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Becoming a Scholar in Strategic Management

Your Path to an Academic Career in Strategic Management

Some of our seminars in Strategic Management include:

  • Strategic Management (Prof. Tony Tong)

    This course is designed to expose doctoral students to a broad foundation in strategic management research. The course offers an introduction to the range of research on strategic management, from the theoretical to the empirical, and from the classic to the current. At the heart of the course is our ability to explain performance differences (both temporary and persistent) between firms within and across industries. The course begins with an introduction to the core concepts of strategy and the various factors that may influence firm performance. It then covers a number of topics that are central to research in strategic management. Each session is meant to introduce students to both classic and current pieces on the topic, and to point out some additional research that would be valuable to those with a greater interest in the topic. These topics include: strategy and the locus of performance; I/O economics origins of strategy; transaction cost economics; the resource-based view; the knowledge-based view; competence and capabilities based theory; organizational learning and adaptation; industry evolution and technical change; strategy process and internal fit; vertical integration; diversification, and alliances, and M&As.
  • Innovation and Entrepreneurship (Prof. Tony Tong)

    This class examines some of the organizational and strategic issues in innovation and entrepreneurship. This is not only an important topic for managers and policy makers, but often it also offers interesting opportunities for researchers to test theories developed in different fields. This class will prove relevant whether your interest is in innovation and entrepreneurship per se or in using innovation and entrepreneurship as a setting in which to study other salient questions of your interest. We draw from diverse disciplinary backgrounds, mainly economics, sociology (organization theory) and management. The goal is to provide the most important theories and concepts, key questions, and established empirical approaches. The emerging field of innovation and entrepreneurship is very broad and we will focus on the most important topics related to management, particularly at the macro (firm and organization) level.  Topics covered include: corporate strategy and innovation/entrepreneurship; knowledge and innovation/entrepreneurship; mobility; market for ideas/technology; technology entrepreneurship; institution and innovation/entrepreneurship; geography and innovation/entrepreneurship; entrepreneurial finance and innovation; entrepreneurial entry and exit; social entrepreneurship; and environmental entrepreneurship.

  • Capabilities, Vertical Alliances and New Product Development (Prof. Tom Brush)

    This course is designed to focus on the interaction of theories on resource-based view (RBV) and capabilities and the literature on corporate governance in vertical alliances.  The intent is to have students develop a point of view about how they see the evolution in RBV and capabilities literatures by tracing the key articles over time. These theories underpin competitive advantage and sustainable competitive advantage in the field. The course also explores the well-developed field of transaction cost economics (TCE) and the relational view on vertical alliances.  Both core theories and empirical work is examined.  The course further seeks to explore the theoretical and empirical interactions of these fields. 

    The topics explored through the interaction include new phenomena of potential research to upcoming researchers.  The changing opportunities for outsourcing, alliances, and the virtual firm all represent business practices that can benefit from a more careful and empirical examination.  One such change in vertical alliances is an opportunity to change new product development capabilities for firms linking product lifecycle management software to suppliers and vertical alliance partners.  The theory is that the new product development is more open to suppliers and alliance partners but this also raises very controversial issues surrounding how to protect intellectual property in the context of this more open exchange.  Governance practices have to be recalibrated to do so.  Exactly how to do this, and the subtle mix of governance and the potential for creating new capabilities that emerges shows the importance of the interaction of governance and capabilities in the course.  Another domain in which these theories could be brought to bear is on the alliances in business platform competition in the context of two sided markets. 

    The expectation is that students will identify a problem of outsourcing or changing vertical alliances and explore this from the theoretical and empirical domains studied in the course.  A project proposal should include theory on both capabilities and alliances and propositions and hypotheses that could be examined empirically.

  • Corporate Strategy (Prof. Tom Brush)

    The course is designed to address the concept of corporate strategy in strategic management research, theory and practice.  Corporate strategy, as distinct from business strategy, incorporates practices that are distinctive for the multiple business firm as it manages and seeks to achieve competitive advantage beyond what would be achievable by the businesses alone.  So in some respects there are activities that could also be pursued by single business firms such as acquisitions, alliances, etc., but which have a potentially broader scope in a multiple business firm as it expands and grows beyond a single industry or business domain. 

