Västhagen and after

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Lars Engwall

Department of Business Studies Uppsala universitet

Denna uppsats har tidigare presenterats vid Nordisk

Företagsekonomisk Konferens-90 vid Svenska Handelshögskolan i

Vasa 21-24.8 1990




This paper reports on the main results from a survey of the 270 authors of doctoral dissertations in Sweden until the end of 1985. It points to an increasing tendency to focus on organisational problems and to use organisational theory as the main frame of reference. Data collection interviews, secondary material and questionnaires have been dominant. In dealing with the data qualitative methods have grown considerably in importante.

1. Introduction

In 1950 Nils Västhagen defended his dissertation on the concepts of income and expenses in accounting (Västhagen, 1950). He thereby became the first in Sweden to take a doctor's degree in business administration.' A prerequisite for this event was that the Stockholm and Gothenburg Schools of Economics had been permitted to award research degrees in 1946 and 1950, respectively. The latter in turn constituted an important event for the discipline, sinte it definitely

incorporated the business schools among the established

academic institutions. The Swedes thereby followed the pattern already begun in many other countries. The German

Handelshochschulen had obtained "Promotionsrecht" already in

the late 1920s (ter Vehn, 1959, Inl. 1, kap. 1). But also in

the United States similar ambitions were at hand: Harvard

Business School awarded its first Doctor of Commercial

Sciences in 1928 (Lyon, 1986, p. 43). Later on, particularly

in the 1950s and the 196Os, the introduction of doctoral

'The first person to defend a thesis at a Swedish business

school was Folke Kristensson at Stockholm School of Economics

in 1946. Although he later, in 1949, became professor of

business administration, his dissertation on the structure of

the Swedish textile industry (Kristensson, 1946) was, however,

in economics.


programmes has been an important instrument to raise the status of a number of US academic institutions teaching business administration (Whitley, 1984, p. 733).

With the passage of time Västhagen had 32 followers, who defended their theses for the doctor's degree. After the replacement of this deqree in the late 1960s by the doctor's exam, modelled on the American Ph.D, he also until the end of 1985 got another 237 successors of the new type.2 Thus there were altogether 270 persons in Sweden, who by the end of 1985 had defended a Doctor's thesis in business administration.

These dissertations can no doubt be considered relatively to reflect well the research within the discipline. First, dissertations constitute an important part of the research undertaken by business administration schalars. Setond, dissertations can be said to constitute the meeting-point between different generations of researchers: the tutors and the doctoral students. In this way the dissertations m,ay throw light upon the mechanisms of change; whether they have been of a revolutionary type as suggested by Kuhn (1962) or more of a

"muddling through" or "garbage can" type in accordance with the reasoning of Lindblom (1959) and March & Olsen (1976).

In these circumstances the above 270 dissertation authors have been surveyed by a mail questionnaire (cf. Appendix).3

2For a summary of two systems for post-graduate training, cf.

Engwall (1987) and Zetterblom (1986).

3This study is part of a larger research program on the

development of Swedish business administration. Earlier

publications include two dissertations, one treating the

development until the foundation of Stockholm School of

Economics (Gunnarsson, 1988), the other focusing on the later

development. A publication in English summarizing the results

of the project is in progress.



The present paper Will present the results from this survey in terms of three fundamental issues: research problems,

theoretical foundations and methods.4

2. Research Problems

The fatt that Västhagen wrote a dissertation within the accounting field is rather significant, sinte this was the basis for the early discipline (cf. e.g. Engwall, 1980). With the passage of time other problems have been added to both the curriculum and the research agenda, however. For the latter it is quite clear from the dissertations that the organizational issues have become increasingly in focus (Table 1). While only 4% were oriented towards administration before 1966 the

proportion had continuously risen to 43% in the period 1981- 85. Losers have been accounting/finance (from 17% to 8%) and marketing (from 54% to 20%). In both cases, but particularly in the former, a probable contributing factor has been the advantageous labour market. Students with these specialties have therefore found doctoral studies less attractive. The backward trend for managerial economics, on the other hand, is more likely to depend on the changed position for Management Science and Operations Research. After a period of expansion in the late 196Os, the research in this area gradually moved to departments of statistics and institutes of technology, whereas departments of business administration were more apt to stress the implementation problems, i.e. the difficulties

4For discussions of the dissertations from the Gothenburg School of Economics, cf.


