Organization Studies Tilburg University

Research Topic Group: Strategic Organizations

Organizations nowadays are confronted with an increasingly complex and dynamic business landscape. Against a backdrop of hypercompetition, converging industries, and political uncertainty, strategies help organizations by setting the direction and navigating through these challenges.

In the Strategic Organization topic group, we address issues related to strategy from an organization studies and relational perspective. At the intersection of strategy and organization, we study adaptive behavior and processes on multiple levels of analysis, with a special focus on the interrelations between actors.

First, from a macro-perspective, we focus on institutions, and more in particular on organizations’ strategic responses to institutional pressures. Second, we also address issues related to the organizational level, such as organizational learning and performance feedback, and sustainability. Finally, from a micro-perspective, we study topics such as strategic leadership and strategic decision-making processes.

The aim of the Strategic Organization topic group is to advance our understanding of organizational strategies, their formation and implementation, and their outcomes, across multiple levels of analysis.

Extended description:

Strategic Organization: Where strategizing and organizing meet

Organizations face complex and dynamic challenges. As strategies are aimed at steering organizations through the challenges in their environment, in-depth exploration of such strategies, their formation and implementation, and their outcomes, is of crucial importance. How organizations generate and develop such strategies through interaction within and between organizations is the central focus of this topic group.

In the Strategic Organization topic group, we take an organization studies approach in studying strategy. Hence, we focus on the relational and behavioral underpinnings of strategy formation, implementation, and outcomes, rather than on economic and financial analysis. Combining and integrating insights from the strategy and organization research fields, we investigate how organizations can adapt to and survive in the challenging environments in which they find themselves.

The work of Strategic Organization scholars in our department covers and cuts across multiple levels of analysis. First, at the macro-level, we explore strategy from an institutional perspective. Current work focuses on organizations’ strategic responses to institutional pressures as well as on the antecedents and mechanisms underlying the change of institutional fields. This work shows that the way decision makers interpret and respond to institutional complexity, individually and in relation to other organization, as well as how market emergence drives processes of de- and re-institutionalization is crucial to organizational well-being and performance.

Second, we focus on a variety of topics at the organizational level of analysis. Current work builds on the Carnegie School’s Behavioral Theory of the Firm as a main source of inspiration. It focuses on how organizations learn from feedback of prior performance – e.g., how performance relative to peers instigates organizations’ adaptive behavior. Consistency and reliability of performance cues are main topics in this stream of work. Next to this, the contemporary reality that many organizations now blend corporate social responsibility and sustainability thinking into their competitive strategy to handle social and environmental issues is a focal point of our research.

Finally, at the micro-level, we delve into topics such as strategic leadership and strategic decision-making processes. Current work builds mostly on the Upper Echelons perspective, and on configurational and microfoundational approaches. This work exhibits the crucial impact of the strategic leadership of an organization (i.e., Chief Executive Officers in interaction with other top management team members) on strategy and organizational outcomes, and how the interplay of process characteristics and decision makers shape outcomes at the decision- and organizational level.

Recent exemplary publications

  • Bohnsack, R., Ciulli, F. & Kolk, A. (2021). The role of business models in firm internationalization: An exploration of European electricity firms in the context of the energy transition. Journal of International Business Studies, 52(5): 824–852.
  • Henry, L., Buyl, T., & Jansen, R.J.G. (2019). Leading corporate sustainability: The role of top management team composition for triple bottom line performance. Business Strategy and the Environment, 28(1): 173-184.
  • Hehenberger, L., Mair, J. and Metz, A. (2019). The assembly of a field ideology: An idea-centric perspective on systemic power in impact investing. Academy of Management Journal, 62(6): 1672-1704.
  • Kim, N., Sun, J., Yin, H. et al. (2022). Do foreign firms help make local firms greener? Evidence of environmental spillovers in China. Journal of International Business Studies.
  • Mair, J. and Rathert, N. (2020) Let’s talk about problems: Advancing research on hybrid organizing, social enterprises, and institutional context, Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 69: 189-208.
  • Sajko, M., Boone, B., Buyl, T. (2021). CEO Greed, Corporate Social Responsibility, and Organizational Resilience to Systemic Shocks. Journal of Management, 47(4): 957–992.