally relevant literatures in cognitive and social psychology.
At its core, the strategic management field asks two intertwined “big picture” questions about business:  Why (or perhaps how) do some companies persistently earn substantial profit, while others do not?  And what, if anything, can managers actually do about it?  Basic economics teaches that, under price competition, profit is expected to trend toward zero, so in a competitive capitalist economy, any large sustained profit should be rare. In the big picture, this is certainly true: In the U.S., over half of all new businesses fail within their first four years, and only about 25 percent of all U.S. businesses achieve enough success to expand beyond the proprietors themselves and hire even a single employee. So, when we ask the question of why/how profit persists in a competitive capitalist economy, we are focused on a rare “outlier” phenomenon -- a small number of companies that beat some rather long odds. Economic theory offers four basic causal mechanisms to explain why some firms succeed while others fail -- rivalry restraint, competitive advantage, information asymmetry, and commitment timing (preemption versus flexibility). This course reviews both theoretical and empirical research about how these four theoretical mechanisms function individually and how they interact with each other, challenging students to identify opportunities to extend research on these topics in interesting ways.
In this course, we mainly focus on the tension between value creation and value capturing in interfirm relationships and related effects on the formation, governance and partners’ performance. In the first part we focus on the contingent benefits and risks associated with different types of interfirm-relationships. In the second part we focus particularly on strategic alliances as an important form of inter-firm relationships, where first analyze the formation, and governance of strategic alliances under high uncertainty, adverse selection risk and conflict of interest. In particular, we discuss the value creation benefits through accessing partner’s limited resources and hazards associated with conflict of interest, appropriation risks, and within-portfolio competition to access partner’s limited resources. In these analyses we cover different theoretical perspectives such as transaction cost theory, property rights theory, theories on networks and informal governance mechanisms, as well as bargaining power perspective, in determining the formation and governance of alliances. We also analyze the tensions between value generation and capture in venture capital/corporate venture capital (VC/CVC) investments and differential performance effects on the investors -VCs/CVCs- versus investees – and startups. Finally, we have a session on the selection bias problem in interfirm exchanges and econometric approaches to address it.
This course is an advanced research seminar related to various topics in entrepreneurship. Hence, our unit of analysis will predominantly be the entrepreneur or entrepreneurial team, but may take the perspective of the established firm when discussing corporate entrepreneurship. This focus necessitates some attention to the psychology, the sociology and the economic and technological contest of the entrepreneur. The seminar introduces the recent phenomenon in entrepreneurial settings that includes as venture capital, corporate venture capital investments, spin-offs, spin-outs, founder CEOs, family businesses.
This Strategy PhD seminar covers strategy topics related to strategic human capital and entrepreneurship. This course is organized to understand how individuals drive heterogeneity in firm performance. This course is intended to introduce you to the research conversations around strategic human capital and entrepreneurship that are taking place in strategy journals, but we will also be reading papers from other related fields. Another (equally) important goal of this course is to expose you to different research designs attempting to estimate causal effects (e.g., natural experiments, instrument variable approach, matching models).
This course is an advanced research seminar on a number of important but focused sub-domains of strategy, which may have been touched upon briefly in earlier seminars, but which are discussed more deeply here, with an eye towards connecting them to each other and to the broader strategy literature. We focus almost exclusively on the organization as the level of analysis—in contrast to micro (individual) level analysis, and in contrast to industry-level analysis.  In doing so, a recurring theme will be to conscious about ways in which a collection of individuals within a firm is much more than the aggregation of individual efforts. These interconnections, interdependencies, and dynamics will be explored, often within a context of innovation.  From an empirical perspective, we will often read works that highlight methods from economics, in addition to mainstream strategy. To a lesser extent we will learn more about simulations (e.g. NK models) to better understand why they are well-suited for exploring organizational dynamics and complex systems.