Gandemo & Mattsson (1990) and Jönsson


to use mathematitally sophisticated models in practice. Some


the operation resewrcherq +serefore werie nore interc-tnd in organizational problems tharl optimization metbods,'

.” __.^ __._ .___ ;___.li_l_ ..___ -- _.._^__ “~ .._^_,_ - -____ - __._ -_-__- __-_. “~ s__.___.___.._l.‘^_...

P r o b l e m Field ~1966 1966-70 1971-75 1976-80 1981-85 Total -___ ___________-_--_-_______________________~~-~~__~~~~~~~__~~~~~~___~

Administration, Strategy, Organi-

sation, I.eadership 4.3 29.6: 23.9 33.1 43.? 30.0 Accounting/Financa 16.? 2.9 9.2 12.1 8.3 9.8 Managerial

Economics 12.5 26.5 22.3 16.9 13.6 18.3 Marketing 54.2 29.4 19.6 20.5 39.7 22.0 Oublic Admini-

stration 0.0 0.0 6.0 4.8 3,o 4.3

Small Business, Industrial

Organisation 8.3 2.9 7.6 5.4 0.8 5.8


Business 0.0 8.0 4.4 1.8 3.0 2.E


Psychology 0 0 0.0 4.4 2.4 1.5 2.6

Others General 4.2 8.8 2.7 3,O 6.8 4.3


Humber 12 17 92 83 66 270

Note : Operations Research applications are classified under Managerial Economics. In cases when respondents have mentioned more than one field these have been weighted equally.

Comparing the different departments (Table 2) we find Lund (LU) and Umeå (Urnu) to show an above average share of dissertations in the administrative field. In both cases we can see effects of tutor orientation. At LU Erik Rhenman developed a tradition of combining organizational research and consultinq (cf. e.g. Rhenman, 1973), whereas Dick Ramström, 5This chanqe of focus is also a reflection of changes in practice. As Weinqartner (1987) points out the departments of MS/OR in large organisations are gradually beinq scrapped. Cf.

also Jennerqren (1987) for a discussion the development of

operations research.



chose to orient Urnu towards small business problems. The latter specialisation also comes out quite clearly in the data. At Urnu administration, small business and industrial organisation thus accounted for almost 80 % of dissertations.

This strategy of focus had earlier been employed by Sune Carlson at Uppsala (UV), when he returned to academia in 1958 after six years with the United Nations. In that case the original toncentration was in international business and administration. Gradually the specialisation has later also included industrial marketing. Thus four out of five theses at UU were in administration, marketing or international

business. The two Schools of Economics in Stockholm (SSE) and Gothenburg (GSE), exhibit a more balanced pattern among

fields, which is a natural result of their organisation into a number of specialised sections. Administration and marketing had larger shares at GSE than at SSE, however. To some extent this is an effect of a broader specialisation at the latter institution. As a result of its decision in the early 1960s to create a chair in economic psychology it was for instance almost alone to have dissertations in this field. Among the four main areas SSE and Stockholm University (SU) exhibit an above average share for managerial economics. For SU this is a result of the orientation of the first chairholder Bertil Näslund. In later years this tradition has been continued by Paulsson Frenckner, who also during his years at SSE

contributed to its high share of managerial economics (cf.

Olve & Samuelsson, 1986).


Table 2. Problem Field of the Dissertations bv Universitv (%) -_______-_-____--_____~--____-_--__~_----__----__~----__~-__-__-~___

