Research in strategic management on the one hand and strategic marketing on the other have traditionally tended to go separate paths. Strategic management research has focused on topics such as dynamic firm-internal capabilities, competitive actions and dynamics, upper echelons of corporations, strategic leadership, and strategy practices and processes. The customer and market viewpoint has often been missing. Strategic marketing research has studied corporate orientations and their performance implications, customer value and customer relationships, marketing performance measurement, and value networks. Therein, the top management and leadership viewpoint has been scarce.
This course offers a business history perspective to strategic management and marketing. It has often been claimed that a lot of management research is void of relevant historical understanding, which may lead practicing managers to repeat past mistakes (e.g. in the case of business cycles). Extant historical studies on the above-mentioned diverse topics on strategy and marketing published in the leading journals of these fields are included in the readings package of the course. What is more, the students prepare and present an academic seminar paper on a chosen historical topic. This not only offers insights into historical past-dependencies in strategy-making and marketing activities in different industry and company settings, but also sheds light on how the historical research method can be successfully applied to provide answers to relevant research questions.
Organization & Faculty
Henrikki Tikkanen is professor of Marketing at Aalto University School of Business, Department of Marketing since 2004. With more than 80 journal publications (e.g. Journal of Marketing, Strategic Management Journal, Journal of Management Studies) in the areas of strategic management, marketing, and leadership, Tikkanen is one of the most published academics in the Nordic countries in the topic areas of the course. A business historical research approach is a common denominator in many of prof. Tikkanen’s studies. He has also served as a professor at Stockholm University, Helsinki University of Technology, University of Oulu and as a visiting professor at ESCP Europe (Paris), Asian Institute of Technology (Bangkok) and ESC Lille, France.
Eric Arnould is Visiting Professor of Marketing at the Aalto University Business School and Adjunct Professor at EMLYON France. He formerly held a social science chair in the Danish Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS). He has been on the faculty of universities in four European countries and held posts in North America. He has pursued a career in applied social science since receiving his BA in 1973 from Bard College, receiving a PhD in anthropology from the University of Arizona in 1982. Ethnographic research in West Africa both basic and applied provide the foundation for his approach to contemporary market mediated society. Marcel Mauss and Marshall Sahlins are two of his scholarly role models, although his intellectual debts are many. Eric’s research on consumer culture, cultural marketing strategy, qualitative research methods, services marketing and marketing and development appears in over 90 articles and chapters in major social science and managerial periodicals and books. His current interests include collective consumer creativity, human branding, sustainable business practice, visual representations, and digital mobility. He is at work on a collective text in consumer culture theory.
Antti Sihvonen is a postdoctoral researcher at Aalto University School of Business, Department of Marketing. He will start as a senior lecturer at the University of Karlstad in Sweden in 2017. His research concentrates on product and market development, focusing on the organizational and cultural processes though which products and markets are developed. His research has been published in journals such as Journal of Retailing.
Juho-Petteri Huhtala is professor Tikkanen’s doctoral student focusing on strategic marketing and innovation.
Upon completion of the course, students will:
Understand the role of historical knowledge in
the evolution of industries and companies
Understand how central concepts in strategy and
marketing (e.g. dynamic capabilities, market orientation) have evolved and how
they have been adopted and applied in real-life company settings
Understand how the historical method can be
applied to the study of diverse topics in management research
- Be able to write and present a concise academic seminar paper on a chosen historical topic.
This course is an intensive 9-session (+1 presentation session) course, each session containing 2-3 academic articles as the readings. Learning methods are a combination of lectures and interactive group discussions on the readings and other assignments. During the presentation session, the students present a 4 000-6 000 word academic seminar paper they have prepared on a chosen business historical topic.
Readings assignment (20 % of the grade)
Academic discussion on the assigned readings and completion of the related assignment are important parts of class participation and passing the course. In order to be appropriately prepared for the seminar sessions, the students are expected to have read all papers related to a specific seminar session beforehand. This reading package consists of altogether 16 journal articles/book chapters.
