SMS

SMS Emerging Scholar Award

Inaugurated in 2007, the prize is awarded annually to a relatively young or new scholar, who displays exemplary scholarship that promises to have an impact on future strategic management practice.

Award Criteria and Details

Criteria for Selection: 

The criteria for this award recognizes a portfolio of work that suggests the candidate will make fundamental contributions to the way we think about knowledge essential to achieving durable organizational success. Especially considered are contributions that complement existing strategic management theory with ideas from the arts and sciences. Eligible to be nominated are members of the SMS. The likely winner of the award will:

  • be within 5-8 years of active academic work from the date of his/her dissertation
  • have a record of publication and professional activity that has demonstrated their work to be significant and with impact

Award Details: 

The recipient of the SMS Emerging Scholar Award will be recognized at an appropriate, significant event at the SMS Annual Conference and receives prize money of US$ 5,000. In addition, the recipient is invited to present their research in a prominent setting at the SMS Annual Conference and will be recognized and featured in one of the SMS journals.

Nomination Details: 

To nominate an individual, please provide the following: 

  • a letter of nomination by another SMS member, who is not a faculty member at the same university as the nominated individual
  • two additional letters of recommendation
  • a full vita from the nominated individual

*Nominations are accepted throughout the year. The deadline for this award is March 31st of each year. To submit a nomination, please email the materials to the SMS Executive Office at sms@strategicmanagement.net.

Oliver Schilke, 2019 Emerging Scholar Award Recipient

Oliver Schilke, an Assistant Professor of Management and Organizations at the Eller College of Management, University of Arizona, is the recipient of the 2019 Emerging Scholar Award of the Strategic Management Society.

Oliver completed his Ph.D. in Sociology at UCLA in 2014 and has already published more than 50 articles and book chapters on management and strategy-related topics. His research centers on dynamic capabilities, interorganizational trust, and institutional theory. Oliver’s body of research seeks to understand how institutionalized, taken-for-granted processes can shape strategic decision-making and ultimately organizational performance. For instance, addressing a fundamental debate in the strategy literature, his work demonstrates that the impact of dynamic capabilities depends in a nonlinear fashion on the extent of dynamism in the external environment. In another study, he reveals that trustworthiness in alliances can be explained by both contractual safeguards and organizational culture, yet under different conditions. His research also uncovers the role of organizational identity in explaining why some organizations are more susceptible to institutional pressures than others, offering a novel yet convincing argument.

Oliver has published 13 articles in top-tier outlets, most of which as first or single author. His research has already received more than 4,500 citations. His strong pipeline demonstrates continued productivity in the years to come. He studies a range of topics that clearly matter to strategy scholars and managers. He effectively connects disparate literature and leverages different methods, revealing extraordinarily productivity and substantial impact and placing him in the forefront of research on the microfoundations of strategy.

Oliver will be presented with this award at the Awards Luncheon, Tuesday afternoon at the SMS Annual Conference in Minneapolis. As a recipient of the award, he will also be organizing a session on Tuesday at the conference!

We have also conducted a short interview with Oliver, as this year's recipient. Click below to see his answers.

After graduating from business school, I was sure I wanted to pursue a career in either strategy consulting or investment banking. I had completed several internships in these fields and enjoyed the work. However, my plans changed when I became exposed to academic research. What ultimately convinced me to go “all in” and commit to a career in academia was the academic freedom that university faculty enjoy, including the ability to choose (within limits) what to work on and even when to conduct this work. How awesome is that?

I increasingly became interested in organizational phenomena that are highly institutionalized. By this, I mean processes that are taken-for-granted, are executed quasi-automatically, and often operate outside actors’ immediate awareness. Much of my reading led me to the work by (later PhD advisor) Lynne Zucker, which is why I decided to apply for the sociology program at UCLA—one of my best decisions ever.