Problem Field GSE iX CSE su UmU UU Total

~~~---~~~~~~-I~--"i~<~1--~~"~~,----^.~~~----~~~---~~~~--~---~---~l---- Administration,

Strategy, Orga,-.


Leadership 31.1 46.2 21.2 27.4 42.1 25.0 30.9 Accounting/Finance Ii.6 9.5 13.9 3.9 0.0 10.0 9.6 Managerial

Economics 18.8 11.1 27.9 25.0 5.3 10.0 18.3 Marketing 26.1 15.9 16.5 19.2 5.3 40.0 22.0 Publit

Administration 6.0 4.0 5.1 1l.S 0.0 3.0 4.3 Small Business

and Industrial

Organization 1.5 7.9 3.8 3.9 36.8 0.0 5.0 International

Business 0.0 1.6 2.5 0.0 0.0 15.0 2.8


Psychology 0.0 0.0 7.6 1.9

1::: ::o 2.6

Others General 10.4 4.8 2.5 9.6 4.3


"Numher 53 53 73 42 19 36 270


The above results are based on the classification made by the authors in responding the questionnaire. In order to facilitate a more open analysis they were aiso asked to verbally describe their research probiem. An analysis of these responses (Table 3) shows that the first period was dominated by two problem areas : sales problems and managerial economics. Words like

"assortment", "budget" and other expressions related to economic analysis come out at the top.6 During 1966-70 the researchers tended to focus on the "finn" and particularly

"decisions" within these units. This orientacion prevailea also in the third period, but now the focus on organizational

problems is emerging: "organization" and "structure" are two

6The answers have been processed by the basic methodology

described in Engwall (1983). In this particular case the

frequency lists have been obtained by using the program



frequently used words. In addition one can see a tendency to use a new methodological language: a wish to "analyse",

"describe", "develop" and "use". Many of the top words from 1971-75 were also frequent in the late 19708, although the ranking looked different. The increased emphasis on

organisation theory is manifested by a setond place for

"organisation", whereas "describe" was dropped from the top list (frequency = 6). Instead authors used words like "model",

"study" and "relation". A completely new feature on the top list is the mentioning of "tonsumers" and *products'*, a

reflection of the discussion on tonsumer protection in the late 19708, which led to the re-definition of a chair at LU in 1977.

This focus on tonsumer affairs is not manifested in the last period, however. Still the study objects "finn" and

"organization" are most frequent, but the decision orientation has declined. "Planning", "control" and "effects" are concepts in focus, whereas the scientific ambitions are not only to

"use" and "analyze" but also to "explain".

Concluding on the research problems we have thus seen a distinctive increase in the interest in organizational problems. This has particularly been the case in Lund and Umeå. Their specialisation also seems to be part of larger trend, which according to Whitley (1984) may lead to

fragmentation. But we have also noted a tendency to focus more

on general organization problems than on specific ones. In

addition the research ambitions seem to have increased from

descriptive to more explanatory purposes.


Table 3. The Most Freuuent Siunificant Words in the Authors Responses to the Survey Question on the Research Problem






assortment (sortiment) 5, budget (budget) 4, economic (ekonomisk) 4, analyze (analysera) 3, deviation (avvikelse) 3, internal (intern) 3 firm (företag) 4, decision (beslut) 3, economic (ekonomisk) 3, optimal (optimal) 3, apply (tillämpa) 3

firm (företag) 38, analyze (analysera) 16, describe (beskriva) 15, organization (organisation) 14, planning (planering) 14, region (region) 14, decision (beslut) 12, develop (utveckla) 12, structure (struktur) 11, use (användning) 10 firm (företag) 34, organization (organisation) 23, analyze (analysera) 12,decision (beslut) 12, develop (utveckla) 12, tonsumer (konsument) 10, model

(modell) 10, study (studera) 10, change (förändra) 9, product (produkt) 9, relation (samband) 9, control (kontroll) 9

firm (företag) 19, organisation (organisation) 12,use (användning) 11, explain (förklara) 11, planning (planering) 9, analysis (analys) 8, control

(styra) 8, effect (effekt) 7, factor (faktor) 7, cost (kostnad) 7, development (utveckling) 7


Source: Questionnaire data processed by the statistical

program WordCruncher. Word occurrences with the same stem have been brought together. The words are translations from Swedish with the Swedish words in parentheses. Figures show


3. Theoretical Foundations

The bias towards organizational approaches is also underlined

as we look at the three most important references of the

dissertations according to the authors' replies to the

questionnaire. Eighty-five per cent of the 270 respondents



provided a total of 685 mentionings.7 Of these 488 were unique. On an average every unique reference was thus only mentioned 1.4 times. As a matter of fatt more than three- fourths of the references were only mentioned once, whereas just a small part (3.4%) had more than three mentionings.

