Faculty & Research in Competitive Strategy

The Cross-Disciplinary Area (CDA) in Competitive Strategy at Columbia Business School is composed of tenured and tenure-track faculty members across the School’s academic divisions who share interests in research related to strategy. While diverse in their training, skills, and ideas, the members of this group typically focus on a set of interrelated topics and draw upon insights and tools from a common set of disciplines.

Affiliated Faculty

Common Research Elements

Participating scholars typically focus on a set of common topics and questions, including:

  • Competitive Strategy: How is the value created by firm strategy affected by competitive interactions with such external actors as rival firms, suppliers, buyers, complementors, and institutions such as governmental agencies?  How can firms shape these interactions?

  • Organizational Strategy: How is strategy implemented? How do firms coordinate and align managers and workers inside the organization with a firm’s strategy and objectives? How do firms design organizations and strategies that are consistent and coherent with each other?

To address these topics, faculty members draw upon insights, tools, and methodologies from psychology, organizational sociology, economics, and other social sciences:

  • Economics: Organizational economics studies how to achieve coordination and alignment of internal agents with the objectives of the firm, and how these objectives may be captured by entrenched agents. Industrial organization and game theory studies strategic interactions and competitive dynamics between a firm and external economic actors. Other areas in economics related to strategy are behavioral economics, which incorporates insights from psychology into economics, and political economy, which provides tools to study the interaction between businesses, regulators, and government.

  • Psychology: Strategy is formulated by individuals whose decision biases and behaviors influence their choices and interactions with team members. Biases such as over-confidence and inconsistent time preferences may appear to violate the objective of firm profit maximization. The trade-off between the motivation to act and the biases that promote action lies at the heart of the contribution of behavioral economics and social sciences to the study of strategy.

  • Organizational Sociology: Sociology offers an important corrective to the tendency to favor the study of strategy as the outcome of individual decisions. The behavior of managers and workers is lodged in relational structures (e.g., who knows whom) that condition individual agency as well as being conditioned by it. These structures lend themselves to formal tools and modeling that include graph and network theory as well as simulations. The organizational sociology of strategy includes the study of alliances among firms, the diffusion of new ideas, and the architecture of knowledge inside and between organizations.

  • >Other social sciences: Strategy as a cross-disciplinary field is open to contributions by other social sciences, such as political science and anthropology, especially in regard to longitudinal field research.

Columbia’s Heritage in Strategy

Columbia Business School has a distinguished history of scholarship and thought leadership in strategy. Professors Bruce Greenwald, Don Hambrick, Kathryn Harrigan, and Bruce Kogut are renowned scholars whose contributions provide strong guidance to the cross-disciplinary social science that is a hallmark of the strategy CDA at Columbia.