Call for Papers 'Owners as Strategists' Conference 2022

Conference dates

21 Jun 2022 - 22 Jun 2022




Dear All

We are happy to share the Call for Papers for our Owners as Strategists 2022 conference, held online on June 21-22, 2022.

The Owners as Strategists conference aims to bring together scholars with an interest in ownership, governance, and strategy to address the overarching question of what the role of ownership is for firm strategy and governance. This year’s conference will focus on the role of owners for shaping strategy in a digital era.

We welcome papers on the relationship between firm ownership, firm strategy and new technologies (Theme Track) and submissions on the relationship between firm ownership and firm strategy (General Track).

• Kevin Boudreau, Northeastern University
• Felipe Csaszar, University of Michigan
• Nicolai Foss, Copenhagen Business School
• Claudine Gartenberg, University of Pennsylvania
• Phanish Puranam, INSEAD
• Robert Seamans, New York University

To submit your original work, please visit:
The deadline for submission is May 1, 2022.

The conference is a joint effort by Bocconi University, Italy, and the University of St.Gallen, Switzerland. The two-day online only conference combines a practitioner day (June 21) with an academic day (June 22). Academics are invited to join the practitioner day and vice versa to build bridges and foster exchange between research and practice. Academics will present their papers on June 22. The conference is free of charge.

Best regards,
The Organizing Committee
Christine Scheef, Mario Daniele Amore, Paola Taricco, Thomas Zellweger

Additional Information

Technological advancements like blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), big data, machine learning, and open platforms, are coined to be one of the most disruptive technological innovations of recent times that may fundamentally change how contracting and collaboration is organized. These technologies carry the possibility to supplement or replace human cognition and action, which can have major implications for collaboration and innovation within and between firms (Bailey et al., 2022; Raisch & Krakowski, 2021). While Coase (1937) and Williamson (1979) relied on the assumption that complex and uncertain transactions need to be orchestrated within a firm’s boundaries, technological advancements call into question a tenet of the theory of the firm – what tasks should be organized within the firm’s boundaries (Catalini & Boslego, 2019; Lumineau et al., 2021; Murray et al., 2019; Seidel, 2018). AI and machine learning have the potential to substantially reduce learning and transaction costs whereas blockchain could reduce information asymmetries and monitoring costs, and so mitigate trust issues between contracting parties (Berg et al., 2017; Cuypers et al., 2021). Furthermore, new technologies may change how firms compete (Iansiti & Lakhani, 2020), and new sources of competitive advantages may arise from human-machine interactions (Raisch & Krakowski, 2021). Also, the tokenization of assets could enable new forms of financing, thereby facilitating the market for assets, notably intellectual and creative ones. These new developments raise intriguing questions about how owners can use technologies to better manage and control their firms. Far from being exhaustive, we see the following questions as being particularly relevant to the conference:
• How do technological advancements alter our thinking about the theory of the firm?
• What are specific control or coordination mechanisms of new technologies that support collaboration between and within firms and between humans and machines?
• How will competition, competitive advantage, and the scope of firms change when new technologies become widely used?
• How can owners successfully reinvent their firm around new technologies? What are new sources of competitive advantage?
• When is technology-supported owner-control and corporate governance beneficial? Which new costs of governance may arise?
• How can owners use new technologies to execute complex routines repeatedly or to control day-to-day operations?

Firms with dominant owners play a pivotal role across the world. However, our knowledge about how these firms operate is still underdeveloped. A strategic ownership perspective acknowledges that ownership implies control over the firm and its resources and gives owners the right to decide how value is created. It overcomes prevailing assumptions about the separation of ownership and control (Aguilera & Jackson, 2010; Connelly et al., 2010; Federo et al., 2020) and owner homogeneity (Connelly et al., 2010; Federo et al., 2020; Thomsen & Pedersen, 2000) that dominate our understanding of strategic management and corporate governance today. These trends have not gone unnoticed in recent strategy scholarship; in fact, a rapidly growing stream of research documents the need to think more systematically about the strategic role of ownership (e.g., Alvarez et al., 2020; Fitza & Tihanyi, 2017; Foss et al., 2021; Lungeanu & Zajac, 2016). For instance, ownership grants the authority to pursue unique theories and pathways to value creation, making owners a critical enabler of contrarian entrepreneurial strategies (Felin & Zenger, 2017). While owner control certainly helps overcome agency problems, it raises new questions on the firm’s capacity to motivate stakeholder commitment (Hansmann, 2000; Schulze & Zellweger, 2021; Wasserman, 2017; Williamson, 1985), whether a one-size-fits-all approach to firm governance is warranted (Connelly et al., 2010; Federo et al., 2020; Thomsen & Pedersen, 2000), and how owners’ skills and competences effectively create value for the firm (Foss et al., 2021). Far from being exhaustive, we see the following questions as being particularly relevant to the conference:
• In which theories should we integrate an ownership perspective?
• Where do we need to build new theories linking ownership to firm strategy?
• Which aspect of ownership are overlooked in extant economic theories of the firm?
• What does owner heterogeneity imply for firm strategy and governance?
• What competences and characteristics of owners are important for firm strategy?