The tendency among these seventeen top references (Table is rather clear, however. Again there is a bias towards organisation theory. Outstanding -- both with respect to frequency (F) and distribution over departments (D) -- were Thompson (1967), Cyert & March (1963) and March & Simon


(1958). Sinte also other works by James G. March and Herbert A. Simon were mentioned (totally 16 mentionings), the results clearly indicate that the research traditions from Carnegie Institute of Technology -- with its focus on bounded

rationality, uncertainty and satisficing behaviour -- has had a particularly strong impact on Swedish business research.

More evidente in the same direction is that Cyert, March and Simon have all been shown appreciation for their contributions to Swedish research by being awarded honorary degrees: Cyert in Gothenburg (1972), March in Uppsala (1986) and Simon in Lund (1968). Simon even became a Nobel Laureate in 1978.8

The influence from the behavioral theory can in a way even be extended to include the first reference on the list

7Several of those responding also communicated that they considered the question difficult to answer.

8An important circumstance for the dispersion of the Carnegie- Tech ideas was probably that a number of Swedes studied in Pittsburgh. This was also reinforced by a two-week seminar outside Gothenburg in 1969, where Cyert, Simon and their faculty colleagues worked together with Scandinavian schalars

(Goldberg, 1970).


Table 4. The References Ouoted More than Three Times


F/D Reference

---___~~---_~~~~--~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~---~~~--- 14/6



Thompson, J. D., 1967, Oraanisations in Action, New York:


Cyert, R. M. & March, J. G., 1963, A Behavioral Theorv of the Firm, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.

March, J. G. & Simon, H. A., 1958, Organisations, New York: Wiley.


612 Lawrence, P.R. & Lorsch, J.W., 1967, Oraanisation and Environment, Boston, Mass.: Harvard University.

6/2 Silverman, D., 1970, The Theorv of Oraanisations, London:





Glaser, B. G. & Strauss, A. L., 1967, The Discoverv of Grounded Theorv, New York: Aldine.

Håkansson, H. (ed.), 1982, International Marketina and Purchasinq -- An Interaction Approach, New York: Wiley.

Schon, D., 1971, Bevond the Stable State, London: Maurice Temple Smith.








4/3 4/4

Ackoff, R. L., 1962, Scientific Method: Ootimizinq Aoolied Research Decisions, New York: Wiley.

Anthony, R. N., 1965, Planninq and Control Svstems: A Framework for Analysis, Boston, MA: Harvard University.

Burns, T. & Stalker, G. M., 1961, The Manaaement of Innovation, London: Tavistock.

Chandler, A. D. Jr., 1962, Strateqv and Structure.

Chapters in the Historv of the American Industrial Enterorise, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Churchman, C. W., 1968, The Systems Approach, New York:


Churchman, C. W., 1971, The Desiqn of Inquirinq Svstems.

Basic Concepts of Svstems and Organisation, New York:

Basic Books.

Emerson, R. M., 1962, "Power--Dependence Relations", American Socioloaical Review, 27, No. 1, pp. 31-40.

Normann, R., 1975, Skapande företaqsledninq, Lund: Aldus.

Pfeffer, J, & Salancik, G. R., 1978, The External Control

of Orqanizations. A Resource Deoendence Persoective, New

York: Harper & Row.



(Thompson, 1967). It is not directly a product of the Carnegie School, but "seeks to extend this ÄtraditionÅ" (u., P. 9).

As a result the names Cyert, March and Simon are the most frequently mentioned in Thompson's name index (u., pp. 179- 181). Thompson also pointed to the open character of

organizations. In the opinion of Rhenman (1973, p. 3) he did this to an insufficient extent, however:

Thompson (1976) has also provided a rich source of ideas. He erects an imposing system, based mainly on the postulate that organixations are 'subjett to rationality norms'. 1 find his ideas attractive. At the same time 1 am disturbed by his almost total disregard of the variety of both organisations and environments.

Keeping this tomment in mind it is rather natural to find a number of works on the list in Table 4, that take

technological and environmental circumstances into

consideration (Lawrence & Lorsch, 1967; Burns & Stalker, 1961, Churchman, 1968 and Pfeffer & Salancik, 1978).

Among references outside the organixation theory only one (Anthony, 1965) is directed towards managerial economics and three (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Ackoff, 1962; and Churchman, 1971) towards methodological issues. Of the latter the many mentionings of Glaser & Strauss (1967) are related to the tendency of an increasingly qualitative orientation of Swedish business research (cf. below).

The organixation theory orientation also appears as lasting

