Gaining and Sustaining Competitive Advantage (2nd Edition)

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9780130307941: Gaining and Sustaining Competitive Advantage (2nd Edition)

Unlike other texts in its field, Jay B. Barney's Gaining and Sustaining Competitive Advantage, Second Edition provides the overall integrative framework necessary for understanding the rapidly evolving field of strategic management. This new edition summarizes and incorporates the latest research in a way that is accessible to students and practitioners, and provides guidance about how his research might be applied to real business situations.

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About the Author:

Jay B. Barney is Bank Chair in Corporate Strategy at the Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University. He received his Ph.D. from Yale, and has held faculty appointments at UCLA and Texas A&M. Jay has published more than 40 articles in several journals including AMR, AMJ, and AME; has served on the editorial boards of AMR, SMJ, The Human Resource Management Journal, and Organizational Science; and has also served as an Associate Editor at The Journal of Management, Senior Editor at Organization Science, and Special Issue Editor at SMJ. In 1992, he won the College of Business Research Award at Texas A&M, and in 1997 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Lund University (in Lund, Sweden). Jay teaches Business Policy and Strategy, and has taught in executive programs at UCLA, Texas A&M, Ohio State, Michigan, SMU, TCU, and Bocconi University (in Milan, Italy). He has won teaching awards at UCLA (1983), Texas A&M (1992), and Ohio State (1996, 1997, and 1999), and has consulted with more than 20 firms around the world, including Hewlett-Packard, Texas Instruments, and Arco. In 1989, Jay was elected to the BPS Executive Committee. Later was elected the Committee's Assistant Program Chair, and subsequently served as Program Chair, Chair Elect, and Chair of the BPS Division. He completed his service at the Past Chair of the Division in 1997.

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So—why do we need another book on business policy and strategic management? What does this book bring to its readers that other books don't? To answer these questions, it is important to understand (1.) how business school education has evolved in business schools, and (2.) strategic management's disciplinary status in colleges of business.

RESEARCH AND TEACHING IN BUSINESS SCHOOLS

In 1959, two evaluations of the status of undergraduate and graduate business education were published. The first, sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation, concluded that "the central problem facing this branch of higher education is that academic standards need to be materially increased." The second, funded by the Ford Foundation, described in more detail what these academic standards should be by arguing that "business educators in increasing numbers are recognizing that it is insufficient to transmit and apply present knowledge. It is the function of higher education to advance the state of knowledge as well. A professional school of business that aspires to full academic status must meet this test."

These evaluations of business education in the 1950s have had a profound impact on the structure and function of business schools. Before the Carnegie and Ford studies, business school professors were often retired managers, and business school classes consisted primarily of discussions about and applications of various informal rules of thumb for managing different business functions. Today, most business school professors have Ph.D.s in either a business discipline or a related nonbusiness discipline, and business school classes focus on discussions about and applications of various models, concepts, and theories that have been developed by academic research. Where previously the discussion of business practices was not well connected to any base academic disciplines, now teaching and research in business draws directly from, and often contributes to, these base disciplines—including economics, psychology, sociology, and mathematics.

Of all the functional areas in the business school, none began making the transition to a theory-grounded, research-based discipline earlier than organizational behavior and finance. As early as the 1930s, organizational behavior researchers were attempting to apply rigorous research methodologies derived from social psychology to study the behavior of individuals and groups in organizations. The now famous studies of the Western Electric plant in Hawthorne, New Jersey, demonstrated not only that social science research methods could be applied in an organizational context, but that they could be used to describe complex social phenomena inside firms. In finance, Modigliani and Miller's work on capital structure and the cost of capital, and Markowitz's and Tobin's work on portfolio selection, led the way in the application of economic theory to financial decision making in firms. Since this early work, finance has become, in a real sense, a subfield of microeconomics. Moreover, theoretical and empirical work in finance has had a significant impact on the field of microeconomics more generally.

Many of the other disciplines in business schools have gone through similar evolutions. Where marketing used to be taught by retired marketing executives, and marketing classes focused on the experiences of these managers, now marketing classes are typically taught by faculty with Ph.D.s in marketing or related disciplines, and marketing classes focus on understanding and applying models and concepts derived from economics, psychology, and statistics. Where operations management used to have an uncertain discipline grounding, it now has become an arena where psychological, sociological, mathematical, and statistical models are applied in managing quality, plant location, logistics, and other critical operational activities in firms. Finally, where accounting used to focus solely on generally accepted accounting rules, accounting research now draws more broadly on economics, psychology, and computer science to develop those accounting rules and to anticipate their implications for firms.

