Call For Proposal

You can read the most salient portions of the call for proposals below.

To see the complete version, please download the PDF document to the right.

CK Prahalad: Reaching Over Boundaries and Expanding Possibilities

The Strategic Management Society (SMS) is pleased to announce a special conference to honor, reflect on, and extend CK Prahalad’s contribution to the scholarly and practice dimensions of strategic management. This conference will bring together scholars, executives, and consultants who have researched or applied CK Prahalad’s ideas.

CK’s academic career was stellar from an academic point of view but, interestingly, his work had an even greater impact on practicing managers. This is very unusual for an academic; his work changed the business world and improved peoples’ lives. We will celebrate and extend his contribution in a number of areas, as well as focus on three areas where CK made significant contributions. First, we will focus on his work in international business: the creation of the multinational firm paradigm focused on global integration and local responsiveness. We will not only review this work, but discuss how it can be extended in the future. Similarly, his work on competing for the future and core competence will be explored as well. His work focused on social entrepreneurship–The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty through Profit–has also had a significant influence on work in entrepreneurship and alleviating poverty. The Economist noted that this work brought together ‘corporate titans who were ignoring the bulk of humanity and humanitarians who regarded profit as a dirty word.’

Not only will we celebrate these various themes, but also extend them not only academically, but also, following CK’s lead, in fostering improved managerial practice. We hope to explore many of these themes in the conference call for proposals outlined on the following pages.

This conference invites contributions that represent original, interesting, and theoretically bold research that draws from or extends CK’s many ideas. We also welcome proposals from consultants and business people that contribute to CK’s work, as well. There are numerous potential questions that can be addressed. We have grouped such questions into three broad areas. Please note that the questions below are meant to be suggestive, not comprehensive. Should your work address an issue that relates to CK Prahalad’s work in a different way–one that is not included below–it will gladly be considered.

Concepts relating to core competence and competing for the future

The idea of core competency fundamentally shifts our focus from viewing a firm as a collection of products to a capability-driven paradigm. Core competence is the collective learning in organizations, especially the capacity to coordinate a diverse portfolio of skills and integrate streams of technologies. It also requires working across organizational boundaries. Further, focusing on current opportunities can shut down future opportunities, so the issue of being able to learn and morph along with changes in the competitive environment is critical. Companies need, not a strategic plan, but rather a strategic architecture for envisioning the competencies necessary for future success (concept descriptions are drawn from CK’s work).

Academic topics might include:
Corporate goals, strategic renewal, competitive advantage, strategic innovation, resource management, reasons and benefits of diversification, organizational structure, alliances.

Practitioner topics might include:
How have companies identified their core competences? How fast can managers shift to view their firms as portfolios of competences? How do managers plan for a future that contains events such as the economic crisis? What structure do organizations adopt to identify discontinuities, determine their impact on markets of today and tomorrow, and then develop new business models?

Concepts relating to managing the ‘modern’ multinational enterprise

Each business in a diversified multinational company faces integration-responsiveness trade-offs, largely due to differences between home and host country demands. With a shift in the center of gravity to emerging markets, this tension assumes more complex forms. Traditional multinationals face challenges from potentially disruptive business models and for emerging multinationals, learning from the east assumes importance. Much of CK’s later work emphasized such changes, as well as how the end of ‘corporate imperialism’ is likely to bring in new dimensions to managing the multinational enterprise.

Academic topics might include:
Emerging multinationals, internal governance, management controls, organizational structure, social and HR challenges of being a multinational company, the role and significance of host country demands and intervention, the impact of different rates of change in different industries and countries, reverse innovation.

Practitioner topics might include:
What key variables do companies use to identify when to manage globally vs. locally? When do companies prefer more vs. less control over diversified business units? How do geographic business units relate to a company that is organized into a portfolio of competences? What can traditional multinationals learn from emerging multinationals?

Concepts relating to the base of the pyramid

There is an invisible market waiting at the base of the world economic pyramid–a market of five billion people who live on less than $2 a day. Business people think that the poor cannot afford their products and services and assume, naively, that the poor have no use for advanced and emerging technology. However, selling to the poor is a uniquely powerful way to achieve breakthroughs in products and management practices. Additionally, the base of the pyramid view also includes working with low-income producers and local entrepreneurs. It is about buying, selling, partnering, and co-creating.The bottom of the economic pyramid is a sandbox for innovation.

Academic topics might include:
Emerging markets/developing countries, marketing to the poor/value of this market, cost-quality-scale trade-offs, sustainability, corporate social responsibility, partnerships with NGOs, cross-sector partnerships, the design, implementation and sustainability/scalability stages of a venture's development, role and impact of humanitarian assistance.

Practitioner topics might include:
What are the costs vs. benefits of implementing selling to the base of the pyramid? What is the impact of the creation of these new enterprises and new markets? How well are these ventures actually alleviating poverty? How does the host country play a role? What is the role of marketing in this different model? How can organizations integrate doing good with making profits?

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