over time, when the top references in different periods is

investigated (Table 5). Only before 1966 do we find a work in


managerial economics (Dean, 1951) as a top reference. Then the Carnegie School and Thompson (1967) dominate.g

Table 5. T


Reference bv Period


Period Reference n N %







Dean, J., 1951, Manaaerial Economics,

Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice-Hall 2 29 6.9 March, J. G. & Simon, H. A., 1958,

Oraanisations, New York: Wiley. 4 33 10.3 Cyert, R. M. & March, J. G., 1963,

A Behavioral Theorv of the Finn,

Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. 7 237 3.0 Thompson, J. D., 1967, Orqanizations

in Action, New York: McGraw-Hill. 7 198 3.5 Thompson, J. D., 1967, Oruanizations

in Action, New York: McGraw-Hill. 6 178 3.4

Note: Three mentionings of Thompson (1967) in 1976-80 concerned the Swedish translation. In the last period the corresponding figure was one. N in the legend corresponds to the total number of references mentioned and 9 to the number of times the particular reference has been mentioned.

Once more there is evidente of specialization between departments. Five of the six menti onings of Lawrence & Lorsch

(1967) thus tame from SSE doctors, whereas LU doctors showed a similarly strong bias for Silverman (1967). Some of the top references are even concentrated to just one university:

Håkansson (1982) is only mentioned by UU doctors and Schon (1971) by LU doctors. T


some extent these results illustrate

'Similar results were obtained in a study of research

presented at the Nordic conferences in business administration (Sundin, 1983). There Emery & Trist, March, Simon and Thompson are even mentioned as the household gods of business

administration for the last twenty-five years.



research orientations at the different departments. Roughly speaking one could say that the SSE selections point to a management strategy bias, those of LU to an orientation towards phenomenological issues and matro-organisations, and those of UU to a specialization in industrial marketing. Top references at GSE with four mentionings were Cyert & March

(1963) and Thompson (1967). The latter was also most frequent in the responses from Urnu (3 times). At SU, finally, no clear top candidate tame out of the survey. Eleven references with frequency 2 tied for the first place. Among them were three of those in the total top list (Churchman, 1971; Glaser &

Strauss, 1967; and Thompson, 1967).

An additional interesting question in relation to the influence from references is their age, i.e. the time elapsed between the publication of a basic reference and the

dissertation. The median value for this variable is seven years. With the exception of an increase to ten years for the period 1966-70, the variation around this median value between departments and over periods is rather small. It is then noteworthy that median age for references coincides with the median time for dissertation work, which was also seven years.

Sinte it seems reasonable to assume that a doctoral student gets in touch with his main references at least half way through his studies, we may thus conclude that a typical diffusion time is 3-4 years. For some of the standard references, like those listed in Table 4, early publication may be compensated by early introduction to the doctoral



To sum up we have thus obtained further evidente for the development of the business administration research towards an increased focus on organizational problems.

seen that the specialization of departments tendencies of fragmentation.

4. Methods

We have also again has led to certain

If there is a certain specialization in terms of problem fonnulation and theoretical orientation, the empirital character of the research work is a significant joint

characteristic of business administration dissertations. This comes out quite clearly in the study of the dissertations

(Table 6). Only a tiny 4% of all the dissertations has thus been purely theoretical. Among the rest business finns have apparently been the most tommon research obiect. Its share of the dissertations has even increased from one-third before 1966 to almost three-fifths in 1981-85.l' There are though certain, although not very strong tendencies, to study also organisations with other types of owners particularly publit organizations. This was especially true during the late 1970s with 17 of 83 (20.5%) of the dissertations focusing on such units. In total, however, these studies were not more frequent than studies of industries/markets or individuals. The trend for the latter two have been downward. Low interest over all has been devoted to studies of households (about 2%).

"Thus this is in tontrast to a remark by the economist Ingemar Ståhl at the 1979 Nordic conference on business administration, which read as follows: "Exactly as education is abandoning its institutional field, the school, the