Additional Courses

To help doctoral students broaden their knowledge base and pursue interdisciplinary research, Krannert’s PhD program in Strategic Management also provides opportunities to take seminar courses from related fields such as finance and economics as minor coursework. Finance minor coursework includes seminars in managerial and corporate finance, which covers topics including capital structure, financial market, corporate governance, international finance, and equity investments. Economics minor coursework includes economics of information, labor economics, industrial organization, and game theory.

As a research-methods requirement, doctoral students can take research methods courses in two different tracks: Econometrics track and Advanced Statistics track

Guest Speakers

We invite scholars from around the world to present their current research programs. They come to share their insights on a wide range of research topics in strategy. Faculty members and doctoral students benefit from this unique opportunity to be exposed to current research trend and refine their own research. 

Guest speakers include:

  • May 2019 Evan Rawley (Univ of Minnesota)
  • April 2019 Francisco Polidoro (UT Austin)
  • April 2019 Hanna Halaburda (NYU)
  • April 2019 Zeki Simsek (Clemson)
  • March 2019 Felipe Csaszar (Univ of Michigan)
  • March 2019 Gwen Lee (Univ of Florida)
  • February 2019 Hart Posen (Univ of Wisconsin)
  • February 2019 Brian Uzzi (Northwestern)
  • January 2019 Jay Anand (Ohio State)
  • January 2019 Mahka Moeen (UNC Chapel Hill)
  • October 2018 Samina Karim (Northeastern)
  • October 2018 Yue Maggie Zhou (Univ of Michigan)
  • September 2018 Jiao Juo (Univ of Minnesota)
  • April 2018 David Hsu (Univ of Penn)
  • April 2018 Zeke Simsek (Univ of Conn.)
  • April 2018 Nan Jia (USC)
  • March 2018 Kyle Mayer (USC)
  • March 2018 Aseem Kaul (Univ of Minn)
  • January 2018 Mike Ryall (Univ of Toronto)
  • November 2017 Sunkee Lee (CMU)
  • November 2017 Deepak Hegde (NYU)
  • October 2017 Nat Balasubramanian (Syracuse University)
  • October 2017 PK Toh (Unif of Texas)
  • October 2017 David Gaddis Ross (Univ of Florida)
  • April 2017 Jay Anand (Ohio State University)
  • March 2017 Deepak Somaya (Univ of Illinois)
  • March 2017 Razvan Lungeanu (Penn State University)
  • February 2017 We She (IUPUI)
  • February 2017 Ethan Mollick (University of Pennsylvania)
  • January 2017 Brian Wu (University of Michigan)
  • November 2016 Martin Ganco (University of Wisconsin at Madison)
  • October 2016 Mike Mazzeo (Northwestern University)
  • October 2016 Hong Luo (Harvard University)
  • April 2016 Ronald Burt (University of Chicago)
  • March 2016 David Gaddis Ross (University of Florida)
  • January 2016 Henry Sauerman  (Georgia Institute of Technology)
  • January 2016 Gurneeta Singh (University of Minnesota)
  • November 2015 Janet Bercovitz (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
  • November 2015 Guatam Ahuja (University of Michigan)
  • October 2015 Myles Shaver (University of Minnesota)


All the faculty and students of the Strategic Management area convene in round-the-year pro-seminar meetings in an intimate setting to brainstorm research ideas, critically evaluate developments in the field and nurture academic partnerships. Some of the specific activities include:

  • Presentation of recent research ideas to seek critical evaluation and feedback. It also serves as an avenue to strike-up future collaborations.
  • Discussion with both in-house faculty and visiting speakers in an informal conversation. It often helps PhD students to understand the complex origins of careers, research papers, collaborations, and dissertations.
  • Discussion about various methodologies to improve existing skills and develop new tools with specialists in the respective areas from both inside and outside of Purdue.
  • Review of books, which deal with various stages of academic career such as PhD life, dissertation, job market, and tenure.
  • Ad-hoc discussion about best practices for framing a research paper; giving an effective presentation; and navigating the journal review process

Teaching Opportunities

Our doctoral program is primarily intended to prepare students for careers in academia. In order to help our doctoral candidates develop their teaching skills, we require them to teach two undergraduate classes (e.g., Strategic Management, International Business).