Looking for Theories in Strategy Studies

Scandinavian Journal of Management, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 89-108, 1990

20 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2008

See all articles by Luca Zan

Luca Zan

University of Bologna - Department of Management


This paper focuses on the need for critical reflection on the theoretical/methodological characterization of that broad area of research referred to here as strategy studies. The aim is to point out some of the features of this field that distinguish it from other scientific ambits (in particular from prevailing approaches in economics and organizational theory). The thesis I shall seek to demonstrate is that two main limitations can be identified in the evolution of thinking on this subject: the strong prescriptive vein and the so-called rationalism. The first calls for a revision in terms of descriptive theories of what is usually put in normative/prescriptive terms. From the analysis of the pivotal concept of the field - strategy - the underlying conception of the firm as a unique entity emerges as the most important theoretical contribution common to strategy studies. The second certainly calls for a closer examination and a deeper discussion of methodological issues. Rather than rationalism, what emerges is a curious methodological contradiction in this field: intentionalism - or constructivist rationalism - in representing organizational processes (the dynamics of decision-making), applied to a conception which is in itself to a large extent evolutionary.

Keywords: Strategy, decision-making, theory of the firm, complexity, interactionism

JEL Classification: L20, L21, M10, M20

Suggested Citation

Zan, Luca, Looking for Theories in Strategy Studies. Scandinavian Journal of Management, Vol. 6, No. 2, pp. 89-108, 1990, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1093235

Luca Zan (Contact Author)

University of Bologna - Department of Management ( email )

Via Capo di Lucca 34
Bologna, 40126

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