Bachelor or Master Thesis on “Microfoundations of Innovation”

Organizational outcomes depend substantially on individuals. While research on the effects of top managers on organizational outcomes took off over thirty years ago, the strategic management literature has recently developed a broader interest in the influence of individuals on organizational outcomes. This emerging literature stream, which has gained traction in the last decade, has been called the “microfoundations movement in strategy and organization theory” (Felin et al., 2015: 575). The microfoundations research program seeks “to understand how individual-level factors impact organizations, how the interaction of individuals leads to emergent, collective, and organization-level outcomes […], and how relations between macro variables are mediated by micro actions and interactions” (Felin et al., 2015: 576).Innovation-related outcomes are prominent cases of organizational outcomes that substantially depend on individuals. The innovation literature demonstrates that in today’s business landscape, a firm’s top managers and its employees are not the only individuals that provide relevant input to firm innovation, but that other individuals such as customers make crucial contributions as well.

The following article cited above may provide you with a first overview of the microfoundations movement:
Felin T, Foss NJ, Ployhart RE. 2015. The microfoundations movement in strategy and organization theory. Academy of Management Annals, 9: 575–632.
We are currently looking for students that are interested in analyzing the existing management literature in order (a) to understand what we already know about the microfoundations of innovation, (b) to identify inconsistencies in the literature, and (c) to develop propositions on what should be studied more extensively.

Your profile

  • Strong interest in academic research and in exploring the academic literature (especially in the strategic management and the technology/innovation management fields)
  • Pronounced analytical skills
  • Organized and conscientious working attitude
  • Good writing skills in English or German (the thesis may be written in German or English)
  • Ambition to finish thesis in Spring 2020

Whom to contact?

If you find the topic intriguing and match the above profile, please do not hesitate to contact Prof. Dr. Maximilian Palmié ( with any questions you have. Please attach your CV and current grade transcript to your e-mail.

Prof. Dr. Maximilian Palmié
Assistant Professor of Energy and Innovation Management