business schalars are abandoning the finn" (Svenska Dagbladet,

August 25 1979, p. 23).



Table 6. Research Obiects bv Period


Research Object <1966 1966-70 1971-75 1976-80 1981-85 Total _________-________--___---___~~~____-~~-__-~~~~----~~~---~~~_____

Business Finns 33.3 41.2 47.8 43.4 57.6 47.8 Individuals 25.0 11.8 12.0 14.5 13.6 13.7 Industries/Markets 16.7 17.7 19.6 8.4 4.6 12.2 Publit Bodies 8.3 11.8 4.4 20.5 13.6 12.2

Divisions 0.0 5.9 9.8 4.8 10.6 7.8

No Empirital Units 8.3 11.8 6.5 3.6 4.4

Households 8.3 0.0 0.0 4.8


1.9 _________--_____----________-~~~_~---~~~-_-~~~~_---~~~~-_~~~-_--

Number 12 17 92 83 66 270


As far as data collection is concerned interviews and secondary data dominate (Table 7). Together with

questionnaires they account for 80% of the data collection.

Interviews have increased in importante sinte the early 197Os, partly at the expense of secondary data. Thus there seems be some tendency to work with qualitative data collected within the project, a conclusion which is consistent with high ranking of Glaser & Strauss (1967) shown in Table 4.

Table 7. Data Collection Methods by Period (%)_




Method <1966 1966-70 1971-75 1976-80 1981-85 Total _~~~~_---~~---~-_____~______~---_---_----___-_--______________

Interviews 29.2 39.2 29.7 35.6 42.4 35.2

Secondary data

and Literature 33.3 36.3 31.6 30.2 26.0 30.2 Questionnaire 12.5 6.9 15.9 14.4 17.7 15.2 Observation and

Action Research 8.3 0.0 11.2 13.0 12.4 11.2 No Empirital Units 8.3 11.8 6.5 3.6 0.0 4.5

Experiments 0.0 5.9 3.1 2.8 0.0 2.3

Quasi and Field

Experiments 0.0 0.0 1.9 0.4

Indirect Methods 8.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 ::;

1.1 0.4 _____________________--~~~~~__~~~~___~~~~_-_~~_----~~_____~--____~~~_

Number 12 17 92 83 66 270


Note: In cases when respondents have mentioned more than one

method these have been weighted equally.


An analysis of the open responses concerning data nrocessinq methods (Table 8) reveals that statistical methods have been very important throughout. Until 1976 the word "statistics"

was at the top. Then the more general "analysis" is taking over the front position. Most remarkable is the change in the last period, when the words "qualitative" and "case" both out- number "statistics". It is to be noted, however, that

"qualitative" and "interpretation" were among the top five words already in 1971-75. But then the challenge of

quantitative methods to the qualitative ones was more developed. Among the quantitative methods the most popular throughout were regression analysis (28), correlation analysis

(15), multivariate methods (lo), simulation (9), discriminant analysis 7), cross tabulation (6), factor analysis (6), chi- square analysis (6) and variance analysis (5). The use of these methods has been highly stimulated by the advances of computer technology and statistical program packages.

"Computer processing" thus store high in the period 1966-80.

Among those defending their thesis in the last period, however, the computer was less popular.

A classification of the responses in terms of the

categories quantitative/qualitative (Table 9) understores the importante of the quantitative methods as well as its decline:

it accounted for almost two-thirds in the period 1966-70 but only somewhat above one-third in the last period.

Simultaneously the qualitative methods increased from about

one-eighth to above one-half. The combination of quantitative

and qualitative methods has varied around the average of

15.6%. Needless to say the trends of data processing are



Table 8. The Most Freouent Siqnificant Words in the Authors Resoonses to the Survev Ouestion on Data Process-

inq Methods


Period The Most Used Words








statistics (statistik) 5, test (test) 3, analysis (analys) 3, table (tabell) 2

statistics (statistik) 5, interviews (intervjuer) 4, simulation (simulering) 3, tontent analysis

(innehållsanalys) 3, computer processing (datorbehandling) 2, model (modell) 2

statistics (statistik) 24, regression analysis (regressionsanalys) 15, qualitative (kvalitativ) 14, computer processing (datorbehandling)ll,

interpretation (tolkning) 11, processing (bearbetning) 8, quantitative (kvantitativ) 7, tontent analysis (innehållsanalys) 6, simulation

(simulering) 5, system (system) 5, compilation (sammanställning) 5, multiple (muLtipe1) 5, correlation analysis (korrelationsanalys) 5, case analysis (fallanalys) 5

analysis (analys) 34, statistics (statistik) 20, method (metod) 14, computer processing

(datorbehandling) 13, regression analysis

(regressionsanalys) 9, model (modell) 9, data (data) 9, qualitative (kvalitativ) 8, simple (enkel) 8, processing (bearbetning) 8, comparative (jämförande) 7, interview analysis (intervjuanalys) 7, describe (beskriva) 6, tabulation (tabulering) 5, compilation (sammanställning) 5, multivariat (multivariat) 5, compute (beräkna) 5

