International Business at TSE

Because the world is not flat.

Pasts, Presents and Futures of SD Logic

Research trajectories of Service-Dominant Logic: Emergent themes of a unifying paradigm in business and management, Industrial Marketing Management, 2017
Attila Pohlmann, Valtteri Kaartemo

Branding will become peripheral to Service-Dominant Logic by the early 2020s. Systems will be the driving theme in the same timeframe. These were some of the results emerging from our extensive mixed methods analysis of the SD Logic research trajectories.

By carrying out a bibliometric analysis we identified the main concepts of SD Logic based research and categorized the themes on the dimensions of centrality-density. The centrality refers to how pertinent the theme is considered to be in the literature, and the density highlights how often the theme appears. These insights from the past and present were then reflected against the results of a Delphi panel discussion of SD Logic experts to formulate informed assumptions about the future of the SD Logic.

The extensive bibliometric analysis revealed four motor themes so far shaping the SD Logic approach: value co-creation, brands, resources (incl. integration), and innovation. By enriching these findings with the expert insights, we ultimately propose and discuss ten emerging themes anticipated to formulate the future of SD Logic approach: systems, value proposition, value co-creation, actors, service, resources, institutions, context, innovation and markets.

Our ambition in exploring the past, present and future research evolution of SD Logic was to advance its aspiration in potentially being the unifying paradigm about the true nature of economic exchange. Based on our learning, we expect the aforementioned thematic areas to be fruitful in bringing forth dynamic and versatile research across many disciplines.

Read the whole article here

Valtteri Kaartemo

As a scholar of International Business, what should I think of Trump?

International business is about connections. It’s a web of reverberations, of effects with more than one identifiable cause, of complex ripples flowing through the myriad interconnected threads binding this globe together. Trump is both a result of these ripples and a stone cast into the already turbulent pond.

It comes as no news that the most fundamental building block of the economic growth as we’ve known it, the middle class, is one of the threatened species in the contemporary economic ecosystem. The jobs of the middle class are becoming extinct at a rate competing with the disappearance of other threatened life forms in this planet. It’s not only the technological advances that drive out the old ways of doing, but also the profound social changes promoted and enabled by the tools now reaching out to touch our fingertips through the screen.

There is no way of unraveling the beginning points of the threads now forming the tangle of global socio-political unrest, climate issues and economic instability we find ourselves in. The middle class individual who was born into a world that made sense if you just worked hard, raised a family, and trusted institutions to look after you in times of trouble has been like a frog simmering in a kettle initially filled with cold water. Now the water is boiling, and the frog fights with his last breath to take the leap out of that kettle.

The disillusioned and struggling middle class of US saw Trump as the final catapult that might help them jump out of the water – or at least as someone who might turn off the heat to let the water become nicely lukewarm again. However, to me as a scholar of international business, it seems that the heat doesn’t come from a nice stove with an on/off switch, but from the whole house burning around the kettle.

Maybe Trump can help the frogs of middle class jump out of the kettle – but the result may be death by fire. The path to survival lies elsewhere.

Like we know from evolution, it’s not the fittest that survive, but the most adaptable. The frogs that will adapt to living in near boiling water will be left to tell the tale of a world where the water was still cold. Can Trump help the struggling middle class of the US to adapt to the permanently changed global realities? Can he ease the transition to wherever it is that we’re headed on this planet?

If the answer is no, I dare to take a peek into the crystal ball polished by history: the era of the US as the most dominant engine of global activities is coming to an end. Like so many empires of past, the failure to adapt to the changed circumstances leads to merciless implosion. But maybe this time around the history will rebel against repeating itself?

As a European, I could refuse to be scared, and to shrug this collapse of an overseas empire as something happening “out there”. But as a scholar of the intertwined threads, webs and tangles we call international business I cannot avoid the fear creeping in: we have our fair share of the frogs in each society, and we all reside in the same burning house we know as the planet Earth.

How do we put down the fire – or adapt to living in boiling water?

Milla Wirén

Doctoral Candidate

A confession of an addict.

I want to make a confession.

I have become an addict to philosophy. No, I am not trying to sound brainy, I’ve been around and really do not care about looking smart. And anyway, I already lost many of my old friends by shifting from a process-aware polished corporate woman to an opinionated and chaotic PhD student in my forties. If anything, I’d like to look (and be) happy. In fact, smart people these days may be doing anything else but a PhD. In Finland at least, this acronym has suffered a huge inflation in recent years and non-medical doctors of all sorts are considered as suspects by many. So why should there be academics?

We teach, we conduct research, we (hopefully) publish studies, revise other people’s work, conduct a mind-blowing amount of administrative work, spend days (and nights) fine-tuning applications for funds or reporting on our work and contribute to our communities. Many people from my non-academic entourage at least are surprised by the wide range of work we do. And contrary to urban legends, I do not know anyone taking three month vacations, calculating their true hourly salary (it might tend close to low single digits for many), and ‘taking a sabbatical’ means going to some other university to do more work, just in a different poorly ventilated cubicle. Most of us have made this choice for passion.

