The emergency of behavioral studies in strategy

Simone Cesar Silva Vicente, Diego Nogueira Rafael, Fernando Antonio Ribeiro Serra


Study objective: This study aims to identify the emergence of new studies in the field of strategy, considering 12 years of publications in the Strategic Management Journal.

Methodology / approach: In the Web of Science database, we searched the journal “Strategic Management Journal”, in two periods, 2007 to 2012 and 2013 to 2018. We exclusively selected articles related to “Business” and “Management”. This search generated 1,100 articles for our database, with 376 articles from the first period and 724 articles from the second period. We use matching techniques in the analyses performed using Bibexcel and SPSS. At the same time, in Ucinet, we created the network diagram which supports the relationships between the identified factors and confirmatory analysis of the findings.

Originality / Relevance: Bibliometric studies are constantly seeking to analyze how the theoretical structure of theories is progressing, and in strategy, it has not been different. To verify how studies in strategy have evolved in theoretical terms, given their multi-disciplinarity, a comparative study of two distinct but subsequent periods offers a global view of where the studies are heading. We discovered new theoretical fronts in essence to behavioral studies that emerged in previous studies and are strengthened in new research.

Main results: The search identified 57 articles and six factors from 2007 to 2012 and 2013 to 2018 produced 22 articles and five factors. The results confirmed the evolution of studies in behavioral theories, especially regarding managers and their strategies as well as other findings, such as research related to environmental dynamics and competitive dynamics. We still have strong participation of studies with resource-based theory, transaction costs, and the emergence of new theories such as tournaments and behavioral strategy.

Theoretical / methodological contributions: Bibliometric searches can be examples of how to analyze references. In this sense, this study helps researchers have a parameter in similar studies, with pairing analysis and the combination of analysis of two subsequent periods. On the theoretical side, the findings give strength to previous research, validating established theories and showing emerging theories.

Social / management contributions: This research obtained results that confirm the multi-disciplinarity in strategy studies. Behavioral theories have emerged and strengthened in recent years. For management, we found that the surveys substantially analyze the strategic behavior of senior members in strategic decisions, such as in company acquisitions, in the formation of alliances, and how managers will perform when they are under contracts, differentiated remuneration, or in competition. For this reason, some theories emerged in the second period, such as tournament theory, not highlighted in previous bibliometric studies. Finally, a comparative summary of the factors found in the two periods helps managers in managerial perspectives on organizational strategies.


Strategy; Strategic management journal; Bibliometric; Behavioral studies.


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