    The course starts with a review of Philosophy of Science and Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions to understand how we know what we know.  This is useful as we think about multiple theoretical lenses interacting with corporate strategy and how they have changed the thrust of the field over time.  In particular the history of the field is traced through Rumelt’s early work on diversification, stressing different organizational configurations and management practices, to an industry structure approach to diversification, to an RBV approach to diversification, to a management capability emphasis.  Much of the empirical work comparing these different theoretical research is examined through the work on whether industry or corporate strategy matters for understanding business unit performance.

    Given this background on theoretical lenses in understanding the changing domain of research in corporate strategy, the course touches on key topics to see how these theoretical perspectives have been used in corporate strategy research.  Research trends in acquisition/entry, agency, governance and compensation, and corporate restructuring topics are all considered.  It is expected that students will pick a topic among these latter areas and write research proposals that are informed of the theoretical debates considered in the early part of the course.

  • Collaborative Strategy (Prof. Fabrice Lumineau)

    This PhD seminar provides an overview of the major theoretical and methodological approaches used to study the strategies of collaboration between organizations. In particular, it covers issues related to partner selection, relationship development, the role of trust, the tensions between cooperation and competition, or the interplay between relational and formal governance mechanisms. The course specifically aims at developing skills to evaluate this literature and think critically about how this area of research has evolved. It also provides many opportunities for students to discuss future research directions.

  • Psycho-Cognitive Foundations of Strategy (Prof. Fabrice Lumineau)

    This course is an advanced research seminar on the psycho-cognitive foundations of strategy. In complement to the rational analytical models, it focuses on the links between cognition and strategic diagnosis and decision making. The seminar introduces the interpretative approach to strategy about how individuals and organizations interpret information, how their interpretations affect actions, and how actions generate market outcomes. It covers micro-level issues related to individual socio-cognitive processes as well as macro-level issues related to organizational and market processes. This interpretative approach is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing upon related and organizationally relevant literatures in cognitive and social psychology.

  • Economic Perspectives on Business Strategy (Prof. Rich Makadok)

    At its core, the strategic management field asks two intertwined “big picture” questions about business:  Why (or perhaps how) do some companies persistently earn substantial profit, while others do not?  And what, if anything, can managers actually do about it?  Basic economics teaches that, under price competition, profit is expected to trend toward zero, so in a competitive capitalist economy, any large sustained profit should be rare. In the big picture, this is certainly true: In the U.S., over half of all new businesses fail within their first four years, and only about 25 percent of all U.S. businesses achieve enough success to expand beyond the proprietors themselves and hire even a single employee. So, when we ask the question of why/how profit persists in a competitive capitalist economy, we are focused on a rare “outlier” phenomenon -- a small number of companies that beat some rather long odds. Economic theory offers four basic causal mechanisms to explain why some firms succeed while others fail -- rivalry restraint, competitive advantage, information asymmetry, and commitment timing (preemption versus flexibility). This course reviews both theoretical and empirical research about how these four theoretical mechanisms function individually and how they interact with each other, challenging students to identify opportunities to extend research on these topics in interesting ways.

  • The Analyses of Value Generation Versus Value Capture in Interfirm Partnerships (Prof. Umit Ozmel)

    In this course, we mainly focus on the tension between value creation and value capturing in interfirm relationships and related effects on the formation, governance and partners’ performance. In the first part we focus on the contingent benefits and risks associated with different types of interfirm-relationships. In the second part we focus particularly on strategic alliances as an important form of inter-firm relationships, where first analyze the formation, and governance of strategic alliances under high uncertainty, adverse selection risk and conflict of interest. In particular, we discuss the value creation benefits through accessing partner’s limited resources and hazards associated with conflict of interest, appropriation risks, and within-portfolio competition to access partner’s limited resources. In these analyses we cover different theoretical perspectives such as transaction cost theory, property rights theory, theories on networks and informal governance mechanisms, as well as bargaining power perspective, in determining the formation and governance of alliances. We also analyze the tensions between value generation and capture in venture capital/corporate venture capital (VC/CVC) investments and differential performance effects on the investors -VCs/CVCs- versus investees – and startups. Finally, we have a session on the selection bias problem in interfirm exchanges and econometric approaches to address it. 

