[5]. Does experience imply learning?

Jay Anand, Louis Mulotte and Charlotte R. Ren

Strategic management research traditionally uses experiential learning arguments to explain the existence of a positive relationship between repetition of an activity and superior performance. We propose an alternative interpretation of this relationship in the context of discrete corporate development activities, which are generally self-selected on the basis of superior performance expectations. We argue that firms are likely to choose to repeat successful activities, thereby accumulating high experience with them. To demonstrate this ‘self-selection’ effect, we examine the performance of 437 aircraft projects launched through three introduction modes. We show that the positive performance effect of the firm’s experience with the focal mode vanishes after accounting for experience endogeneity. We suggest that in a general case, experience with corporate development activities may be tinged with both learning as well as selection effects. Therefore, omitting experience endogeneity may lead researchers to draw incorrect conclusions from an “empirically observed” positive experience-performance relationship.

Strategic Management Journal., 2016, 37(7): 1395-1412. 

Click here for the paper: Anand-Mulotte-Ren_2015 SMJ


[4]. Disentangling the Performance Effects of Efficiency and Bargaining Power in Horizontal Growth Strategies: An Empirical Investigation in the Global Retail Industry

Valerie Moatti, Charlotte R. Ren, Jay Anand and Pierre Dussauge

M&A and organic growth are two common strategies for firms to achieve horizontal growth. In this study, we disentangle two distinct sources of firm performance corresponding to different theoretical perspectives on firm size: firms’ bargaining power with respect to suppliers and customers, and operating efficiency arising from scale economies. We conceptually argue and empirically show that relatively, M&A enhance bargaining power while organic growth enhances operating efficiency. We also find that M&A’s disadvantage on operating efficiency persists over time. In order to disaggregate these effects, we use accounting rather than financial or managerial data and test our predictions in the global retail industry over a 20 year period. We examine implications of these results for sustainability of size-based competitive advantages.

Strategic Management Journal, 2015, 36(5): 745-757.

Click here for the paper: Moatti-Ren-Anand-Dussauge 2015SMJ


[3]. Middle Managers’ Strategic Role in the Corporate Entrepreneurial Process: Attention-Based Effects

Charlotte R. Ren and Chao Guo

This article examines the strategic role of middle managers in the corporate entrepreneurial process from an attention-based perspective. By integrating literatures from multiple disciplines, the authors delineate the attention-based effects on how middle managers provide the impetus for different types of entrepreneurial opportunities (i.e., exploratory vs. exploitative initiatives). Specifically, middle managers, constrained by the attention structures of the firm, likely prescreen entrepreneurial opportunities from lower organizational levels and attend primarily to those that align with the strategic orientation of the firm. This tendency may be moderated by the presence of other players, middle managers’ structural positions, and the availability of slack resources. Moreover, in their efforts to sell initiatives to top management, middle managers may leverage “policy windows”—patterned regularities and irregularities in and around the organization—to exploit existing attention structures to their advantage or perhaps to dismantle those structures.

Journal of Management 37, no. 6 (2011): 1586-1610

Click here for the paper: Ren&Guo_2011JOM Online Pub

  • An earlier version of this manuscript received the Inaugural IDEA Award (“Research Promise” category) from the Entrepreneurship Division of the 2008 Academy of Management Meeting.

[2]. Managing Product Variety and Collocation in a Competitive Environment: An Empirical Investigation of Consumer Electronics Retailing

Charlotte R. Ren, Ye Hu, Yu (Jeffrey) Hu and Jerry Hausman

Product variety is an important strategic tool that firms can use to attract customers and respond to competition. This study focuses on the retail industry and investigates how stores manage their product variety, contingent on the presence of competition and their actual distance from rivals. Using a unique data set that contains all Best Buy and Circuit City stores in the United States, the authors find that a store’s product variety (i.e., number of stock-keeping units) increases if a rival store exists in its market but, in the presence of such competition, decreases when the rival store is collocated (within one mile of the focal store). Moreover, collocated rival stores tend to differentiate themselves by overlapping less in product range than do non-collocated rivals. This smaller and more differentiated product variety may be because of coordinated interactions between collocated stores. In summary, this paper presents evidence of both coordination and competition in retailers’ use of product variety.

Management Science 57, no. 6 (2011): 1009-1024

Click here for the paper: Ren-Hu-Hu-Hausman 2011MS (SSRN Version).

Online Appendix

[1]. Niche Width Revisited: Organizational Scope, Behavior and Performance

Olav Sorenson, Susan McEvily, Charlotte R. Ren and Raja Roy

Although strategy research typically regards firm scope as a positional characteristic associated with performance differences, we propose that broad contemporary scope also provides insight into the routines that govern firm behavior. To attain broad scope, firms must repeatedly explore outside the boundaries of their current niche. Firms with broad niches therefore operate under a set of routines that repeatedly propel them into new market segments, expanding their niche. These niche expansions, however, involve risky organizational changes, behavior that disadvantages generalists relative to specialists, despite the positional value of broad scope. Empirical analyses of machine tool manufacturers and computer workstation manufacturers support this conjecture: (i) generalists introduce new products at a higher than optimal rate, thereby increasing their exit rates; and (ii) generalists also more frequently launch new models with novel features or targeted at new consumer segments rather than improving only incrementally on existing products, further accelerating their odds of failure. After adjusting for these behavioral differences, broad niche widths reduce exit rates, suggesting that they provide positional advantages. The paper discusses how this phenomenon may help to explain the diversification and multi-nationality discounts.

Strategic Management Journal 27, no. 10 (2006): 915-936

Click here for the paper: Sorenson-McEvily-Ren-Roy_2006SMJ