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"Theories and Perspectives in Business Administration" - Your guide in the business jungle

News: Jun 03, 2020

Business Administration is the largest subject in Sweden in terms of number of students. However, getting an overview of the various theories can be tough, because it consists of so many different research directions. But a new book now traces out the concepts and can be something to hold onto as you enter the exciting and multifaceted world we call Business Administration.

Is it at all possible to present theories and perspectives in the heterogeneous subject of Business Administration?

And can it be done in a clear and understandable way?

The answer is yes, according to the the main authors behind the new ”Theories and Perspectives in Business Administration”.

This book consists of a collection of texts on current Business Administration theories, written by researchers around the country.
Focus is both on the often quantitatively oriented perspectives that are based on the idea of homo economicus, and the understanding-oriented research branch that is rather dominated by qualitative methods.

Here you can read about everything from the business network approach to symbolic interactionism, by well-known researchers at the Universities of Gothenburg, Uppsala, Örebro, Umeå, Karlstad, Jönköping, Växjö, Stockholm, Lund, the universities Mälardalen and Södertörn, and the Stockholm School of Economics.

It all started about three years ago, according to Ulla Eriksson-Zetterquist, professor of Business Administration at Gothenburg Research Institute (GRI) at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg.

The idea comes from one of the co-authors of the book, Magnus Hansson, associate professor at Örebro University.
He lacked any kind of compilation with different theories used in Business Administration research today.
Together with Fredrik Nilsson, professor of business economics at Uppsala University, Ulla Eriksson-Zetterquist and Magnus Hansson took on the challenge of selecting the theories and areas that feel most current now.

“Fredrik and I joined the project and thought it was a fun idea, but on the verge of a hopeless challenge to decide which are the main points of Business administration,” she says.

In order to get an overview, they contacted 27 different educational institutions in Sweden:

“It immediately became obivious that it differs in different places. But that is not a surprise considering the size of the subject” she says, and continues:

“Some have a service perspective, while others focus on, for example, accounting.”

The differences around the country is something Ulla Eriksson-Zetterquist noticed when a few years earlier she visited different universities together with a bunch of doctoral students to present research and get a current situation.
That work also culminated in a session at the annual conference called Business Economics in Sweden, Fekis, which attracted many people:

“Everybody came. There is great interest because everyone wants to know what theories are that apply right now.”

This is perfectly natural considering what business economics is all about, says Ulla Eriksson-Zetterquist:

“Businesses and organizations are very complex – You can't just take a decision-maker perspective to understand what's going on, we have to add other dimensions as well,” she says.

What kind of dimensions?

“The consumption perspective is an example. A company management can sit and decide as much as possible, but if they do not understand how the customers consume it will not be good anyway.”

She believes that a company or organization can be compared to many different orchestras that can play in harmony. It must then work with everything from the individual instruments to the orchestras to work together:

“At the same time, there is so much going on outside this organizational body that we do not control, which makes it so complex and yet so interesting to research around.”

Now that the book is finished, it can be used in many ways, according to Ulla Eriksson-Zetterquist:

”For doctoral students, it can function as an Encyclopedia. For a student who is sitting and working on his C-thesis and, for example, is thinking about how to approach this accounting question about goodwill, there are different chapters that can give new perspectives and aha experiences. For the lecturer, the book can simply be a way to teach the students.”

This is something that Sofia Ulver also agrees with. She is an associate professor of marketing at the School of Economics at Lund University:

”This book can be used on several different levels – You can imagine that people can bring the book with them throughout the education because different theories become especially interesting when reading certain subjects.”

Together with business economist Peter Svensson, Sofia Ulver has written the section on Symbolic interactionism, the social-psychological theory formation that was founded in the 1960´s.

”Although symbolic interactionism may not be viewed as ”cool” anymore, it is a hugely important step in a process that has basically given rise to all socio-economic studies,” says Sofia Ulver.

What do you think is the most important thing about theories?

“Theories help us open our eyes to specific things in our world, which we might not even think about otherwise,” she says.

Another researcher who contributed is Alexander Styhre, subject responsible for Management and organization at the Business institution at the School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg.
He has written the section Decision-making in organizations, and thinks that this is a book that opens up for different discussions.

”This gives an overview of the situation right now, although there may certainly be those who will lack a certain theory or orientation.”

At the same time, he thinks that such a book should come out every ten years, as there are constantly changes in the subject:

“Business administration is such a dynamic area, and it is constantly changing. In 20 years, you might be laughing at the fact that certain directions are not included in this book.”

Ulla Eriksson-Zetterquist also thinks that the book can create discussion is precisely what theories are with:

”Given that some theories are popular in some places and are not used to any great extent in other places, this can definitely be the case. But that's a bit of fun with business economics, it's such a living topic. It also means that theories can quickly become outdated.”

”Hopefully, this book can help us to be a little smarter when it comes to how we choose and use different theories.”

BY: Agnes Faxén

Page Manager: Agnes Faxén|Last update: 6/5/2020

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