Strategy and Authenticity: Authenticity as a Means of Communicating Strategic Commitments and a Source of Competitive Advantage
Strategy & Business Policy
Speaker: Oliver Hahl
Associate Professor - Canergie Mellon University
Conference Jouy-en-Josas T004
While authenticity research has received increasing attention from scholars in organizational theory, marketing, and sociology, it has only rarely been used to make sense of the types of questions asked and with the frameworks used by strategy scholars. In this essay, we seek to present authenticity as a potentially useful conceptual tool for strategy scholars. In particular, we suggest that the concept of authenticity is deeply related to foundational ideas in strategy research and can be a means for organizations to communicate commitments to stakeholders and competitors. As validation of an identity claim from a firm, perceived authenticity is often driven by firms’ actions, and it can pose both benefits and constraints (i.e., tradeoffs) on firms that seek to project it. After establishing authenticity’s relationship to strategic commitments, and more broadly the strategic management literature, we discuss the conditions under which authenticity can form the basis of a sustained competitive advantage and help firms deal with thorny strategic issues from employee engagement to governance. In doing so, we propose areas of research that could benefit from utilizing authenticity as a concept to make sense of how some firms outperform others and the constraints some firms face when they employ strategies emphasizing their authenticity.