Eric H. Kessler,  Ph.D.

   Professor of Management, Lubin School of Business
   Director, Business Honors Program
   General Editor, Encyclopedia of Management Theory
   Fellow and Past President, Eastern Academy of Management




Journal and Series Publications

Conference Presentations








Professional Travels


(212) 618-6577

Pace University
One Pace Plaza
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Journal and Series Publications
  • Communication Across Cultures is a new textbook exploring international management from a cultural perspective. It takes a broad view of the cultural environment in which businesses trade internationally, paying specific attention to the role of communication in international transactions. It provides a comprehensive overview of the academic literature in the field, summarizing the key theoretical perspectives and introducing students to the multicultural 'big picture' in which global business operates. The theory is enlivened by a range of key concept exercises, cases and activities to help students engage with the material and ensure a solid theoretical grounding.
  • WongJi, D.M. & Kessler, E.H., 2011 In Press. Motivations of Global Leaders. In E. Christopher (Ed) Managing Communication Across Cultures: Different Voices. Palgrave MacMillan Publishers.
    • A study of key mythological figures provides insights not only to values underlying the motivation of global leaders but also to understanding different cultures. Myths establish standards of conduct by creating, maintaining and legitimizing actions and outcomes; they manage political interests and value systems of the status quo; construct cause-effect relationships; create and explain organizational phenomena; rationalize and enable stability in complex and turbulent environments. Myths from four geographically disparate regions of the world provide brief illustrations of the above, and of deep motivating forces that shape the mental, behavioral, and emotional orientations of global leaders.

  • Gopalakrishnan, S., Kessler, E.H., & Scillitoe, J. 2010. Navigating the innovation landscape: Past research, present practice, and future trends. Organizational Management Journal, 7: 262-277.
    • The management of innovation is among the most critical capabilities contributing to the success of modern organizations. It is also complex and frequently misunderstood. In this paper we first provide a broad overview of the organizational innovation literature [the Past] to distill five fundamental themes: What is innovation, why is it important, where does it come from, who engages in it, and how can it be best executed? Second, we illustrate how these concepts are applied by three companies on the vanguard of innovation management [the Present] – Google, Walt Disney, and Johnson & Johnson. Third, we project the discussion forward by considering key issues and emerging trends [the Future] of innovation management such as nanotechnology, ethical dilemmas, information technology, globalization, and sustainability. Fourth, we derive from the above analyses concrete guidelines for managers to leverage these insights and enable more effective innovation practices.
  • Bierly, P.E., Stark, E.M. & Kessler, E.H. 2009. The Moderating Effects of Virtuality on the Antecedents and Outcome of NPD Team Trust. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 26 (5): 551-565.
    • The fundamental dynamics of virtual and traditional face-to-face teams may be very different. The purpose of this study is to empirically examine and assess the moderating effects of virtuality on the antecedents and outcome of trust, where virtuality is measured along a continuum from face to face (no virtuality) to fully virtual rather than the more common approach of dichotomizing teams into two groups (i.e., face to face and virtual). The sample includes 116 different new product development teams from a variety of industries. The antecedents of trust that are studied are familiarity, goal clarity, training, relationship conflict, and process conflict. The outcome of trust is analyzed by determining how the impact of trust on cooperation changes as the level of virtuality changes. Primary findings are as follows: (1) Relationship conflict can be more detrimental to virtual teams than face-to-face teams because it is very difficult for team members of virtual teams to resolve their interpersonal disputes; (2) goal clarity is more important for face-to-face teams and less important for virtual teams in creating trust among team members; and (3) the impact of trust on cooperation is less for virtual teams than face-to-face teams. The primary implication for researchers and practice of these findings is that the role and importance of trust in virtual teams needs to be reevaluated. Managers using virtual teams need to realize that interpersonal relationships in virtual teams do not evolve in the same manner as face-to-face teams and may require different management techniques to be successful.

  • Kessler, E. H. 2007.  Making a Difference: A Professional, Scholarly, and Engaged EAM. Organizational Management Journal, 4 (1): 111-115. Transcript of 2006 Presidential Address to the Eastern Academy of Management
  • Kessler, E. H. 2007.  High Risk Technologies and Organizations. International Encyclopedia of Organizational Studies, London: Sage Publications: 593-597.
    • This conceptualization refers to the intersection of risk - probabilistic chance of success, technology - means of converting input to output, and organization - structured purposeful collective. Together they combine to describe the development and implementation of increasingly complex and indeterminate systems whose outcomes are difficult to predict. Today organizations are challenged by rapid advance of scientific knowledge and intensifying competitive pressures to innovate at greater speed, thus increasing both the promise and peril of their technological creations.

