A specter is haunting strategic management these days—it is the specter of competencies. This is a book on strategy and competencies, the latter being a relatively new concept that can serve to enlighten and improve theory and application of strategic management. Many firms and managers today are forced to recognize that the way things used to be done is no longer adequate to the external and internal dynamics of organizations of today and tomorrow. Strategic management has always been about matching the internal knowledge and work of the organization to the external challenges posed by its environment, as Peter Drucker pointed out almost 50 years ago (Drucker, 1958). However, today external dynamics are much greater than 50 years ago—at least it seems as if we live in a very turbulent age. Furthermore, internally, new kinds of employees demand new forms of management and work to achieve personal satisfaction from work. So the challenges are there for those of us who research, teach, and/or practice strategic management. Recently the notion of core competencies and competencies has emerged as a means of explaining competitive advantage and its creation much better than we used to.
The basis of this book is that we can use the notion of competencies to explain why some firms are more competitive than other firms with greater precision and relevance than we could before. That, of course, is one great advantage, but it is not quite enough for managers who want to create competitive advantage ahead of their competitors. Luckily, by adding a structural viewpoint to the current body of theory on competencies, we are actually able to help managers in the latter respect. We can, so to speak, open up competencies and see how they are