In addition to reading the article package assigned to the course, the students are expected to write QAQC-analyses of each of the mandatory articles. Please write succinctly, preferably no more than half a page per article. The maximum length of the readings assignment is thus ca. 10 pages (Times New Roman, size 12, 1,5-spaced).
QAQC analysis consists of the following steps:
• Quote: Select a quote from the paper that summarizes the study,
using the words of the author(s).
• Argument: Summarize the main argument of the paper in your own
words. No more than a few sentences.
• Question: Pose a question that you would like to discuss in the
• Connection: Describe how the focal article relates to other articles in the same session. No more than a few sentences.
The idea of the readings assignment is to encourage students to read through the assigned reading package before the course and it also functions as a springboard for discussion during the course as the instructors will direct discussion to focus on the questions posed by the students.
We strongly recommend that you do the assignment before the contact period to maximize your learning. However, this is not strictly enforced. The deadline for handing in the final assignment is the same as for the final learning diary.
Class participation and discussion (10 % of the grade)
All the participants are expected to participate in class and contribute actively to the group’s learning experience. The pre-readings are carefully selected to stimulate constructive discussions on each topic, and the instructors will facilitate the discussions in a pair/team-teaching format. The general aim of the course is to develop critical thinking and debate about theoretical discourses both in strategic management and marketing from a business historical angle. A student can be away from the 9 sessions only once.
Seminar paper (50 % of the grade)
The students prepare (alone or in teams of 2-3 students) an academic
seminar paper on a chosen business historical subject (presented in the first
seminar session or chosen by the students themselves, the professor has to
accept the themes) comprising 4 000-6 000 words and present the paper during
the last session. The aim is to practice the writing and presenting of an
academic paper. The professor and the rest of the course participants act as
commentators to all of the papers.
There are three options for a seminar paper:
1. Paper based on extant historical data: Sek & Grey - Company self-presentation in the professional service industry. Sek & Grey is among the largest advertising agencies in Finland. The data for this exercise consists of a sequence of company presentations ranging from the year 1980 to 2002. The task is to analyze: 1) What does Sek & Grey sell to their clients, 2) how has this changed over the years, and 3) what can we learn from these changes, if anything?
2. Paper on the evolution of an industry and/or corporation. The theme (including the research question and theoretical foundation or angle from which you analyze the evolution process) and the subject (i.e. the industry or the company, such as Nokia, Intel or ICT sector) can be chosen by the students. This option requires data gathering from public sources, e.g. annual reports.
3. Review paper on historical phenomena. The historical phenomena can be chosen by the students (e.g. The influence of Classical Management Thinkers: Taylor and Fayol). The review should consist of at least 10-15 papers that summarizes well the discussion around a chosen historical phenomenon.
Learning diary (20 % of the
After the seminar sessions, students are expected to complete an independent learning diary. The learning diary should reflect both the overall learning experience, as well as the key takeaways from the pre-readings, class discussions, and their work on preparing and presenting a seminar paper. Therefore, it is highly recommended to the students to take notes on their learning and new ideas and questions raised throughout the course. The maximum length of the learning diary is 10 pages (Times New Roman, size 12, 1,5-spaced).
Assignment due dates
In order to complete the course, the students are expected to:
Read the assigned readings in advance for each session.
Attend minimum of 8 of the 9 seminar sessions and
participate actively in the class discussions.
Compile and present a 4000-6000 word academic
seminar paper on a chosen business historical topic (written alone or in a team
of 2-3 students) during the last session of the course. The final and corrected
version of the seminar paper must be submitted by the end of April, 2017.
Complete an independent readings assignment (no
more than 10 pages in length) and learning diary (no more that 10 pages) and
return it by the end of April, 2017.
You may combine these two deliverables into one file to be submitted to the
All the deliverables should be returned to the course coordinator, Juho-Petteri Huhtala (firstname.lastname@example.org). No late submissions will be accepted.