  • Recent Topics in Entrepreneurship (Prof. Joon Mahn Lee)

    This course is an advanced research seminar related to various topics in entrepreneurship. Hence, our unit of analysis will predominantly be the entrepreneur or entrepreneurial team, but may take the perspective of the established firm when discussing corporate entrepreneurship. This focus necessitates some attention to the psychology, the sociology and the economic and technological contest of the entrepreneur. The seminar introduces the recent phenomenon in entrepreneurial settings that includes as venture capital, corporate venture capital investments, spin-offs, spin-outs, founder CEOs, family businesses.

  • Corporate Governance Issues in Strategy (Prof. Joon Mahn Lee)

    This course is an advanced research seminar related to strategic issues focusing on corporate governance of the firm. Hence, our unit of analysis will predominantly be the CEOs, top management teams, board of directors and shareholders. This phenomenon driven approach is interdisciplinary in nature, drawing upon related and organizationally relevant literatures in psychology, the sociology, and economics. The main goals of this seminar are to become familiar with relevant research on corporate governance, develop related research questions, and design empirical studies by the end of the class.

Additional Courses

To help doctoral students broaden their knowledge base and pursue interdisciplinary research, Krannert’s PhD program in Strategic Management also provides opportunities to take seminar courses from related fields such as finance and economics as minor coursework. Finance minor coursework includes seminars in managerial and corporate finance, which covers topics including capital structure, financial market, corporate governance, international finance, and equity investments. Economics minor coursework includes economics of information, labor economics, industrial organization, and game theory.

As a research-methods requirement, doctoral students can take research methods courses in two different tracks: Econometrics track and Advanced Statistics track

Guest Speakers

We invite scholars from around the world to present their current research programs. They come to share their insights on a wide range of research topics in strategy. Faculty members and doctoral students benefit from this unique opportunity to be exposed to current research trend and refine their own research. 

Recent guest speakers include:

  • November 2016 Martin Ganco (University of Wisconsin at Madison)
  • October 2016 Mike Mazzeo (Northwestern University)
  • October 2016 Hong Luo (Harvard University)
  • April 2016 Ronald Burt (University of Chicago)
  • March 2016 David Gaddis Ross (University of Florida)
  • January 2016 Henry Sauerman  (Georgia Institute of Technology)
  • January 2016 Gurneeta Singh (University of Minnesota)
  • November 2015 Janet Bercovitz (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
  • November 2015 Guatam Ahuja (University of Michigan)
  • October 2015 Myles Shaver (University of Minnesota)

Upcoming guest speakers include:

  • January 2017 Brian Wu (University of Michigan)
  • February 2017 Ethan Mollick (University of Pennsylvania)

In addition, we share guest speaker series together with the strategy group at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


All the faculty and students of the Strategic Management area convene in round-the-year pro-seminar meetings in an intimate setting to brainstorm research ideas, critically evaluate developments in the field and nurture academic partnerships. Some of the specific activities include:

  • Presentation of recent research ideas to seek critical evaluation and feedback. It also serves as an avenue to strike-up future collaborations.
  • Discussion with both in-house faculty and visiting speakers in an informal conversation. It often helps PhD students to understand the complex origins of careers, research papers, collaborations, and dissertations.
  • Discussion about various methodologies to improve existing skills and develop new tools with specialists in the respective areas from both inside and outside of Purdue.
  • Review of books, which deal with various stages of academic career such as PhD life, dissertation, job market, and tenure.
  • Ad-hoc discussion about best practices for framing a research paper; giving an effective presentation; and navigating the journal review process

Teaching Opportunities

Our doctoral program is primarily intended to prepare students for careers in academia. In order to help our doctoral candidates develop their teaching skills, we require them to teach two undergraduate classes (e.g., Strategic Management, International Business).