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CV Thorbjørn Knudsen 

Name: Thorbjørn Knudsen
Present position: Professor, Strategic Organization Design Unit (SOD)
Department of Marketing and Management, University of Southern Denmark
SOD-url: http://www.sod-research.com/


Chair, Social Sciences, Danish Institute for Advanced Study (DIAS)
University of Southern Denmark,
DIAS-url: http://dias.sdu.dk/

Education
• University of Southern Denmark, Diploma in Economics, 1/7/1994.
• University of Southern Denmark, PhD, Business Economics, 2/8/1999.

Current and most recent positions held

• 2016 – Chair, Social Sciences, Danish Institute for Advanced Study (DIAS), University of Southern Denmark

• 2005 – Research leader, Strategic Organization Design Unit (SOD), University of Southern Denmark

• 2005 – Professor, Strategic Organization Design, University of Southern Denmark

• 2010 – 2018 Co-Director Danish Institute for Advanced Study (DIAS), University of Southern Denmark

• 2004 – 2005 Professor, Marketing Strategy, University of Southern Denmark 

• 2001 – 2004 Associate Professor, University of Southern Denmark

Academic awards and honors

• Knight at the Order of Dannebrog, R.  
• Chairman of Hans Christian Andersen Academy, University of Southern Denmark (http://www.sdu.dk/en/Om_SDU/Aarets_gang/HCA+Academy).
• Tietgenprisen 2003.
• Statoil Research Award 2001.
• Den Fynske Fond for Erhvervsøkonomisk Forsknings Forskerpris i 1999.
• Kraks Blå Bog


Teaching

• MBA, EMBA and Master of Science in Strategy and Organization Theory, Statistics.
• PhD-courses on strategy and organization.
• Supervision of over 50 master theses.

Management Experience and Scientific Research Leadership
In 2005, I was employed as professor and Research Leader of the Strategic Organization Design Unit (SOD) at the University of Southern Denmark. Since 2005, I have used my international network to build a dynamic research environment that has attracted a number of young international researchers. Today, the SOD unit includes 14 employees of which six are international scholars with PhD’s from institutions such as London Business School, Stanford University, University of Cambridge, University of Michigan. (See http://www.sod-research.com/). The SOD unit has a very lively international seminar program and has been a host to numerous international PhDs, some of which have based the bulk of their thesis on results obtained in collaboration with researchers in my unit. SOD is now recognized as a leading international environment for research in organization design.

Management Experience Related to Funded Research (total approximately 3,750,000 Euros):
• 2014 –2019 PI and Sapere Aude Advanced Grant (Topforsker) awarded by The Danish Council for Independent Research, Social Sciences (FSE). 1,400,000 Euros.
• 2013 PI for ERC Advanced grant, made it through to the 2nd evaluation round.
• 2009 –2013 PI for First Danish International Elite research unit awarded by The Danish Council for Independent Research, Social Sciences (FSE).
The Danish Council for Independent Research, Social Sciences (FSE). 1,075,000 Euros.
• 2011–2014 PI for Elite Research Unit in Strategic Organizational Design. Faculty of Social Sciences,
University of Southern Denmark. 672,000 Euros.
• 2011–2013 RISK. Partner in the consortium “Risk Management in Extended Enterprises”.
Partners include three small and three large (Alfa Laval, Lego, Nordea) Danish firms, the Danish Technological Institute, and researchers from the Copenhagen Business School (CBS) and Danish Agency for Science Technology and Innovation.
81,000 Euros. For Work-Package on relation organization and strategic risk.
• 2005–2008 Co-applicant (with Nicolai Juul Foss and Torben Pedersen, CBS) in “Foundations of
Knowledge Sharing: Behaviors and Governance”.The Danish Council for Independent Research, Social Sciences (FSE). 470,000 Euros.
• 2003-2006: Partner in “Emergence and Growth of Firms in Information Intensive and International
Environments.” (PI: prof. Tage Koed Madsen, SDU). The Danish Council for Independent Research, Social Sciences (FSE). 242,000 Euros.
• 2000-2003: Participant in “Emergence and Growth of Firms in Information Intensive and International
Environments.” (PI: prof. Tage Koed Madsen, SDU). The Danish Council for Independent Research, Social Sciences (FSE). 403,000 Euros.
• 2000-2003: Participant in "Learning, Incentives, and Knowledge" (PI: prof. Nicolai Foss, CBS), The
Danish Council for Independent Research, Social Sciences (FSE). 806,000 Euros.