Several of my initial research projects started out with my interest in strategic alliances that I came to witness during my work as a management consultant. How can firms successfully work together while still pursuing their autonomous goals? With this broad question in mind, I conducted a series of qualitative interviews with managers involved in alliances. Two things struck with me. First, alliances don’t exist in isolation; rather, organizations develop alliance routines that allow them to manage their portfolio of alliances and that stay with them even as individual alliances may come to an end. The notion of “alliance management capability,” thought of as a type of dynamic capability that allows firms to augment their own resource

base with that of their alliance partners, came to motivate much of my subsequent research. Second, the managers I interviewed insisted on the importance of trust in shaping alliance dynamics. Thus, I became curious how such trust develops between partners. In particular, I explored the processes through which trust can evolve from an interpersonal property largely restricted to the specific alliance managers involved to an interorganizational phenomenon ingrained in the fabric of institutionalized organizational action. In short, many of my research topics were initially motivated by my prior professional experience or by talking to managers and then further elaborated using strategy and sociological theory.

It is certainly not easy to evaluate one’s own “key contribution,” but I think what some strategy scholars might know me best for is my work on dynamic capabilities. This research tries to identify relevant types of routines and other processes that aid organizations in modifying their resource base. Arguably, these capabilities may help firms to achieve competitive advantage under conditions of environmental change, but the relationship between the performance impact of dynamic capabilities and the environment’s degree of dynamism was left somewhat ambiguous in initial theoretical accounts. And this is the issue that I aimed to address in my 2014 Strategic Management Journal article. This article proposes a somewhat non-intuitive, inverse U-shaped moderation pattern, implying that the effect of dynamic capabilities on competitive advantage is strongest under intermediate levels of dynamism but comparatively weaker when dynamism is low or high. My hope is that this article, along with a few others that followed, add greater clarity to the dynamic capabilities construct and its implications for organizational outcomes.

In my experience, both sociology and management journals essentially look for the same things—innovation and rigor—, which is why I believe the publication process is not incredibly different. If there is one thing that flagship sociology journals such as ASR may emphasize more, it is broader reach—that is, the ability of an article to speak to audiences in other subfields. Operationally, this means it’s not a bad idea to devote part of the Introduction and/or Discussion to elaborating why scholars outside the paper’s particular niche should care. I actually find this exercise to be quite helpful; it encourages me to approach the research problem from multiple angles and possibly bring in literatures that I might have neglected otherwise.

I look forward to continuing to advance my research program on organizational capabilities, trust, and legitimacy. In developing my research further, I strive to help bridge the "micro–macro" divide by showing how key phenomena—such as capabilities, trust, and legitimacy—can be fruitfully studied at both the individual and organizational levels and how these levels are inherently interrelated. To name just two examples, one of my ongoing research projects looks at the role of top managers’ social capital (i.e., network relationships) in supporting the development of organizational capabilities, arguing that these managers’ social capital can help to counteract some of the detrimental effects of routinization (such as inertia). Another working paper studies how social events can fundamentally shape the types of routines that emerge between collaborating organizations. Building on interaction ritual theory, we argue that participation in bonding vs. tournament rituals (in the form of informal vs. highly structured events) can affect trust building trajectories and set distinct exchange expectations, which in turn shape interorganizational collaboration routines.

As you can see from my answer to the previous question, I’m a big believer in the burgeoning micro-foundations movement in strategy. More and more scholars are delving into the processes underlying organizational strategy and success, enriching strategy scholarship with pertinent theoretical mechanisms and bringing in individuals and teams as key units of analysis. Much remains to be done, as we are only beginning to leverage relevant theories and methods that can help us better understand what has previously been merely assumed or black-boxed altogether.

Everybody’s career evolves differently and is based on a great number of success factors. Here, I’ll focus on two things that I personally found to matter a lot. First, the immediate social context is extremely critical—meaning the ability to work with other scholars who inspire you and whom you can learn from. Academic research is a team sport, so finding the “right” teammates is immensely important. I have been fortunate enough to consistently hit the jackpot with my advisors and coauthors, without whom my record would look very differently. Second, persistence clearly pays off in our line of work. Had I discontinued those research projects that received devastating feedback along the way, the publications section of my CV would be pretty much empty. I think you have to be somewhat overconfident that your research idea has merit (even if some journal reviewers might disagree), and a certain degree of escalation of commitment for projects that appear to be doomed can actually be quite beneficial in the long run.