“When Henry Met Fritz”: Rules As Organizational Frameworks For Emergent Strategy Process

Nicolai Foss, Matthew Mccaffrey, Carmen Elena Dorobat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Henry Mintzberg’s celebrated critique of the “design school” argued that strategy is best thought of as adaptive, bottom-up, and based on dispersed knowledge and learning. Yet Mintzberg’s account lacks a clear and comprehensive theoretical underpinning, especially regarding how to guide emergent strategy in dynamic environments, and leverage it to exploit value creation. We provide this foundation by showing how Mintzberg’s critique of planning and design at the level of organizational strategy is in key ways anticipated by F.A. Hayek’s critique of planning and design at the societal level. Both writers are critical of rationalist epistemology and instead stress experiential knowledge, fallibility, and unanticipated social consequences. Hayek also extends Mintzberg’s work by showing how rules in the firm capture adaptive, experiential, tacit, and dispersed knowledge in the context of dynamic environments. A framework of rules thus creates inimitable and non-substitutable resources that enable the firm to fully exploit its competitive advantage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-149
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Management Inquiry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jul 2022


  • Henry Mintzberg
  • F.A. Hayek
  • organizational strategy
  • tacit knowledge
  • dispersed knowledge
  • design school
  • emergent strategy
  • strategy as rules


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