Scientific Qualifications and Professional activities:
• Senior Editor Organization Science. (ISI impact factor 4.34).
• Editorial Review Board of Strategic Management Journal. (ISI impact factor 3.78).
• Editorial Review Board of Academy of Management Journal. (ISI impact factor 5.61).
• Associate of Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS). (ISI impact factor 25.06).
• Associate Editor, The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Strategic Management. (http://www.palgrave.com/strategicmanagement/home.aspx)
• Trustee for the Journal of Institutional Economics (JOIE), Cambridge University Press.
• Reviewer for Research Councils, including the European Research Council (ERC), the Dutch Social Science Research Council (MAGW) and the Dutch Council for the Earth and Life Sciences (ALW).
• Regular reviewing for the field’s top journal: Organization Science, Management Science, Strategic Management Journal, Academy of Management Journal, and Administrative Science Quarterly. On a more infrequent basis reviewing for leading journals in economics, sociology, and probability theory.

Scientific focus areas
Economic evolution. Organizational adaptation. Organization design.

International relations and research collaboration
• I have a large active international network and ongoing collaborative interactions with academic research groups at INSEAD Singapore, London Business School, LMU-Munich, University of Venice, University of Warwick, the Wharton School and elsewhere. Out of my 60+ total of peer-reviewed publications in international journals, I have co-authored more than 25 publications together with more than 15 different external collaborators, including leading scholars such as Howard E. Aldrich, Geoffrey M. Hodgson, Daniel A. Levinthal, James G. March, Phanish Puranam, and Sidney G. Winter.
• Invited lectures or seminars at many international institutions including Cornell University, London Business School, Max Planck Institute for Mathematics, Stanford University, and the Wharton School.
• I have hired a number of researchers from leading international academic institutions that are part of my network. Examples include Markus C, Becker from CNRS, Daniel Newark from Stanford University, Sangyoon Yi from Stephen M. Ross School of Management, University of Michigan, Stephan Billinger, Kannan Srikanth and Murali Swamy from London Business School.
• Visiting professor at Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Santa Fe Institute, Stanford University, and the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.
• Co-founder – with prof. Jerker Denrell, University of Warwick – of the TOM society for mathematical models in organizations science. This society promotes research and knowledge dissemination relating to the use of mathematical models in strategy, management, and organization science. Yearly meetings at Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, include most leading scholars in the field.
• From 2012, invited member of Strategy Research Initiative (SRI) (http://strategyresearch.net/)

Supervision of PhD students and Postdocs
• I have supervised PhD-courses on strategy and organization.
• In 2013 and 2014, invited faculty member for the “Emerging Scholars Workshop: Evolutionary Perspectives on Strategic Management” organized by Dan Levinthal and the Mack Center, the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.
• Supervisor or co-supervisor of 10 PhD theses.

Conference Organization
Co-organizer of numerous international conferences, workshops and seminars, including the Twelfth Organization Science Winter Conference, February 2006. Organizer of 5 international conferences sponsored by the Danish Social Sciences Research Council. Member and co-founder of the TOM (Theoretical Organization Models) society and the Organizational Design Community (ODC). Both TOM and ODC organizes a yearly workshop for the leaders in the respective fields. Member of governing board for DRUID (http://druid8.sit.aau.dk/druid/registrant/index/login/cid/15)


Invited Lectures
Invited lecturer or seminar presenter at many institutions including Copenhagen Business School, Cornell University, London Business School, IMD, Max Planck Institute for Mathematics, Stanford University, The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (School of Architecture), and the Wharton School. Visiting professor Santa Fe Institute, University of Venice, Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Publication summary
Thorbjørn Knudsen's current accepted and published works are 60+ publications in peer-reviewed international journals, 2 research monographs, and 13 book chapters. For articles in peer-reviewed international journals, his current H-index is 38.