  • Kessler, E.H. & Charles, M. 2007. Strategic Implications of Nanotechnology. Business Strategy Series, 15 (1): 1-21.
    • Nanotechnology, the ability to manipulate materials on the atomic and molecular level, and thus create novel structures and materials, is at the forefront of a paradigm shift whose impact may equal or surpass that of computers and the internet. To cope with this new environment, companies will have to consider new business models, policies, and sources of competitive advantage. In this article we examine nanotechnology's potential effect on business strategy, focusing on industry life cycles, strategic groups, environmental forces, and strategic implementation. Several companies involved in nanotechnology are examined, such as IBM, HP, SkyPharma, and Lucent Technologies. Numerous conclusions can be inferred from our analyses. First, a company must formulate and execute a dynamic strategic approach to nanotechnology or suffer the consequences. Second, this approach must be reconciled with the strategic group to which the company strives. Third, firms will need to align their business strategies with the changing social, legal, and political forces in the new environment in order to compete successfully. Fourth, companies should leverage research and development efforts in nanotechnology to implement improvements in quality, efficiency, identity and the satisfaction of customer needs. Companies and leaders alike must be prepared to explore this frontier prudently and strategically to make right decisions for their organizations' success. Ultimately the article seeks to prompt an understanding of the truly significant potential of nanotechnology to revolutionize industries and businesses, and subsequently firms' strategic paradigms.

  • Kessler, E.H. 2006. Applying Theory to Practice: The Eastern Academy of Management White Paper Series. Organizational Management Journal, 160-163.
    • Business schools and academics are under attack. Their methods, their approaches, and even their fundamental contributions are being challenged. To these issues hard questions are being asked: What is the value of an MBA degree? What do their highly regimented curricula have to do with the real world? Do statistically sophisticated yet narrowly focused research projects offer meaningful guidelines for businesses? Does management scholarship speak to the concerns of managers? Does management theory connect with management reality? Do academics make a difference? The practical value of the field of management, and more specifically of its theoretical models and academic literature, is not the subject of this article. What is in question is the translation of its value and its portability from highly defined technical research domains and journalese to the actual practice of management. There is a widespread and vocal stream of thought that laments the gap between academic learning and practical doing. Only a small sample goes beyond critique to offer suggestions on how to bridge this gap, yet for the most part these works are conceptual in nature. Scarcely any show how the gap can be clearly, concretely, and systematically bridged. This is our challenge. This is our focus.

  • Allocca, M.A. & Kessler, E. H. 2006.  Innovation Speed in the Small and Medium Sized Enterprise (SME). Creativity and Innovation Management, 15 (3): 279-295.
    • In this era of fast-paced technological change companies are frequently forced to quickly bring innovative products to a competitive marketplace. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) play a key role in innovative contribution and growth of the global economy, yet face unique challenges with regard to new product development. To date scholars disagree on the effect of firm size on the antecedents and outcomes for innovation speed. We review the relevant literature, develop a conceptual model of innovation speed for SMEs and test it with 158 projects across several technology-related industries. Results revealed that SMEs had different speed antecedents from large firms, had their antecedents vary by radicalness and found speed to be synergistic with efficiency, quality and project success. Implications for managers and scholars are discussed.

  • Kessler, E. H. 2006.  Organizational Wisdom: Human, Managerial, and Strategic Implications. Group and Organization Management, 31 (3) 296-299.
    • This special issue comprises select papers from the Eastern Academy of Management Conference with the theme or Organizational Wisdom: Human, Managerial, and Strategic Implications.  The evolution of the field of organizational wisdom is discussed and the focal articles are reconciled as to their relationship with and contribution to this emerging domain.

