Strategy Research

We are a group of professors, associate professors, PhD students and PhD candidates who share interests in strategy-related research, especially in Strategy-as-Practice (SaP).

In addition to researching tasks at Hanken, we also assume academic responsibilities in international group. For example, in 2016-2017, we have researchers acting as convenors in Sub-theme 49 and 39 in European Group for Organizational Studies (EGOS 2017) in Copenhagen. Our researches are divergent in term of context. In particular, we have project proposals focusing on metropolitan growth through high-impact firms and public sector renewal and the strategification of cities.

Areas of interest include, but are not limited to

  • Discursive perspective on strategy work, critical perspective on identity, power and resistance, discourses and narratives approach
  • Innovation management, strategic resilience and renewal, emergent technologies and industrial innovation capabilities: open, distributed technologies and societal applications
  • Managing multinational corporations, mergers and acquisitions, gender and diversity, and branding and media; human resource management in a transnational context
  • Organizational change and leadership, coopetition as a strategic change from the sensemaking and strategy-as-practice approaches
  • Relationship of time and organizing in military context, middle management, embodied interaction and video methods
  • Intersections between games and organizations, strategy as practice, organizational temporality and institutional theory
  • Strategy's connection to future studies, value network strategies, public sector management, the importance of information practices to strategizing, and especially strategy as play

Faculty members doing Strategy research

Virpi Sorsa, Assistant professor

Virpi is holding the position of the Head of subject and an Assistant professor in the department of Management and organization at the Hanken School of Economics. Her research interests include discursive perspectives on cities’ strategy work, communicative constitution of interventions in organizations, and critical perspectives on identity. Virpi’s research has been published in journals such as Organization, Management Communication Quarterly, and Discourse & Communication. She is a member of Strategy work community in Helsinki ( and the Strategy as Practice international community ( She teaches the courses Organization theory, Forskningsmetoder, and Seminarium.

She is involved in following research projects:

‘Processes and practices of strategic change in city organizations’

Together with Eero Vaara

This study explores processes and practices of strategic change in city organizations, concentrating on the situational adaptation of the strategic management to fit organizational needs, and the effects that this adaptation has on cities’ renewal. This is important not only to be able to understand better the effects of strategic management as it is applied to public sector but also to develop new theoretical approaches, which recognize and explicitly deal with local adaptations and particular problems that city organizations face with strategic management.

‘Metropolitan growth through high-impact firms’

Together with Thommie Bjurström

This project proposes that local policy makers should focus more on understanding the behavior of high-impact firms. Such firms are often already established on the market, and they can be seen as the backbone of national economic growth and provide more job opportunities than other firms (Acs et al., 2008). Nevertheless, the knowledge about high-impact firms in Finland is scarce (Autio, 2009), and is often limited to descriptive statistics (e.g., Lahdelma & Laakso, 2015). Thus we need to understand better how local policymakers could improve the interface between such firms and city resources.

‘Strategiatyö suomalaisten kaupunkien uudistumisen edistäjänä’

Together with Liisa Välikangas

Nykyaika haastaa kaupunkiorganisaatiot kehittymään monella tavalla ja muuttamaan jäykkinä pidettyjä toimintatapojaan. Tämä näkyy uusien tehokkuuteen, palveluihin ja kansalaisvaikuttamiseen liittyvien vaatimusten nousuna, joka on nostanut kuntaorganisaatioiden kilpailun ja yhteistyön merkitystä. Tässä kilpailun ja yhteistyön verkostossa strategiatyö on muodostunut keskeiseksi välineeksi hahmottaa toiminnan tavoitteita ja keinoja. Tämä tutkimus pureutuu suomalaisten suurten kaupunkien uudistumiseen käynnissä olevan hyvinvointivaltion muutosvaiheen aikana käyttäen linssinään kaupunkistrategian työtapoja. Tutkimme strategiatyötä 4-5 suomalaisessa kaupunkiorganisaatiossa, joilla pitkä kokemus strategiatyön kehittämisestä. Yhdistämme tutkimuksessamme kaksi näkulmaa: systemaattisen strategisen suunnittelun ja jatkuvuutta korostavan käytäntönäkökulman.


Liisa Välikangas, Professor

Her areas of expertise and research are innovation management, strategic resilience and renewal, emergent technologies such as blockchain. How to learn from things yet to happen? How will and should management principles and practices change to stay relevant and inspiring? How will emergent high technologies reshape organisations and their management?  How will increasing resource fluidity and mutability change organizing and strategy making?

Her ongoing research projects are related to industrial innovation capabilities: open, distributed technologies such as the blockchain and its business and societal applications; strategic resilience of organisations; and developing robust tools to tackle really big problems in a society (such as food waste)

At Hanken School of Economics, Liisa acts as teacher in "Managing Knowledge and Innovation" and "World-in-the-Making: Tackling World Challenges"

Liisa also holds important positions in other institutions, such as:

- Senior Editor of Dialogue, Debate and Discussion - section in Management and Organization Review (Cambridge University Press); 

- Board Member of the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation (Tekes) and Sanoma Foundation

Her recent international books related to strategy are:

- L. Valikangas & M. Gibbert, “Strategic Innovation: The definitive guide to outlier strategies”,  New York: Pearson/Financial Times Press, 2015.

