New academic fields as social movements: The case of strategic management

Donald C. Hambrick, Ming Jer Chen

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Scholars in the sociology of science have long been interested in the factors that cause an established academic field to be prestigious, as well as in the benefits that accrue from having prestige. But they have shown remarkably little interest in systematic investigation of the factors that allow an academic field to emerge at all. In this paper, we model the ascendance of a new academic field as a successful social movement, consisting of three major elements: differentiation, mobilization, and legitimacy-building. For a new field to emerge, the aspiring community must differentiate itself from other existing fields, making claims about how a class of important problems cannot be solved by these status quo entities. Second, there must be a mobilization of resources; the elements of collective action - political opportunity structure, a bounded set of shared interests, and social infrastructure - must be in place or put in place. Third, the aspiring community must build legitimacy in the eyes of the academic establishment, both by intellectual persuasion as well as by adherence to the norms, styles, and standards of adjacent established fields. We illustrate each element of our model by applying it to the published histories of four academic fields: agricultural chemistry, artificial intelligence, molecular biology, and radio astronomy. And we apply the model comprehensively to explain the rise of a specific field within the administrative sciences: strategic management.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - Dec 1 2005
Event65th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, AOM 2005 - Honolulu, HI, United States
Duration: Aug 5 2005Aug 10 2005


Other65th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management, AOM 2005
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityHonolulu, HI

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems and Management


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