  • Kessler, E. H. 2004.  Organizational Innovation: A Multi-Level Decision-Theoretic Perspective.  International Journal of Innovation Management, 8 (3): 275-295.
    • This paper presents a multi-level decision making perspective of the innovation process.  First, by considering how classifying the innovation process as a decision type informs the management of innovation.  Second, by exploring the usefulness of viewing the innovation as composed of multiple decision processes.  Third, by analyzing the innovation process in terms of decision domains that "enable" innovation and that "execute" innovation.  Fourth, by discussing how different levels of decision factors act as determinants of innovation.  Implications are discussed and propositions are offered which consider several critical tasks in the successful management of innovation decision process(es).

  • Hwang, A., Kessler, E. H., & Francesco, A.M. 2004. Student Networking Behavior, Culture, and Grade Performance: An Empirical Study and Pedagogical Recommendations. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 3 (2): 139-150.
    • In this paper we examine how culture influences student networking behaviors and their consequent impact on grade performance.  Research hypotheses integrated through a path model were tested with data from three countries, two in the Far East and one in the West.  Regardless of country origin, individualistic rather than collectivistic orientation predicted two forms of networking behaviors — one targeting professors (vertical networking behavior) and another targeting fellow students (horizontal networking behavior).  Both networking behaviors had a positive impact on grade performance.  In addition, mean differences in vertical and horizontal networking were detected among the three countries.  Pedagogical implications are discussed in light of the results.

  • Kessler, E.H., Bierly, P.E., & Gopalakrishnan, S. 2003. Vasa-Syndrome: Insights from a 17th Century New Product Disaster. In R. Katz (ed) The Human Side of Managing Technological Innovation, 2nd Edition, Oxford University Press. Chapter 43.
    • Edited by a leader in the field of human resource management, The Human Side of Managing Technological Innovation, Second Edition, is organized around themes including motivating professionals, measuring productivity, managing groups, and technology as a strategic resource...Chapter 43 illustrates the ever-present tensions between development efforts, testing, quality, control, and schedule pressures by retelling the classic tale of the demise of Sweden's warship, the Vasa, as it immediately sanke upon sailing away from  its dock.

  • Kessler, E.H. 2003. Leveraging e-R&D Processes: A Knowledge-Based View. Technovation, 23 (12): 905-915.
    • There is a growing application of Internet-driven networking tools to improve organizations and teams’ value-creating activities. This is particularly true with regard to applying the technology to the conduct of industrial research and new product development processes, or eR&D.  Notwithstanding, there is scant scientific research to assess how R&D teams are leveraging the Internet in their innovation activities, if their efforts are efficient and effective, and how they could do better. This paper considers the following interrelated research questions: (1) How can Internet-leveraged networks contribute to R&D project management, (2) Where are these networks applied in the R&D process, and (3) What are the likely manifestations of such networks?  It develops a framework for understanding and testing these issues, based on a knowledge-based view of the firm, to examine internal, external, and memory-related knowledge flows.  Then a three-dimensional template of eR&D networks is developed that overlays each of these three flows, based on Internet attributes, R&D process stages, and major R&D outcomes.  Research hypotheses are offered, and directions for future inquiries are discussed.

  • Hwang, A., Francesco, A.M., & Kessler, E. H. 2003. The impact of individualism/collectivism, face and Kiasu on student learning/feedback processes: A cross-cultural comparison of HK, Singapore, and the US. Journal of Culture and Change Processes, 34 (1): 72-91.
    • This paper focuses on the relationships among "Face" (mianzi), Individualism-Collectivism (IC), feedback processes, and learning outcomes in Hong Kong, Singapore, and the U.S.  An expected effect between individualism and desire to gain mianzi (Mianzigain) was generally confirmed, however, the "mirror effect" between collectivism and fear of losing mianzi (Mianziloss) was not. As, expected, there was a consistent negative effect between Mianziloss and student question asking in class (InAsk), but the positive effect from Mianzigain to InAsk was only found in the U.S. sample.  Selective effects of feedback forms on learning were highly sensitive to cultural contexts.  In the U.S., asking questions outside of class was positively related to grades.  However, InAsk had a negative effect. In contrast, InAsk was positively related to grades in Hong Kong.  For Singaporeans, only checking with students outside of class had an effect on performance, but it was negative.