- L. Valikangas, “The Resilient Organization: How adaptive cultures succeed even when strategy fails”, New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 


Janne Tienari, Professor

His research interests include strategy work, gender and diversity, managing multinational corporations, mergers and acquisitions, and branding and media. His latest passion is to understand management, new generations, and the future. Janne is particularly interested in questions of organizing, discourses and narratives, power and resistance, identity, and the body. He teaches courses in strategy work drawing form the strategy as practice approach. Janne is also the director of the Hanken Research and Development Center GODESS (Gender, Organization, Diversity, Equality and Social Sustainability in Transnational Times). His work has been published in leading organization and management studies journals such as Academy of Management Review, Organization Science, Organization Studies, Organization, Human Relations, and Journal of Management Studies.


Jouni Virtaharju, Post Doc Researcher

Jouni hold a doctorate (tech.) in Work Psychology and Leadership. He has been a member of the Hanken Strategy research group since 2015. Before Hanken, Jouni worked at Aalto University Department of Industrial Engineering and Management for almost two decades. He has an engineering background (Industrial Management) and defended his doctoral thesis on the contextuality of leadership in Aalto University School of Science in 2016.

Jouni’s lasting research interests are related to organizational change and leadership. Earlier in his career he used to work in an applied role, helping organizations in their strategic change and leadership development projects. Over the years, he accumulated change management and research experience from multiple fields and industries, such as pharma, process industry, retail, labour unions, ICT, city and governmental organizations, military, and higher education.  Later, as Jouni focused on my dissertation, he delved into constructionist and critical leadership research. He does qualitative research and is especially interested in cultural views of organizations.

Currently, Jouni’s research focuses on strategy work practices. He is interested in how strategic themes and practices emerge and evolve over time in our extensive data set on municipal organizations. In addition, he has an active research project where they study the relationship of time and organizing in military context.

Jouni also has an active role in university teaching. He acts as the responsible teacher in Aalto Open University’s master’s level subject ‘Leadership and Knowledge Management’. He teaches courses on leadership, organization theory, and organization development in the program.  


Tricia Cleland Silva, Lecturer – Gender, management, and organizations

She focusses her research on human resource management in a transnational context. Her particular interest is on human resource strategies of migrant workers and within the health care sector. In 2016, Tricia published and defended her PhD entitled ‘Packaging Nurses: Mapping the Social Worlds in Transnational Human Resource Management’. In this monograph, she explored how organizational representatives constructed the nursing workforce and the practices used to recruit and place nurses from the Philippines into Finnish health care organizations. Tricia is a university lecturer at Hanken where she teaches gender, management and organizations; Finnish business culture; Nordic business culture; strategic human resource management; and human resource management. She is also developing an online academic writing course.


Eva-Lena Lundgren-Henriksson, Assistant Professor - Entrepreneurship and Management

Eva-Lena’s interest in strategic management is related to both strategizing and organizing at multiple levels. In her PhD thesis, Eva-Lena has investigated coopetition as a strategic change from the sensemaking and strategy-as-practice approaches. She is particularly interested in who strategists are, their histories and backgrounds, as well as how strategists draw on different types of strategic practices, such as discursive practices. Eva-Lena is currently working on initiating her postdoctoral research where she wishes to explore the coopetition paradox in new empirical contexts, as well as by employing qualitative research methods that move closer to the studied individuals. Eva-Lena is a lecturer in Vasa, where she currently teaches qualitative research methods. She has also been teaching strategy-as-practice in both bachelor and master level courses.


Mikko Vesa, Assistant Professor

His research focuses on intersections between games and organizations, strategy as practice, organizational temporality and institutional theory. His research has been published in journals such as Strategic Organization and Scandinavian Journal of Management, and Organization Studies. His research has been decorated by the Academy of Management, the European Academy of Management and the Finnish Strategic Management Society. At Hanken he acts as the examiner on courses in strategic management at the bachelors and masters level. He is also a monthly economics columnist for the newspaper Demokraatti.


J. Tuomas Harviainen, Affiliated professor

J. Tuomas Harviainen researches topics ranging from strategy's connection to future studies, value network strategies, public sector management, the importance of information practices to strategizing, and especially strategy as play. Harviainen supervises a diverse portfolio of PhD students for several Finnish universities, edits both Simulation & Gaming and the Finnish journal of sexology, and tries his best to co-author articles with as many colleagues as possible. He's a founding member of Hanken's Gamified Organizational Advantages in Leadership and Strategy (GOALS) special interest group."


Kari Jalonen, Doctoral candidate

He is a  project researcher and doctoral candidate at Hanken School of Economics. He is finishing his doctoral thesis on city strategy, concentrating on the coordination of action amidst the complexity of different perspectives. Kari has previously worked as a researcher and consultant, specializing in the development of health service systems, and has a deep interest in the development of public services. He teaches and strategy and leadership in Finnish, English and Swedish, and has a strong expertise in conducting longitudinal case studies and in applying a variety of qualitative and discursive research methods.


Philip Gylfe, Doctoral candidate

Philip specializes in strategic change, middle management, embodied interaction and video methods. In his current research project, Philip and his colleague study the issue of managing evaluation and energy in creative idea generation. In a previous research, Philip is a co-author in the article ‘Video method in strategy research: Focusing on embodied cognition’ which was published in Strategic Management Journal.