Some have been concerned that this increased emphasis on rigorous business research has reduced the quality of a business education. These observers have argued that although we now have much more rigorous methods for analyzing a firm's business situation, we have lost the human touch that is required to manage real firms—a human touch that used to be communicated to students by retired executives in the classroom. Of course, there is a great deal of truth in this criticism. It is certainly the case that if all a manager did was to apply these research-derived models in a firm, the firm would probably not perform very well. The management of a real organization is not something that can easily be reduced to a computer algorithm. Discipline-based faculty must strive to expose their students to this human touch. This is one reason for the continued popularity of case-based teaching in business schools. Not only do cases provide students opportunities to apply the theoretical models they are learning, they also simulate the socially complex context within which the application of these models must actually occur.

It is also the case that much of this rigorous business research is irrelevant to real business managers. In any given issue of a research journal, maybe only one or two articles actually have the potential to be applied in real organizations. The rest of this work is basic research. It is designed to address theoretical problems, problems that often have limited application potential. However, this basic research is often necessary before the applied work can be done. Moreover, when rigorous business research can be applied in real firms, its implications can be staggering. For example, there is little doubt that the way that firms are managed today is fundamentally different from how they were managed thirty years ago and that much of this change is traceable to work done in organizational behavior and related business disciplines. There is also little doubt that theoretical advances in finance have had an enormous impact on the structure and function of the modern economy. Leveraged buy-outs, futures markets, derivatives, and capital budgeting are all examples of economic phenomena that have been fundamentally altered by work in financial economics. Also, there is little doubt that the quality movement that swept the world through the 1980s and early 1990s found its intellectual roots, and many of its management tools, in the work done by operations management researchers. Indeed, there really isn't anything quite as practical as a good theory.

THE ACADEMIC STATUS OF STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT

Where does the discipline of strategic management stand in this evolutionary process? It is probably safe to say that strategic management is one of the least developed and the least mature of all the disciplines in the business school. Finance and organizational behavior were well on their way to becoming rigorous discipline-based fields by the 1950s, and marketing, accounting, and operations were well on their way to this same status by the 1960s. But it was not until the late 1970s and early 1980s that work on a theoretically rigorous underpinning for the field of strategic management was begun. Before this tines period, strategic management was often taught by retired managers, and course content focused primarily on describing the activities and decisions of general managers in organizations.

In many ways, the delayed maturity of the field of strategic management is quite understandable. Strategic management is an inherently integrative activity in a firm—forcing managers to bring the skills and expertise of different business functions together to conceive of and implement a strategy. Thus research on strategic management is an inherently multidisciplinary task. To fully mature as an academic discipline, each of the specialties on which strategic management scholars rely must also mature. Therefore it is not surprising that the evolution of the field of strategic management was delayed until other business functions had matured from their pre-academic state to become more discipline-based, research-oriented specialties. However, although the maturing of strategic management has been delayed, it is certainly occurring.

Two events signaled the beginning of the evolution of the field of strategic management from its preacademic stage to a modern, discipline-based research field: the publication (in 1980) of Michael Porter's book Competitive Strategy and the publication (in 1974) of Richard Rumelt's book Strategy, Structure, and Economic Performance. As is described in Chapters 3 and 4, Porter adapted concepts from industrial organization economics to the analysis of threats and opportunities in a firm's competitive environment. Before Porter, the analysis of a firm's competitive environment was not well structured and involved generating long idiosyncratic lists of threats and opportunities facing a firm. After Porter, the critical threats in a firm's environment, as derived from IO economics, could be described and opportunities facing a firm could be deduced from the structure of a firm's industry. Porter had begun to provide a theoretical structure for analyzing one critical component of the business-level strategy formulation problem.

As I indicate in Chapter 12, Rumelt took ideas that had been explored by business historians and business scholars to develop a theory explaining the conditions under which corporate diversification strategies could add economic value to a firm, as well as a model describing the organizational structure firms would need to realize the potential value of a diversification effort. Before Rumelt, discussions of corporate strategy were mired in not very rigorous discussions of synergy and the appropriate level of centralization and decentralization. After Rumelt, the kind of product rel...

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