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Vromen, Jack, J. (2008) MICRO-FOUNDATIONS IN STRATEGIC MANAGEMENT: SQUARING COLEMAN’S DIAGRAM. In: [2008] Reduction and the Special Sciences (Tilburg, April 10-12, 2008).

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    In a series of joint papers, Teppo Felin and Nicolai J. Foss recently launched a microfoundations project in the field of strategic management. Felin and Foss observe that extant explanations in strategic management are predominantly collectivist or macro. Routines and organizational capabilities, which are supposed to be properties of firms, loom large in the field of strategic management. Routines figure as explanantia in explanations of firm behavior and firm performance, for example. Felin and Foss plead for a replacement of such macro-explanations by micro-explanations (viz. explanations in terms of individual action and interaction). Such a replacement is needed, Felin and Foss argue, because macro-explanations are necessarily incomplete: they miss out on crucial links in the causal chain that connect macro phenomena with each other. I argue that this argument is flawed. It is based on a doubtful if not outright incorrect understanding and use of Coleman’s diagram. In a sense to be explained below, only if Coleman’s diagram is squared it can accurately account for the relations between individual action and interaction, routines and firm behavior and firm performance. Once Coleman’s diagram is squared, one can see why and how macro-explanations need not miss out on any link in the causal chains that connect macro phenomena. Micro-analyses are still needed, not to highlight and specify causal links that macro-explanations miss out on, but to check whether the many properties that are ascribed to routines in macro-explanations of firm behavior are warranted.

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    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
    Keywords: microfoundations, strategic management, routines, Coleman’s diagram, mechanisms, mechanistic explanation
    Subjects: Specific Sciences > Economics
    General Issues > Explanation
    Conferences and Volumes: [2008] Reduction and the Special Sciences (Tilburg, April 10-12, 2008)
    Depositing User: Jack J. Vromen
    Date Deposited: 17 May 2008
    Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 11:16
    Item ID: 4021

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