PUBLICATIONS

SELECTED WORKS

  1. Christensen, M., Knudsen, T., Nash, U.W., & Stieglitz, N. (2020). Industry competition and firm conduct: Joint determinants of risk–return relations, Strategic Management Journal (forthcoming).
  2. Christensen, M. & Knudsen, T. (2020). Division of roles and endogenous specialization. Industrial and Corporate Change, 29, 105-124.
  3. Knudsen, T., Marchiori, D. & Warglien, M. (2018). Hierarchical decision-making produces persistent differences in learning performance, Scientific Reports, Nature, 8(1): 15782.
  4. Knudsen, T., Levinthal, D. A. & Winter, S. G. (2017). Systematic Differences and Random Rates: Reconciling Gibrat’s Law with Firm Differences. Strategy Science, 2(2): 111-120
  5. Yi, S., Becker, M.C. & Knudsen, T. (2016). Inertia in Routines: A Hidden Source of Organizational Variation, Organization Science, 27(3): 782–800.
  6. Stieglitz, N., Knudsen, T. & Becker, M. C. (2016). Adaptation and inertia in dynamic environments. Strategic Management Journal, 37(9): 1854-1864.
  7. Knudsen, T. & Srikanth, K. (2014). Coordinated Exploration: Organizing Joint Search by Multiple Specialists to Overcome Mutual Confusion and Joint Myopia, Administrative Science Quarterly, 59(3): 409-441.
  8. Knudsen, T., Levinthal, D. A. & Winter, S. G. (2014), Hidden but in Plain Sight: The Role of Scale Adjustment in Industry Dynamics, Strategic Management Journal, 35(11): 1569-1584.
  9. Puranam, P., Raveendran, M. & Knudsen, T. (2012), Organization design: The epistemic interdependence perspective, Academy of Management Review, 37(3): 419-440.
  10. Christensen, M. & Knudsen, T. (2010), Design of Decision Making Organizations, Management Science, 56(1): 71-89.
  11. Knudsen, Thorbjørn (2010) with Geoffrey M. Hodgson: Darwin’s Conjecture: The Search for General Principles of Social and Economic Evolution. Chicago: Chicago University Press. 

 

Research areas

• Strategic Organization

• Decision making in organizations

• Economic evolution

 

Strategic Organization Design: Research Agenda

Three topics provide the rough contours of the relevant map for our research:

1) Strategic design of organizations, including mathematical modeling of organizations
2) Strategic organization of search, learning and innovation
3) Strategic organization of business processes, value chains and networks

These three topics offer a broad range of research opportunities. We define a focused agenda that addresses some, but obviously far from all of the possible research opportunities suggested by these three topics. Our research agenda is motivated by important and interesting unsolved research questions. We start from the observation that there is fairly little research about the relation between organization design and performance. Presently, our field has little knowledge about the way organization design can help firms profit from well structured interaction of employees. Our research aims to fill this gap in our knowledge by engaging in theoretical and empirical work that uncovers the relation between organization design and performance.
Our research is aimed at exploring how the structure of an organization – its incentive systems and coordination mechanisms – influences individual action and its aggregation into organizational performance. Individuals act, but we are most concerned with organizational outcomes. The purpose of organization is to influence the aggregation of individual decisions and actions into desirable behaviors at the collective level. The concept of aggregation is used here as a shorthand term for collective effects emerging from rather complex patterns of interaction and interplay among individual agents.
The organization of individual decisions and actions into desirable behaviors at the collective level is of critical importance in the present day. For example, the organization design of intelligence agencies affects the quality of country level intelligence assessments. This is because organization design determines the efficiency with which information gathered by individual agents is aggregated into a country level intelligence assessment. In much the same way, the gathering and spread of information about customers and competitors affects the way the business organization relates to its market. Organization design has a critical strategic dimension because it creates value from combining individual resources. Accordingly:

The purpose of our research is to understand how strategic organization design impacts organizational outcomes by influencing aggregation of individual behavior. 

