Institute for Strategy, Technology and Organization (ISTO)
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Research Profile

The Institute for Strategy, Technology and Organization (ISTO) aspires to participate in and contribute to the worldwide research community. Our work covers the areas of Strategy, Technology and Organization and in particular its intersections. We often start from a phenomenon that requires explaining or from an interesting, multifaceted empirical context. However, while we often take the phenomenon as a starting point we adopt multiple methodological approaches and theoretical lenses to tackle the problem at hand.

Our approach

Much of our research takes inspiration from economic logic and methodology to tackle managerially relevant questions. This means that our benchmark is often an economic explanation for a phenomenon, assuming that agents generally act to maximize their utility. We often adopt a data-driven approach to study our questions and use methods on the frontier of empirical research both to gather our data as well as to analyze it. Recent projects have used primary data gathered through scraping websites, telephone interviews or even laboratory experiments and have been complemented by secondary data from official and commercial data providers. In our econometric analyses, we put particular emphasis on the robust identification of effects and mechanisms, taking into account potential sources of endogeneity and ruling out alternative explanations through in-depth data analysis driven by theory. We also at times resort to theoretical models when formalizing the economic intuition of a phenomenon. These models are typically simple and stylized and have the explicit aim of illustrating an empirical phenomenon. That is, formal models are a complement to our empirical work and always inspired by empirical observations.

Research areas

Among the many possible research fields at the intersection of Strategy, Technology and Organization, work at ISTO currently revolves around three research areas:

  • Platform markets. This stream of research addresses some of the interesting phenomena arising when a platform enables the interaction of multiple independent sides. For example, a platform can enable consumers to purchase complementary goods, for example an app store listing apps that consumers that participate in the platform can purchase. Past and ongoing projects in this research area deal with competitive dynamics in the video game industry, the economics of app stores and social networks, and the recent emergence of sharing platforms such as Uber or upwork.com.
  • Dynamic competition. Firms frequently compete in the same and related markets over extended periods of time. Interestingly, firms often maintain their competitive advantage even if an existing technology becomes obsolete, suggesting that decisions and capabilities amassed earlier still have value in later stages of competition. Moreover, firms in the same market are different and tend to stay different even in the long run. This suggests that imitating market leaders is difficult and that market leaders may have strategic actions at their disposal that others do not, reinforcing heterogeneity even further. Ongoing research in this area deals with competition across technological generations, entry in the airline industry and learning from failure in multiproduct firms.
  • Boundaries within and across firms. Organizations increasingly use project-based teams to produce and develop their output, most notably in research-intensive industries. Similarly, work often gets compartmentalized across organizations so that outputs can be exchanged. While the evolution of cross-firm boundaries has long been a mainstay in research on Strategy and Organization, the internal organization of such teams has recently moved to the forefront of Strategy research since teams as an output-generating entity are increasing in economic importance. Current projects in this research area study mergers and acquisitions in the global telecommunications industry, the design of strategic alliances, the autonomy of research workers in teams, and the structure of teams facing drastic technological changes.

Scientific output

  • Conference presentations. First, our work is presented at many national and international conferences and workshops, and doctoral students start attending workshops and conferences from early on in their research career. Papers produced at ISTO are presented regularly at top conferences in management and industrial economics, including the Academy of Management Annual Meeting, the Strategic Management Society Annual Meeting, DRUID, the Royal Economic Society Annual Meeting, EARIE, IIOC, NBER Summer Institute, Searle Workshop for the Internet Economy, and many others.
  • Journal publications. To partake in the international scientific dialogue, researchers at ISTO aim to publish in the premier journals in management and applied economics and use state-of-the-art scientific approaches. Members of ISTO have published, among others, in Management Science*, Academy of Management Journal*, Strategic Management Journal, Organization Science, Information Systems Research*, American Economic Review, Journal of Economics and Management Strategy*, Research Policy*, Economic Journal, and the International Journal of Industrial Organization* (An asterisk * denotes journals in which current or former ISTO PhD students have published).
  • Akademic placements. ISTO prides itself in providing an inspiring environment for PhD students and junior academics. In addition to the published articles and dissertations, the success of junior scholars on the academic job market is a key goal in ISTO’s research strategy. Since its inception in 2006, ISTO alumni (PhD students and PostDocs) have taken jobs at Copenhagen Business School, Imperial College, Bocconi University, Bath University Business School, Leeds University Business School, University of Zurich, Technical University of Cyprus, University of Cologne and University of Augsburg. ISTO PhD students and junior academics regularly participate in the LMU Munich School of Management’s International Job Market Program.

Scientific Community

We actively connect with the scientific community by (co-)organizing seminars and conferences relating to our core research areas Strategy, Technology and Organization.

  • Seminars. ISTO has a strong tradition of running successful seminar series. We have managed to attract both eminent experienced as well as promising younger scholars to Munich to present their work and exchange ideas, with many of these visits having led to successful collaborations. We are co-organizers of the ORG Seminar [LINK], jointly with the Chair of Organizational Economics and the Institute for Human Capital Management as well as actively involved in the Munich Innovation Seminar [LINK]. In addition to inviting international scholars to our seminar series, we also participate in the TIME Colloquium (LINK), which promotes academic exchange with the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition and the Chair in Technology and Innovation Management at the Technical University of Munich.
  • Conferences. We believe that focused workshops and conferences are an important tool to foster international exchange and collaboration. We currently focus our efforts on co-organizing the Munich Summer Institute [LINK], a collaborative effort together with the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and Competition and the Center of Law & Economics at ETH Zurich. We aim to bring together the leading scholars in the broader field of innovation for a three-day focused conference.

    Prior conferences:

    • Munich Summer Institute (June 2016)
    • EARIE (August 2015)
    • IIIrd ICT Conference Munich (October 2013)
    • IInd ICT Conference Munich (February/March 2012)
    • Ist ICT Conference Munich (November 2010)