Counter-Clock World: How Planning Backwards Helps in Moving Forward in Collapsing Environments

  • Christian Stutz Jyväskylä School of Business and Economics, University of Jyvaskyla, Jyvaskyla, Finland; and School of Business and Governance, Tallinn University of Technology TalTech, Tallinn, Estonia
  • Antti Ainamo Jyväskylä School of Business and Economics, University of Jyvaskyla, Jyvaskyla, Finland; and School of Business and Governance, Tallinn University of Technology TalTech, Tallinn, Estonia
  • Juha-Antti Lamberg Jyväskylä School of Business and Economics, University of Jyvaskyla, Jyvaskyla, Finland; and School of Business and Governance, Tallinn University of Technology TalTech, Tallinn, Estonia
Keywords: Science fiction, Organizational decline and collapse, Strategic renewal and corporate turnaround management, Uses of the past, Analogical reasoning, History, Temporality

Abstract

Research on corporate decline and turnarounds as well as the strategic use of history have so far remained two separate research fields. We integrate these two fields with a thought experiment, proposing ways in which strategists can work with, and through time in managing and turning around declines. Our thought experiment involves two very different types of analogies: a textual one from Philip K. Dick’s science fiction novels, on the one hand, and a visual one from Einsteinian relativity science, on the other hand. Inspired and informed by these different conceptualizations of the past and time, we develop four forms of backward strategizing to successfully manage a struggling corporation on the brink of environmental collapse. The strategic options, presuming that managers are historically conscious agents embedded in time, direct corporations to go back in history, in actual terms, or in a fictional or mythological one – and thus to initiate a past-related rebirth. By offering a more nuanced and complex understanding of temporality and history, our perspective urges scholars to further unpack historical dimensions in managerial cognition of time.

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Author Biographies

Christian Stutz, Jyväskylä School of Business and Economics, University of Jyvaskyla, Jyvaskyla, Finland; and School of Business and Governance, Tallinn University of Technology TalTech, Tallinn, Estonia

Christian Stutz is a postdoctoral researcher at Jyväskylä School of Business and Economics, University of Jyväskylä (Finland). He earned his Ph.D. in Economic History from the Department of History and Ethnology, University of Jyväskylä. Previously, he has been a lecturer in corporate social responsibility and research methods at the HWZ University of Applied Science in Business Administration in Zurich (Switzerland). In his research, he primarily mobilizes a historical lens to shed new light on the management of business companies. His work has appeared in the journals Business & Society, Business History, and Journal of Business Ethics, and in book volumes (Springer, Edward Elgar).

Antti Ainamo, Jyväskylä School of Business and Economics, University of Jyvaskyla, Jyvaskyla, Finland; and School of Business and Governance, Tallinn University of Technology TalTech, Tallinn, Estonia

Antti Ainamo is professor of international business at the dept. of business admin., Tallinn U. of Technology, Estonia, and adjunct professor at Aalto U, Finland, both at the school of business and that of arts, design, and architecture of the latter. Over the years, Antti has acted as professor or been visiting scholar, scientist-in-charge or research director at Swedish School of Textiles; Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University; Tongji University; Oxford University; Umeå USBE; Academy of Finland, Stanford University, and the universities of Aalto, Turku and Tampere. His publications include those in Organization Science, Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Human Relations, Journal of Media Psychology,, and Industry & Innovation.

Juha-Antti Lamberg, Jyväskylä School of Business and Economics, University of Jyvaskyla, Jyvaskyla, Finland; and School of Business and Governance, Tallinn University of Technology TalTech, Tallinn, Estonia

Juha-Antti Lamberg a is professor of strategy and economic history at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. His research interests include history of strategy, study of organizational collapses and industry decline, and competitive strategy with particular emphasis on the causal structure of related processes. He has published studies in the Academy of Management Review, Strategic Management Journal,  Business History, and in other leading journals. Professor Lamberg was awarded the Sloan Foundation’s Industry Studies Best Paper Prize in 2008, the Carolyn Dexter Award in 2009 at the Academy of Management Conference, and the Outstanding Article of the Year from Academy of Management Learning & Education in 2015, among other awards and recognitions.

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Published
2021-03-19
How to Cite
Stutz, C., Ainamo, A., & Lamberg, J.-A. (2021). Counter-Clock World: How Planning Backwards Helps in Moving Forward in Collapsing Environments. M@n@gement, 24(1), 45-18. https://doi.org/10.37725/mgmt.v24i1.4518
Section
Original Research Articles