analysis (26), qualitative (kvalitativ) 16, case (fall) 16, statistics (statistik) 13, data (data) 11, processing (bearbetning) 11, method (metod) 10, tomparisons (jämförelser) 7, interpretation

(tolkning) 6, manual (manuell) 5, simple (enkel) 5, questionnaire (enkät) 5

analysis (analys) 92, statistics (statistik) 66, method (metod) 41, qualitative (kvalitativ) 43, data

(data) 32, computer processing (datorbearbetning) 31, regression analysis (regressionsanalys) 28, case analysis (fallanalys) 27, interpretation (tolkning) 22, processing (bearbetning) 22, tabulation

(tabulering) 22, interview analysis (intervjuanalys, 20

Source: Cf. Table 3.


related to the above exhibited changes in favour of for data collection. These tendencies were probably

interviews als0 important for the prolongation of study times. l1 For quite a few students the qualitative methods turned out to be more difficult than expected.

Table 9. Data Processina Metheds bv Period I%[


Method <1966 1966-70 1971-75 1976-80 1981-85 Total ____________________~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Quantitative 50.0 64.7 51.1 48.2 34.9 47.0 Qualitative 25.0 11.8 22.8 33.7 53.0 33.0 Both Types 16.7 11.8 19.6 14.5 12.1 15.6 Not Applicable 8.3 11.8 6.5 3.6 0.0 4.4 ____________________~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Number 12 17 92 83 66 270


5. Conclusions

As we now come to the conclusion it is evident that quite a few things have happened in business administration research sinte Nils Västhagen defended his thesis at GSE in 1950. The questionnaire data have shown very profound changes in research orientation from 1950 to 1985. The most important change is a clear trend towards increasing emphasis on organisational problems, which has been evidenced both by problem choice and theoretical foundations. This can be seen as a reflection of an increasing specialisation in practical management, but it is also important to mention the challenges of the neoclassical theory of the finn, which have implied new views on business behaviour: bounded rationality, satisficing,

'lAccording to the questionnaire the proportion of doctors

taking the exam before five years had passed, has declined

from 83.3 8 in 1966-70, to 41.0 % in 1971-75, 15.9 % in 1976-

80 and 9.1 % in 1981-85.



uncertainty avoidance, etc. The turn of research interest has not implied that the business finn has been abandoned as research object, however. Rather one can see a tendency that the business firm was more in focus in the early 1980s than in the early 1960s.

The increased focus on organisational problems in turn has implied new developments in terms of methodology. The earlier domination for quantitative methods has gradually heen

challenged by qualitative ones. There has been an increasing tendency to use soft data, mainly int.erviews, rather than hard statistical data.

Finally, it seems that the development of the discipline is better described by the processes of "muddling through" or "

garbage can" than "scientific revolutions". A contributing factor to this circumstance is the tendency towards

fragmentation discussed by Whitley (1984), which has aiso been

illustrated in the present paper. This has made it possible

for, or perhaps even forced, the gate-keepers to keep an open

attitude towards new ideas, thereby contributing to the

renewal of the discipline.


Appendix. DescriDtion of the Questionnaire Survev

The basis for the questionnaire survey was lists of

dissertations provided by the different departments. Addresses to the respondents were then sought through various sources.

After a test with a small sample of respondents the questionnaire was mailed to the total population in early December 1986. After two reminders and 18 weeks the response rate was about three-fourths. Continuous reminders by mail and telephone even into the spring of 1988 reduced the non-

responses to 12 persons (4.4 %), out of which three were deceased. For them as much data as possible were collected from the various departments and the dissertations.

The questions read as follows:






Date of Birth

What academic degree did you hold?

At which university did you obtain your degree?

When did you start your postgraduate studies?

Did you have any working experience before you started your postgraduate studies? If "Yes"

months and position/duties).

please state employment (No. of

6. Date of dissertation (month, year)?

1. Where was your dissertation held?

8. What did you aim for? (doktorsgraden/doktorsexamen) 9. Who was your tutor or main teacher? What was his academic position then? (professor, docent, doctor, other)

10. Who was the Faculty Discussant at your dissertation? What was his academic degree then? To which university was he attributed?

11. What is the title of your doctoral thesis?