While we have a fair understanding of individual behavior as well as organizational interactions with the institutional environment, we lack a theory of aggregation – how individual actions aggregate into organizational outcomes. Our unit aims to pursue a research program aimed at studying this gap in our understanding.
Our research aims to fill a lacuna in strategic management. The first theories in strategic management focused on positioning – how to pick markets and how to position the firm in markets in order to achieve competitive advantage. The second wave of theories (Resource Based View) emphasized the role of a firm’s resources to achieve competitive advantage: the firm’s role is to pick resources rather than market positions. The third wave of theories (Knowledge Based View/ Dynamic Capabilities View) suggests that the most important role of the firm is adaptation: its ability to leverage and reconfigure resources and market positions rather than to pick them. However, these theories are in general silent about how exactly adaptation capabilities are developed. In particular we see the following shortcomings. First, there are no clear behavioral foundations – how is individual adaptive behavior linked to firm level adaptation? Second, there are no clear dynamics – how do outcomes at the individual and collective levels feedback into further adaptation? Third, there is little formalization or empirical validation of the micro-foundations of adaptation or capability development.
We believe that understanding aggregation – the manner of cumulating individual efforts at search, learning and adaptation into organizational outcomes is the key to understand firm performance. The research undertaken by the unit shifts focus of scholarship from strategic action to strategic organization – i.e., moving from picking positions, resources etc., to enabling organizational learning and adaptation. The proposed contribution is to develop theories that help us fundamentally understand how organization design shapes aggregation and impacts organizational performance.

Research information

• Strategic organization
• Decision making in organizations
• Economic evolution

Strategic Organization Design: Research Agenda
Three topics provide the rough contours of the relevant map for our research:
1) Strategic design of organizations, including mathematical modeling of organizations
2) Strategic organization of search, learning and innovation
3) Strategic organization of business processes, value chains and networks

These three topics offer a broad range of research opportunities. We define a focused agenda that addresses some, but obviously far from all of the possible research opportunities suggested by these three topics. Our research agenda is motivated by important and interesting unsolved research questions. We start from the observation that there is fairly little research about the relation between organization design and performance. Presently, our field has little knowledge about the way organization design can help firms profit from well structured interaction of employees. Our research aims to fill this gap in our knowledge by engaging in theoretical and empirical work that uncovers the relation between organization design and performance.
Our research is aimed at exploring how the structure of an organization – its incentive systems and coordination mechanisms – influences individual action and its aggregation into organizational performance. Individuals act, but we are most concerned with organizational outcomes. The purpose of organization is to influence the aggregation of individual decisions and actions into desirable behaviors at the collective level. The concept of aggregation is used here as a shorthand term for collective effects emerging from rather complex patterns of interaction and interplay among individual agents.
The organization of individual decisions and actions into desirable behaviors at the collective level is of critical importance in the present day. For example, the organization design of intelligence agencies affects the quality of country level intelligence assessments. This is because organization design determines the efficiency with which information gathered by individual agents is aggregated into a country level intelligence assessment. In much the same way, the gathering and spread of information about customers and competitors affects the way the business organization relates to its market. Organization design has a critical strategic dimension because it creates value from combining individual resources. Accordingly:
The purpose of our research is to understand how strategic organization design impacts organizational outcomes by influencing aggregation of individual behavior.
While we have a fair understanding of individual behavior as well as organizational interactions with the institutional environment, we lack a theory of aggregation – how individual actions aggregate into organizational outcomes. Our unit aims to pursue a research program aimed at studying this gap in our understanding.
Our research aims to fill a lacuna in strategic management. The first theories in strategic management focused on positioning – how to pick markets and how to position the firm in markets in order to achieve competitive advantage. The second wave of theories (Resource Based View) emphasized the role of a firm’s resources to achieve competitive advantage: the firm’s role is to pick resources rather than market positions. The third wave of theories (Knowledge Based View/ Dynamic Capabilities View) suggests that the most important role of the firm is adaptation: its ability to leverage and reconfigure resources and market positions rather than to pick them. However, these theories are in general silent about how exactly adaptation capabilities are developed. In particular we see the following shortcomings. First, there are no clear behavioral foundations – how is individual adaptive behavior linked to firm level adaptation? Second, there are no clear dynamics – how do outcomes at the individual and collective levels feedback into further adaptation? Third, there is little formalization or empirical validation of the micro-foundations of adaptation or capability development.
We believe that understanding aggregation – the manner of cumulating individual efforts at search, learning and adaptation into organizational outcomes is the key to understand firm performance. The research undertaken by the unit shifts focus of scholarship from strategic action to strategic organization – i.e., moving from picking positions, resources etc., to enabling organizational learning and adaptation. The proposed contribution is to develop theories that help us fundamentally understand how organization design shapes aggregation and impacts organizational performance.

Research areas

  • Management and Organisation
  • Economics and Business

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