Journal Articles (Peer-Reviewed)
(2023): Interorganizational Sensemaking of the Transition toward a Circular Value Chain, Organization & Environment: .
Abstract: The transition toward the circular economy requires stakeholders to collaborate along value chains. Yet, such collaborations are considerably challenging. Given the paradigmatic change, stakeholders face high levels of uncertainty and also need to align on a common way forward. We extend research on interorganizational sensemaking and the circular economy by exploring the process of interorganizational alignment in a European consortium of over 150 companies representing the value chain for flexible packaging with the objective to transform the value chain from linear to circular. We find that the interorganizational sensemaking process unfolds across three levels—organization, value chain, and ecosystem—which provide different reference frames for the process. We provide insights into how these frames, power dynamics, and identity considerations influence this process. Our findings highlight the importance of considering interdependencies between stakeholders and a collective reconceptualization of the established value chain to successfully transition toward a circular one.
(2021): Commitment follows beliefs: A configurational perspective on operations managers´ commitment to practice adoption, Journal of Operations Management, 67 (4): 450-475.
Abstract: Companies that seek to improve their operational performance by adopting new practices often report disappointing adoption rates. The literature concerning practice adoption has tended to focus on efficacy and legitimacy drivers at the organizational level. However, there exists convincing evidence that practice adoption largely depends on the commitment of those managers involved in the adoption of a given practice. Thus, we investigate what prompts operations managers to commit to practice adoption. We draw on the theory of planned behavior to explore the cognitive foundations of 76 operations managers' commitment to new operational practices. Using fuzzy-set qualitative comparative analysis, we identify three belief configurations associated with high levels of commitment—“the Follower,” “the Pragmatist,” and “the Reformer.” We contribute a behavioral operations perspective to the literature on practice adoption by providing an individual-level and configurational view of managerial commitment to change.
(2021): Embedding energy optimization in organizations: A case study of a Swiss decentralized renewable energy system, Energy and Buildings, 235: 110710.
Abstract: Decentralized renewable energy systems (DRES) integrate renewable energy sources with energy-efficient building technologies and represent an important instrument for a sustainable built environment. Given their technological complexity, DRES also include comprehensive monitoring systems that offer important opportunities to optimize energy flows and increase energy efficiency. For these reasons, research has developed a range of automated optimization models and algorithms, such as association rule mining or fault detection diagnosis. To date, however, it remains unclear under what conditions these advanced and automated technologies may best be integrated to optimize DRES. This paper provides a complementary industry perspective, drawing on an in-depth case study of the optimization activities within one of the most advanced DRES in Switzerland. Over the course of five years, some of the optimization measures helped reduce energy consumption by 55–60%. Yet, the optimization potential of other measures remained unclear. The case study shows that, while technical aspects have given rise to optimization potential, organizational aspects have prevented, or at least delayed, the application of scientific algorithms, and have thus obstructed the realization of this optimization potential. These findings call for researchers to better integrate the technical and operational aspects into the optimization of energy systems and also offer important recommendations for policymakers, investors, and energy planners.
(2021): Beyond digital platforms: Exploring the design and competitive dynamics of cyber-physical platforms, Academy of Management Annual Meeting Proceedings (1): 10554.
Abstract: Interest in platforms has rapidly proliferated during the last decade. Yet, research has thus far exclusively focused on purely digital platforms and has failed to offer insights into so-called cyber-physical platform that integrate the digital space with the physical world. In this paper, we introduce the notion of cyber-physical platforms and contribute to research on platforms by asking what cyber-physical platforms are. Additionally, through an in-depth case study of Yourban, the Enel X cyber-physical platform for municipalities and public administrations to integrate and manage smart city services, we explore how their essential features influence the technological architecture, competitive dynamics and ecosystem management of cyber-physical platforms. Our findings show how the physical components pose a significant entry barrier, protecting incumbents while limiting the growth potential of cyber-physical platforms. We also explain why density rather than network effects appear to be more important for cyber-physical platforms than for digital platforms and why platform openness is a necessity rather than a choice for platform providers. Together, our article provides contributions to research on platforms and outlines possible directions for future research.
(2021): Change only happens when managers believe what they're saying, California Management Review Insights - Frontier: .