12. If your thesis has been published please give name of publisher and place of publication.

13. Which of the following subjetts is the primary one in your thesis? (1) Administration, (2) Accounting/Finance, (3)

Managerial Economics, (4) Marketing, (5) Other. If "Other"

please statel

14. What is the main problem of your thesis?

15. What are the foremost theoretical foundations in your



16. What are the three most important literary references?

(Author, Year of Publication, Published in)

17. Which empirital entities did you study in youx thesis?

18. What characteristics in these study objects did you investigate?

19. What methods did you use for collectrng data?

20. What methods did yen use t:) orocess the collect-ea ,3ata?

21. What is the most important r-sult of your thesis?

12. 90~ have you been EtmpLoye~l sirre yo-ir dissert3ti.w !plc%ase List in chronological order: No. of Years, Employe;r.

Position/Duties Title






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Anthony, R. N., 1965, Planning and Control Systems: A Framework for Analysis, Boston, MA: Harvard University.

Burns, T. & Stalker, G. M., 1961, The Management of Innovation, London: Tavistock.

Chandler, A. D. Jr., 1962, Strategy and Structure. Chapters in the History of the American Industrial Enterprise, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Churchman, C. W., 1968, The Systems Approach, New York: Dell.

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Cliffs, N.J:

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Engwall, L., 1983, "Research Note: Linguistic Analysis of an Open-Ended Questionnaire in an Organizational Study",

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Glaser, B. G. & Strauss, A. L., 1967, Tbc Discovery of Grounded Theory, New York: Aldine.

Goldberg, W. (ed.), 1970, Behavioral Approaches to Modern

Management I-II, Gothenburg: BAS.


Gunnarsson, E., 1988, Från Hansa till Handelshögskola. Svensk ekonomundervisning fram till 1909 (From Hanseatic League to a School of Economics. Swedish Business Education up to 1909), Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis. Studia Oeconomiae Negotiorum

29, Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksell International (diss.).

Håkansson, H. (ed.), 1982, International Marketing and Purchasing -- An Interaction Ap,oroach, New York: Wiley.

Jennergren, L. P., 1987, "Betriebswirtschaftslehre und

Verfahrensforschung - Dreissig Jahre Später", Zeitschrift für Betriebswirtschaft, 57, Heft 2, pp. 189-194.

Jönsson, S., 1990, "Vart är företagsekonomisk forskning på väg? -- En kommentar" (Where is Business Administration Research Going? A Commentj, FE-rapport 1990-302,

Företagsekonomiska institutionen, Handelshögskolan vid Göteborgs universitet (mimeo).

Kristensson, F., 1946, Studier i svenska textila industriers struktur (Studies in the Structure of the Swedish Textile Industries), Stockholm: IUI (diss.).

Kuhn, T. S., 1962, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Lawrence, P.R. & Lorsch, J.W., 1967, Organisation and Environment, Boston, Mass.: Harvard University.

Lindblom, C., 1959, "The Science of 'Muddling Through'", Publie Administration Quarterly, 19, pp. 79-88.

Lyon, M., 1986, "Teaching to Inspire. Doctoral Programs at the Harvard Business School", HBS Bulletin, April, pp. 42-50.

March, J. G. & Olsen, J. P., 1976, Ambiguity and Choice in Organizations, Bergen: Universitetsforlaget.

March, J. G. &


Simon, H. A., 1958, Organizations, New York:

Normann, R., 1975, Skapande företagsledning (Creative Management), Lund: Aldus.

Olve, N.-G. & Samuelsson, L. A. (eds.), 1986, Från

kostnadsberäkning till ekonomisk styrning. Fyrtio år kostnads- intäktsanalys med Paulsson Frenckner (From Cost Calculation tc Finantial Control. Forty Years of Managerial Economics with Paulsson Frenckner), Stockholm: Mekan-IFL.

Pfeffer, 5. & Salancik, G. R., 1978, The External Control of Organizations. A Resource Dependence Perspective, New York:

Harper & Row.

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Planning, New York: Wiley.


Schon, D., 1971, Beyond the Stable Temple Smith.

Silverman, D., 1970, The Theory of Heinemann.

State, London: Maurice

Organizations, London:

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(Conferences in Business Administration), Institutionen för företagsekonomi, Umeå universitet (mimeo).

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företagsekonomin" (Compendium. Introduction to Business Administration), Gothenburg School of Economics, Göteborg.

Thompson, J. D., 1967, Organizations in Action, New York:


Västhagen, N., 1950, Inkomst- och utgiftsbegreppen i förvaltningsbokföring och affärsbokföring (The Income and Expense Concepts in Publit and Business Accounting), Lund:

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European Journal of Education, 21, No.




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