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Scientific Progress in Strategic Management - The case of the Resource-based view

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Prepared for a special issue of The Journal of Learning and Intellectual Capital on "Twenty Years after the Resource-based View,‿ edited by Patricia Ordonez de Pablos, Margaret Peteraf, and Juan Ventura. ; Does the RBV represent a case of scientific progress? And has it emerged as the dominant approach to the analysis of competitive advantage for this reason? Conventional criteria for scientific progress, notably those of the growth of knowledge literature, are not particularly helpful for understanding this. Instead, it is argued that in order to understand why the RBV is an instance of scientific progress, we should begin from the notion that reduction is at the heart of progress in science, and that many scientists implicitly or explicitly hold this view. The RBV is a case of scientific progress because it identified theoretical mechanisms at levels lower than those that were usually investigated in strategy research prior to the RBV. Unfortunately, the micro-emphasis of the RBV gave way during the 1990s to more aggregative modes of theorizing (i.e., the capabilities approach). Thus, the RBV represents an "unfinished revolution" as there is still considerable potential to dig deeper in the deep structure of competitive advantage. Keywords: Resource-based view, mechanisms, reductionism, competitive advantage, transaction costs, property rights. JEL Code: L2, M1

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Nicolai J. Foss

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