(2021): Kingdon´s Multiple Streams Approach in New Political Contexts: Consolidation, Configuration, and New Findings, Governance, 34 (2): 523-543.
Abstract: There is a need to conduct more diverse cross-case analyses in the Multiple Streams Approach (MSA) literature which originated in the United States, to show how key concepts, such as a windows-of-opportunity and the role of policy entrepreneurs, manifest in different political contexts. We apply Qualitative Comparative Analysis for a cross-case analysis of a unique dataset representing 20 countries from four continents. This approach allows us to highlight distinct pathways to influencing policies. We identify four configurations for expanding civic spaces and two configurations for changing policies. We identify three findings novel to MSA: there are two distinctive policy entrepreneur roles involving local and international civil society actors; effective entrepreneurship is conditional on strengthening civic voice and creating civic space conducive to advocacy; and, therefore, effective entrepreneurs often must focus on expanding the civic space to discuss policy problems and the technical and political feasibility of policy solutions.
(2019): Analyzing repatriation intentions of company-backed and self-initiated expatriates, European Management Journal, 37 (6): 784-793.
(2019): On the Nature of Corporate Sustainability, Organisation & Environment, 33 (3): 319-341.
Abstract: Scholarly and managerial interest in corporate sustainability has increased significantly in the past two decades. However, the field is increasingly criticized for failing to effectively contribute to sustainable development and for its limited impact on managerial practice. We argue that this criticism arises due to a fundamental ambiguity around the nature of corporate sustainability. To address the lack of concept clarity, we conduct a systematic literature review and identify 33 definitions of corporate sustainability. Adopting the Aristotelian perspective on definitions, one that promotes reducing concepts to their essential attributes, we discern four components of corporate sustainability. These components offer a conceptual space of inquiry that, while being parsimonious, offers nuanced understanding of the dimensions along which definitions of corporate sustainability differ. We discuss implications for research and practice and outline several recommendations for how advancements in construct clarity may lead to a better scholarly understanding of corporate sustainability.
(2019): A typology of digital building technologies: Implications for policy and industry, IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science, 323: .
Abstract: Digitalization and digital technologies are buzzwords in today's building industry. Because of their promising opportunities to improve (among others) the sustainability footprint of the built environment, they have emerged as an important topic for policymakers, managers, and researchers. Yet, the debate is dominated by references to Building Information Modelling (BIM) and to the success of digital businesses in other industries; it thereby fails to consider other promising digital building technologies and ignores that—in the building industry—many digital technologies require alignment with buildings' physical components. For these reasons, it is unclear how the implications of digital transformation of the building industry for policy and business. In this paper, we develop a typology of digital building technologies, and categorize and assess 29 important building technologies. The substantive differences among different types of building technologies provide valuable insights into how digital building technologies affect the functioning, structure, and competition in the building industry and where digital building technologies offer opportunities to remedy the industry's sustainability footprint. Based on our findings, we offer recommendations to policy makers, companies, and researchers interested in digital building technologies.
(2017): Exploring the Complementarities within High-Performance Work Systems: A Set-Theoretic Analysis of UK Firms, Human Resource Management, 56 (4): 651-672.
Abstract: High-performance work systems (HPWS) are important conceptual instruments in the human resource management literature. Yet our current understanding of the complementarities within HPWS remains limited for two reasons: First, the dominant theoretical perspectives on HPWS provide a landscape of theoretical possibilities rather than an understanding of different possibilities through which HPWS generate positive effects on performance; and second, the literature on HPWS merely proposes several seemingly equally important HR practices. This article explores the internal nature of HPWS by integrating a configurational perspective of core, peripheral, and nonessential HR practices with a typology of complementarities. Analyzing 530 UK-based firms using fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA), I identify four frequently implemented HPWS consistently associated with high labor productivity. The complementarities within all HPWS combine pairs of core HR practices with sets of peripheral HR practices. Moreover, the complementarities within three of the four HPWS rely on firms’ avoidance of implementing certain HR practices. The results suggest that the synergies of HPWS arise from efficient complementarities and virtuous overlaps, and reveal the significance of achieving high performance by not implementing HR practices. This article thus advances a new perspective on HPWSs, highlighting the challenges involved in successfully designing HPWS. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
(2017): Using expatriates for adapting subsidiaries' employment modes to different market economies. A comparative analysis of U.S. subsidiaries in Germany, the UK and Switzerland, European Journal of International Management, 13 (3): 328-353.