  • Kessler, E.H. & Bierly, P.E. 2002. Is faster really better?: An empirical test of the implications of innovation speed. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, 49 (1): 1-11.
    • New product innovation is critical to the competitive advantage of many firms. However, there is much hoopla but little evidence regarding the benefit of innovation speed.  Specifically, there exists insufficient, often conflicting evidence about how dimensions of innovation strategy (cost, quality, and speed) relate to one another and how they ultimately affect project success. Evidence from 75 new product development projects indicates that speed is positively related to quality and has the greatest influence on success.  However, several external and firm-level factors were found to moderate the effect of innovation strategy dimensions on project success.  Results point to the fact that relationships between dimensions of innovation strategy and project success vary with level and source of uncertainty, with the clearest finding being that speed leads to success primarily in more predictable contexts.  This suggests that a fast-paced innovation strategy is best when "you know where you’re going".

  • Kessler, E.H. 2001. The idols of organizational theory: From Francis Bacon to the Dilbert Principle. Journal of Management Inquiry, 10 (4): 285-297.
    • The comic strip Dilbert has been commercially successful in portraying dysfunctional aspects of the workplace.  However, it is not well linked to related academic work and its descriptive success is not matched by its prescriptive usefulness.  This paper (a) employs Francis Bacon's "Idols of the mind" framework (b) to organize academic research in the field of organizational theory (c) for the purposes of better understanding the Dilbert Principle and outlining appropriate coping mechanisms or, if changeable, managerial actions to address its different root causes.

  • Kessler, E.H., Bierly, P.E., & Gopalakrishnan, S. 2001. Vasa-Syndrome: Insights from a 17th Century New Product Disaster. Academy of Management Executive, 15 (3): 80-91.
    • The Swedish ship Vasa was one of the most spectacular warships ever built. On its maiden voyage in August of 1628, after going less than one mile, the vessel keeled over and sank 110 feet to the bottom of the Stockholm harbor.  Approximately 50 crewmembers went down with the ship.  It was truly a disaster…and an excellent example of a failure in the new product development process. In this paper, we show how insights gleaned from the Vasa incident are relevant to contemporary organizations.  Seven potential problems in new product development are examined. Together, these problems comprise the "Vasa syndrome" – a complex set of challenges that can ultimately overwhelm an organization’s capabilities.  Each problem provides opportunity to develop managerial competencies in (a) understanding the underlying issues in these problem areas, (b) linking these problems and issues to failures described in the Vasa case and contemporary organizations, and (c) determining how to avoid or minimize these problems in the new product development process.  Our use of the Vasa case and contemporary organizations demonstrate how history continues to repeat itself in the process of new product development, and provides guidelines on how to avoid falling prey to the "Vasa syndrome."

  • Christensen, E.W., Anakwe, U.P. & Kessler, E.H. 2001. Receptivity to distance learning: The impact of technology, reputation, constraints and learning preferences Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 33 (3): 263-279.
    • The recent growth of distance learning (DL) represents a significant change affecting business education and curriculum development.  Notwithstanding its importance, research on DL is at an early stage of development, particularly in its understanding of student attitudes towards the new medium.  In this paper we examine issues relating to the "who" (students), "what" (courses), and "why" (reasons) underlying student attitudes towards DL as represented by preferences.  Results revealed that (a) students with more responsibilities (e.g., work, family) were more receptive to DL, (b) courses of less personal importance and that use more interactive technology were preferred over more important and less interactive choices, and (c) DL program reputation and need for a flexible schedule increased DL preferences whereas desire for face-to-face interaction and a structured classroom environment decreased DL preferences.

  • Bierly, P.E., Kessler, E.H., & Christensen, E.W. 2000. Organizational learning, knowledge, and wisdom. Journal of Organization Change Management, 13 (6): 596-618.  WINNER, Highly Commended Author Award, 2001, Literati Club, MCB Press 
    • To improve our understanding of the impact of organizational learning and knowledge, we propose a framework that includes the constructs of (1) data, (2) information, (3) knowledge, and (4) wisdom.  Each of these constructs is then associated with a different type of learning.  We further argue that wisdom is an important albeit missing construct in the knowledge-based theory of the firm.  A key to organizational wisdom is judgment and decision making, which requires an understanding of the complexity of a situation, but also requires the ability to make sense and simplify so that action can be taken.  Three important drivers for the development of organizational wisdom are (1) experience, (2) a passion to learn, and (3) spirituality.  Processes for acquiring organizational wisdom are also discussed.