Other than becoming better at doing what we do and communicating what our work is all about (hopefully avoiding some of that terrible gibberish many scientific articles are written in), I suggest we also become better at philosophy, take philosophy to the streets, so to speak. Here is why.

Cursory reading of popular business publications reveal that qualities such as a curious mind, critical thinking, courage, suspending judgement, capability to follow instincts, articulate speaking, effective writing, capability to work in chaos, situational understanding, sometimes be able to follow and sometimes lead, etc., are some of essential skills needed in many today’s work environments. So knowledge such as making your books balance, the concepts of ROI and cash flow, ten-steps-to-close-a-sale or knowing what it means to show the soles of your shoes in some Arab countries are things you learn in a business school or elsewhere, and might even remember, but they do not quite cut it once out in the wild.

Philosophy is an effective way to cultivate a curious mind and train critical thinking skills. Do you see life as a constant flow, a river in constant movement like in an impressionist painting with flickering light beams and blurry shapes – or as a sharp picture where you can observe light and shades, fixed objects in a given context that opens in front of you, ready to be dissected? I used to see a picture, then a river, now I can use both lenses and examine ‘the world’ from different angles. And with that slowly increasing knowledge, I’ve started to find timid, budding answers to such questions I used to have in business as, ‘Why is teamwork in multicultural and geographically distributed contexts to difficult?’ I also now smile when reading gloomy articles in places like Financial Times anticipating some global bust just because China’s economic growth rate has dropped below two digits. Whose story is this and are there alternative narratives?

It is important we develop an intimate understanding of our place in the world and of the world itself so we can make more informed choices for our own action, teaching, writing and involvement in our communities. I suggest we make philosophy a living practice, not a department across the street or an isolated course with an identification number too complicated to remember. And, there is that ‘Ph’ in the PhD… ‘Plato’s cave’, ‘Sartre’s condemned to be free’ and ‘Aristotle’s rhetorics’ is where I started to, (yes!), google.

Katja Einola
Doctoral Candidate

From Freshman to Faculty

I first walked through the doors of TSE in late August, 2011. Being accepted into the Global Innovation Management master’s programme felt like winning the lottery (or at least I assume so – I’ll let you know when I win the lottery). I was super nervous, starting a new school. Thank goodness I already had someone to sit next to in orientation! That was a major consolation not only on those first days but also throughout my studies. The people are without a doubt the best thing about studying international business at TSE.

The GIM-programme, belonging to the international business discipline, is unlike any other educational environment. Through conversations and even some lively debates a more meaningful learning experience is created. Yes, it still has a lot to do with books, but what you make of those books need not be boring. Finally grasping the full power of the case study, or finally seeing how this theory clicks with that theory, is a real high. This is made possible by a faculty that treats students like equals, that encourages knowledge and ability creation rather than learning books by heart, that is always open to ideas, and that never once got tired of explaining the same thing twice (or thrice).

Students – as well as teachers – in the GIM programme come from all over the world. This is a real chance of “internationalisation at home”. Creating an understanding of the multicultural world and developing working skills to cope with difficult situations is a concrete and significant benefit of the programme. This is an experience one is truly thankful for. Through such an environment, one begins to understand not only the world but oneself better. It is gruesome, time-consuming, and difficult, but absolutely worth it. It might even get you that dream job in the end.

I finished my GIM-studies in early 2014 and stayed on as a research assistant at the department of marketing and international business. There I got to know the other side of things; how committed the IB faculty is to their work, and how much more they actually have to offer than I had ever realised during courses. I applied for a doctoral candidate position and was accepted. I started in early 2015 and hope to defend my thesis by the end of 2018. After that – who knows? All I can say for certain is that I have never once regretted coming here. This is where dreams are built.

Riikka Harikkala-Laihinen
Doctoral Candidate

Hello world!

This blog was born out of a need and a revelation. First we stumbled upon a need: it seems that just like the international and global world we study, also what we actually do in the TSE International Business is diverse. Well, that is of course good, we think, however trying to communicate our activities to other people isn’t quite as simple as it would be, if we were involved in studying something more specific – say the left legs of a spider.

So we started thinking, how about we launch a blog, where we try to unveil the many interests and passions of the people here. That way we would have a nice place, to which we could point the curious.

The revelation part emerged from meeting IB scholars from around the world. While we are very active members in the international networks of International Business, we seem to have our own strengths and perspectives, as surely any scholarly unit in any university is prone to have. However, we’re quite proud of our way of looking at and seeing things – not only looking at the variables and quantifiable measurements, but also seeing the processes and the value in trying to uncover the meaning beneath the numbers.

So, we decided to give blogging a shot. To enlighten ourselves about what the person next door is doing (you know how long the distance between neighbouring cubicles can be, right?), and to give you a glimpse of what goes on inside the very different heads our IB consists of.

I should probably end this with the customary litany of how all the opinions expressed here are the individual viewpoints of the people contributing to writing this blog, however I’m sure that as an experienced blog reader in this contemporary world you surely already know that. So instead I’ll just say, welcome to the blog of International Business at TSE!

Milla Wirén
Doctoral Candidate