Abstract: Because the extent to which multinational companies (MNCs) benefit from foreign subsidiaries depends on how effectively MNCs manage their foreign subsidiaries' workforce, the international management literature has long focused on how MNCs transfer Human Resource Management (HRM) practices. However, the literature has only vaguely dealt with institutional differences between host and home countries, often simplifying these differences under the umbrella of institutional or cultural distance. This article investigates how MNCs use expatriates to adjust subsidiaries' employment modes to different market economies. We define employment modes as bundles of HRM and industrial relations (IR) practices implemented at the firm level and examine the employment modes of 76 subsidiaries of US MNCs in a coordinated market economy (Germany), a hybrid market economy (Switzerland) and a liberal market economy (UK). Our results reveal substantial differences in the expatriation strategies of MNCs that depend not only on the international focus of the MNC but also on the differences in IR between the parent and subsidiary's environment. Our findings qualify the role of expatriates in adjusting subsidiaries' employment modes to different market economies and highlight the boundary conditions of integrating HRM with IR practices in the management of foreign subsidiaries.
(2017): Integrating QCA and HLM for Multilevel Research on Organizational Configurations, Organizational Research Methods, 20 (2): 324-342.
Abstract: Mixed methods systematically combine multiple research approaches—either in basic parallel, sequential, or conversion designs or in more complex multilevel or integrated designs. Multilevel mixed designs are among the most valuable and dynamic. Yet current multilevel designs, which are rare in the mixed methods literature, do not strongly integrate qualitative and quantitative approaches for use in one study. This lack of integration is particularly problematic for research in the organization sciences because of the variety of multilevel concepts that researchers study. In this article, we develop a multilevel mixed methods technique that integrates qualitative comparative analysis (QCA) with hierarchical linear modeling (HLM). This technique is among the first of the multilevel ones to integrate qualitative and quantitative methods in a single research design. Using Miles and Snow’s typology of generic strategies as an example of organizational configurations, we both illustrate how researchers may apply this technique and provide recommendations for its application and potential extensions. Our technique offers new opportunities for bridging macro and micro inquiries by developing strong inferences for testing, refining, and extending multilevel theories of organizational configurations.
(2016): What a MES (s)! A bibliometric analysis of the evolution of research on multi-energy systems, Electrical Engineering, 98 (4): 369-374.
Abstract: Multi-energy systems combine different energy vectors (e.g. electricity, heat, cooling) and operate at different levels (e.g. building, district, and region). Although in theory, multi-energy systems should allow for lower carbon impacts compared to systems in which single energy vectors are considered individually, implementation of multi-energy systems is often difficult due to the number of technologies and actors involved and the complexity of their interactions. In this article, we conduct a bibliometric analysis based on over 20,000 articles from the Web of Science to investigate how knowledge on two important multi-energy systems, Microgrids and Smart Grids, has developed. Our findings identify areas that have been under-researched to date, offer a means of transferring learning between different multi-energy systems and provide practical guidance for the implementation of multi-energy systems.
(2016): A review of integrated QCA and statistical analyses, Quality and Quantity, 51: 2063-2083.
Abstract: Systematically combining quantitative and qualitative research approaches offers the potential for a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of social scientific phenomena. With their strong opportunities for building, qualifying, and testing social scientific theories, methodological integrations thus enable researchers to make substantive contributions that would not have been possible with one method alone. In this article we demonstrate how the integration of Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) and conventional statistical analysis offers researchers new opportunities for contributing to the social sciences. Whereas statistical analysis is variable-oriented and relies on correlational analysis to make comparisons across cases, QCA is based on set theory, is case oriented, and relies on Boolean algebra to make comparisons between cases. Drawing on the literature on the interdependency between theoretical contribution and methodology, we review studies that integrate QCA and statistical analysis to explain how the specific combination of these two approaches allows researchers to strengthen the theoretical contribution of their research. From our review we identify common challenges and provide solutions for integrating QCA and statistical analysis.
(2015): Layers of co-existing innovation systems, Research Policy, 44 (4): 888-910.