  • Kessler, E.H. 2000. Tightening the belt: Methods for reducing the cost of new product development projects. Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, 17: 59-92.
    • Despite the fact that many firms are under pressure to reduce R&D expenditures, there are few studies which test methods for containing costs associated with innovation.  A multi-industry study of new product development projects revealed that development costs were lower when there were (a) high rewards for speedy development, high clarity of product concept, and low management interest in the project (criteria-related factors), (b) high use of external ideas and technologies (scope-related factor), (c) high number of product champions, low project leader's position in the organization, low project members' education level, and low team representativeness (staffing-related factors), and (d) low process overlap, low team proximity, low frequency of testing, and high use of CAD systems (structuring-related factors).  The final model was significant at the p<.001 level and explained 61% of the variance in development costs.  Implications for scholars and managers are discussed.


  • Kessler, .H., Bierly, P.E., & Gopalakrishnan, S. 2000. Internal vs. external learning in new product development: Effects on speed, costs, and competitive advantage. R & D Management, 30 (3): 213-223.
    • The purpose of this study was to investigate how different technology sourcing strategies throughout the new product development process influenced innovation speed, development costs, and competitive advantage.  Results indicated that:  (1) more external sourcing during the early (i.e., idea generation) stage was related with lower competitive success; (2) more external sourcing during the later (i.e., technological development) stage was related with slower innovation speed; and (3) development costs tended to rise with greater reliance on external sources of technology, but this result was not statistically significant.


  • Christensen, E.W., Bierly, P.E., & Kessler, E.H. 2000. Organizational wisdom as a strategic weapon. Studies in the Strategies and Tactics of Competitive Advantage: Management in the New Millenium, Mellen: 13-37.
    • We explore the nature of competitive advantage in the new millenium and propose a multi-tiered framework of organizational wisdom.  We argue that wisdom involves not only understanding situations but also reflecting on them and making judgements so that action can be taken to create value and ultimately to live better.  We then discuss several ways in which strategists can become wise and several mechanisms for diffusing wisdom to the larger organizational context.  Emphasized are the particularly important vehicles of executive leadership, corporate culture, and information systems.


  • Kessler, E.H. & Chakrabarti. A.K. 1999. Speeding up the pace of new product innovations. Journal of Product Innovation Management, 16: 231-247.
    • This study empirically investigates a wide array of factors which have been argued to differentiate fast from slow innovation processes from the perspective of the R&D organization.  We test the effects of strategic orientation (criteria- and scope-related variables) and organizational capability (staffing- and structuring-related variables) on the speed of 75 new product development projects from ten large firms in several industries.  Analyses revealed that (a) clear time-goals, longer tenure among team members, and parallel development increased speed, while (b) design-for-manufacturability, frequent product testing, and CAD systems decreased speed.  However, when projects were sorted by magnitude of change, different factors were found to influence the speed of radical and incremental projects.  Moreover, some factors that sped up radical innovation (e.g., concept clarity, champion presence, co-location) were found to slow down incremental innovation. Together, the radical and incremental models explain differences in speed better than the general model.  This suggests a contingency approach to speeding up innovation. Implications for researchers and managers are discussed.


  • Gopalakrishnan, S., Bierly, P.E., & Kessler, E.H. 1999. A re-examination of product and process innovation using a knowledge-based view. Journal of High Technology Management Research, 10 (1): 147-166.
    • Using knowledge based dimensions, we reexamine the characteristics of product and process innovations and their strategic implications.  We find that process innovations are mode systemic and complex than product innovations.  Also, process innovations tend to be more internally sourced, more costly to implement, and more effective than product innovations.

  • Anakwe, U., Kessler, E.H., & Christensen, E.W. 1999. Distance learning and cultural diversity: Potential users’ perspective. International Journal of Organizational Analysis,7 (3): 224-243.
    • This study examined the impact of cultural differences in the individualism-collectivism dimension on potential users’ receptivity towards distance learning. Using a sample of 424 students enrolled in two northeastern universities, we addressed three research questions: Would an individual’s culture affect his or her receptivity towards distance learning? Would an individual’s culture affect his or her preference for particular distance learning media? Would an individual’s culture affect his or her preference for distance learning in a particular course type? Findings reveal that an individual’s culture affects their overall attitude towards distance learning. Specifically, we found that individualists motives and communication patterns are in synch with distance learning as a medium of instruction or communication; whereas collectivists’ motives and communication patterns shun any form of mediated instruction or communication as in distance learning.  Implications and direction for future studies are discussed.


