Department of Business Development and Technology

Sven Kunisch

Central Perspectives and Debates in Strategic Change Research

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This paper appraises and evaluates more than three decades of empirical research on strategic change. Strategic change research has traditionally built on either the deterministic view or the voluntaristic view – two opposing perspectives with fundamentally different assumptions about the influence of managers on the fortunes of organizations. In addition, a dialectical view on strategic change, which aims to bridge the two traditional views, has emerged. Despite the richness and value of research within these three perspectives, the continued accumulation of isolated and idiosyncratic insights adds little to the understanding of strategic change. In this paper, therefore, the authors assess, contrast and integrate research across the three perspectives in order to foster one cumulative body of knowledge about strategic change and to provide guidance for future research. Based on an analysis of 119 studies published in the leading academic journals in the fields of strategy and management, they consolidate existing knowledge and identify shortcomings in the cumulative body of research. On the basis of this assessment concerning prior research foci, study designs and assumptions, the authors propose four pathways for future research across the three perspectives that they believe can help foster full understanding of strategic change: (1) examinations of different types, processes and outcomes of strategic change; (2) expansion of the scope of actors considered in relation to strategic change; (3) exploration of the non-linear nature of strategic change; and (4) investigations of strategic change conundrums.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Management Reviews
Pages (from-to)457-482
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

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