Abstract: The innovation systems approach, which has taken a prominent position in the academic literature, has also influenced policy-makers around the globe. Most research analyses innovation systems taking a national, regional or sectoral perspective, following a ‘technological imperative’. Yet changes in institutional conditions and the importance of non-technological innovation question the accuracy and the relevance of the existing boundaries of innovation systems. These developments ask for a better understanding of how innovation systems integrate within and across different levels. Drawing on a novel combination of configurational and econometric analysis, we analyse 384 Swiss firms and identify five co-existing innovation systems: two generic innovation systems, the autarkic and the knowledge-internalisation; one regional innovation system, the protected hierarchy; and two sectoral innovation systems, the public sciences and the organised learning. The generic innovation systems entail the ‘Science, Technology and Innovation’ (STI) and the ‘Doing, Interacting and Using’ (DUI) learning modes. These systems are structurally distinct and do not integrate. In contrast, all regional and sectoral innovation systems integrate the learning modes of the generic innovation systems and complement them with idiosyncratic elements. The perspective on co-existing innovation systems that we develop here indicates the existence of two layers of innovation systems: a ‘central’ layer that hosts generic innovation systems and that constitutes the foundation for a second ‘surface' layer that hosts regional and sectoral innovation systems. We discuss the implications of layers of co-existing innovation systems for policy-makers and future research.
(2014): Archetypes of Inter-firm Relations in the Implementation of Management Innovation: A Set-theoretic Study in China´s Biopharmaceutical Industry, Organization Studies, 25 (1): 121-145.
Abstract: Innovation research increasingly focuses on understanding why and how firms implement new management practices, processes or structures. Emerging in the shadow of research on technological innovation, growing evidence points towards the inter-firm relation as an important locus of innovation. Yet although organizational theory suggests discrete alternative inter-firm coordination mechanisms, the literature on management innovation has thus far treated the inter-firm relation as one broad mode of organizing. This study takes a configurational perspective to identify archetypes of inter-firm relations leading to the implementation of management innovation. Using fuzzy set Qualitative Comparative Analysis (fsQCA) to analyse 56 firm partnerships in China’s biopharmaceutical industry, the empirical evidence identifies four such discrete inter-firm archetypes: organic coalitions, bureaucratic foundations, coalitions of intense interdependency and reciprocal foundations. The results suggest that the type of interdependency, rather than the coordination mechanisms governing inter-firm relations, leads to the implementation of management innovation.
(2010): Organizational Design Choices Enabling Practice Innovation - Evidence from China's Biopharma, Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings: .
Abstract: The article discusses evidence for equifinality and causal asymmetry among inter-firm related, organizational and environmental conditions of practice innovation, which is defined as the successful introduction of new practices in an organization. A set of 105 practices identified during interviews on inter-firm relations in China's biopharmaceutical industry is examined. Practice innovation is theoretically defined as a complex process of interactions among different conditions. A configurational method called Fuzzy Set Qualitative Analysis is used to analyze configurations rather than net-effects of single variables.
(2011): Configurations of Inter-firm Relations in Management Innovation: A Study in China's Biopharmaceutical Industry..
Abstract: This dissertation proposes a configurational approach to the study of inter-firm relations facilitating management innovation. Previous research conceptualizes management innovation as either the outcome of determinants of individual firms or a complex process of conjunctural factors between firms. In contrast, this thesis attempts to reconcile the two camps by examining the conditions under which the management innovation process within inter-firm relations takes place. The empirical analysis employs data from 56 firm partnerships in China’s biopharmaceutical industry collected during field research in 2008. The population of firms in China’s biopharmaceutical industry is young, highly diverse and strongly relies on ties to other organizations. Operating under volatile conditions requires constant development of new managerial instruments. Methodologically, this dissertation employs a technique new in the study of management innovation. Fuzzy Set Qualitative Comparative Analysis has been chosen for its ability to properly translate complex theories into models and its suitability for configurational analyses. The results identify four configurations of inter-firm relations differing in their combinations of relational, structural and environmental conditions. Each is equally effective in facilitating management innovation yet employs internal and external knowledge differently to develop and implement new management instruments. The results provide a simple and well arranged decision-making tool for drafting intelligible managerial strategies and indicate that firms in China’s biopharmaceutical industry swiftly develop and introduce management instruments which soon may serve as templates for the global biopharmaceutical industry as a whole.