  • Kessler, E.H. & Chakrabarti, A.K. 1999. An examination of the effects of concurrent development on new product innovations. In Hauschildt, Brockhoff, & Chakrabarti (eds.) The Dynamics Of Innovation: Strategic And Managerial Implications. Heidelberg / New York: Springer Berlin: 281-299
    • There is disagreement on the effect of concurrent development on product innovation speed, quality, and development costs.  To clarify these relationships, we examined several new product development projects in a variety of industries.  Results from backward-elimination regression analyses revealed that (a) concurrent development was a significant factor in all three parsimonious models, and (b) it had mixed effects on product innovation outcomes -- a higher degree of concurrentness was found to increase process speed (p<.01), but it also tended to increase development costs (p<.01) and decrease product quality (p<.05).   This suggests that firms need to adopt more balanced views of concurrent development and avoid "shotgun" approaches to speeding up development.  Instead, R&D managers need to consider potential trade-offs and match product strategy to their development objectives.


  • Bierly, P.E. & Kessler, E.H.1999. The timing of strategic technology partnering. Tailoring Strategy: One Size Does Not Fit All, New York: Wiley: 299-322.
    • This paper investigates a variety of issues regarding the timing of strategic technology partnerships in the product development process.  It is hypothesized that (a) alliances that are associated with a more abstract, turbulent and newer knowledge base will more often be formed earlier in the development process than alliances associated with a more mature, stable and explicit knowledge base, (b) firms with greater absorptive capacity will enter into alliances earlier in the development process than firms with less absorptive capacity, and (c) firm and partner-based factors (e.g., size, profitability) will influence the timing of technology partnerships.  Results from a study of over 650 strategic alliances in the pharmaceutical industry between 1988-1995 reveal that alliance-based factors, and to a lesser extend partner-based factors, are strong predictors of the timing of strategic technology partnering whereas factors specific to the firm had little effect on timing decisions.  We conclude that, since the strategic value of an alliance varies as a function of its context, alliances should be conceptualized as tools or means to an end rather than as ends in themselves.  Second, because firm-based factors were poor predictors of timing, it makes more sense to speak of timing decisions as context-driven rather than firm-driven.  Third, that the timing of partnerships is an important factor to consider from both a practical and academic perspective.


  • Kessler, E.H. & Chakrabarti, A.K. 1998. Methods for improving the quality of new product innovations. International Journal of Quality Science, 3 (4): 302-319.
    • Continually producing high-quality products is a critical source of competitive advantage to many firms.  We studied 75 new product development projects in ten large companies to test potential strategic and process antecedents to quality.  Seven factors were found to significantly increase product quality:  (1) High importance placed on quality by top management, (2) High reward for process speed, (3) High project stream breadth,  (4) High use of internal (versus external) sources of ideas and technology, (5) Low overlap or concurrency of the development process, (6) Low turfguarding or "silo" orientation,  and (7) High development milestone frequency.  These results suggest that managers need to pay attention to both strategic orientation factors (both criteria- and scope-related) and structure-related organizational capability factors to increase product quality.  Staffing-related factors did not seem to have a strong impact on quality; this suggests that quality is more a function of systemic versus individual factors.   Additionally, it was found that there were some differences in the factors associated with high-quality products between radical and incremental innovations.  However, the study is exploratory and further research needs to test these findings as well as extend them to include other interrelationships between factors.


