Erkenntnis 73 (3):365-383 (2010)

Jack Vromen
Erasmus University Rotterdam
In a series of joint papers, Teppo Felin and Nicolai J. Foss recently launched a microfoundations project in the field of strategic management. Felin and Foss observe that extant explanations in strategic management are predominantly collectivist or macro. Routines and organizational capabilities, which are supposed to be properties of firms, loom large in the field of strategic management. Routines figure as explanantia in explanations of firm behavior and firm performance, for example. Felin and Foss plead for a replacement of such macro-explanations by micro-explanations. Such a replacement is needed, Felin and Foss argue, because macro-explanations are necessarily incomplete: they miss out on crucial links in the causal chain that connect macro phenomena with each other. I argue that this argument is flawed. It is based on a doubtful if not outright incorrect understanding and use of Coleman’s diagram. In a sense to be explained below, only if Coleman’s diagram is squared it can accurately account for the relations between individual action and interaction, routines and firm behavior and firm performance. Once Coleman’s diagram is squared, one can see why and how macro-explanations need not miss out on any link in the causal chains that connect macro phenomena. Micro-analyses are still needed, not to highlight and specify causal links that macro-explanations miss out on, but to check whether the many properties that are ascribed to routines in macro-explanations of firm behavior are warranted.
Keywords Philosophy   Logic   Ethics   Ontology   Epistemology   Philosophy
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Reprint years 2010
DOI 10.1007/s10670-010-9237-z
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References found in this work BETA

Thinking About Mechanisms.Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
Top-Down Causation Without Top-Down Causes.Carl F. Craver & William Bechtel - 2007 - Biology and Philosophy 22 (4):547-563.

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