  • Bierly, P.E. & Kessler, E.H. 1998. Governance of interorganizational partnerships: A comparison of U.S., European, and Japanese alliances in the pharmaceutical industry. Managing Strategically in an Interconnected World, 187-205. New York: Wiley.
    • Given the increased rate of technological development, increased globalization of markets, and breakdown of many  traditional industry boundaries, firms often find that they are in a superior competitive position if they focus on the areas they do well (i.e., core competencies) and rely on interorganizational partnerships in other areas.  Moreover, strategic alliances provide many firms with new sources of competitive advantage, for example access to complementary technologies, access to new markets, and reduction of risk.  However, all types of strategic alliances may not be advantageous for all firms in all situations. The focus of this study is to investigate what factors influence the likelihood that firms will enter into equity versus non-equity alliances.  We test this research question by examining alliances among firms from the US, Japan and Europe.  Results show that modes of governance are influenced by factors related to both the nature of the alliance and the characteristics of the partnering companies.  Specifically, we found that (1) equity arrangements are most frequently used in more uncertain scenarios of establishing a moderate degree of strategic control while maintaining a moderate degree of strategic flexibility, (2) non-equity alliances are most frequently used when there is high uncertainty, strategic flexibility is critical, and the need for strategic control is low, and (3) joint ventures arrangements are most frequently used to establish a high degree of commitment and control but are not used as frequently for R&D-based alliances.  Country differences were also observed in strategic alliance formation.


  • Kessler, E.H. & Chakrabarti. A.K.1996. Innovation speed: A conceptual model of context, antecedents and outcomes. Academy of Management Review, 21 (4): 1143-1191.
    • There is a growing recognition that innovation speed is important to a firm's creating and sustaining competitive advantage amidst rapidly changing business environments.  However, there has been little theoretical advancement or model building regarding when innovation speed is appropriate, what factors speed up innovations, and how differences in speed affect project outcomes.  In this article, we organize and integrate the innovation speed literature, develop a conceptual framework of innovation speed, and offer researchable propositions relating to the need for and antecedents and outcomes of innovation speed.  Specifically, we argue that innovation speed (a) is most appropriate in environments characterized by competitive intensity, technological and market dynamism, and low regulatory restrictiveness; (b) can be positively or negatively affected by strategic-orientation factors and organizational-capability factors; and (c) has an influence on development costs, product quality, and ultimately project success.


  • Kessler, E.H., Ford, C.M., & Bailey, J.R. 1996. Object valence as a moderator of the framing effect on risk preference. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 30 (2): 241-256.
    • This paper tests an extension of prospect theory by comparing individuals' risk preferences for desirable and undesirable decision objects.  Results show that decision objects' "valence" significantly moderated the relationship between frame of reference and risk preferences: Individuals were risk-averse when faced with value-increasing contingencies and risk-seeking when faced with value-decreasing contingencies.  Further, qualitative data suggest that prospect theory's generalizability is limited in multi-goal problems and under conditions where probabilities can be actively managed.  These extensions clarify the applications of prospect theory in more contextually embedded decision
      making environments.


  • Christensen, E.W. & Kessler, E.H. 1995. A toolbox metaphor for navigating the strategic discourse. In L.W. Foster (ed.) Advances in Applied Business Strategy, 4: 171-202. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.
    • The business policy and strategy (BPS) literature is diverse in its methods, descriptions, and prescriptions.  By definition it must bracket the individual, organization, and environment which allows many disciplines and perspectives to claim legitimacy.  This diversity results in a  rich body of knowledge from which to draw, but also challenges the strategist to find usefulness in the writings of academics.  We argue that seemingly different approached to BPS are best viewed within a functional framework, as a "Toolbox".  Given the broad and demanding tasks facing the strategist, we propose that for every job there is a set of tools best suited for completing it.  We relate several approached to the central questions of strategy in an attempt to develop a Toolbox for the strategist.


  • Spender, J.-C. & Kessler, E.H. 1995. Managing the uncertainties of innovation: Extending Thompson (1967). Human Relations, 48 (1): 35-56.
    • Thompson’s two domain model, with its central core of rational activities separated from a mantle of boundary-spanning activities, tells us how organizations cope with externally generated uncertainties.  Innovation is an internally generated uncertainty that this model does not adequately cover.  Following Burns and Stalker, we suggest that the rational core and the organic boundary-spanning are incompatible domains of activity with different modes of governance.  Many writers overlook the problem of coupling these domains and simply argue that the "upstream" innovation activities can be managed organically while "downstream" activities can be mechanistic. Sometimes they see a mixed mode of governance being applied between the project's initiation and completion points.  We argue that far from there being a graduate transition from organic to mechanistic, there is a dialectical tension between these modes which is best managed by "nesting"  the organic within a host matrix of bureaucratic activity.  This recalls Bower’s model of the resource allocation process in a stratified organization.  Thompson’s model, apparently focused on externally generated uncertainties, is thereby extended to deal with the internally generated uncertainties of the innovation process.