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Business schools’ competitive strategies: whose goals, which aims?

Anu M. Ojala (Jyväskylä University School of Business and Economics, Jyvaskylan Yliopisto, Jyvaskyla, Finland)

Management Research Review

ISSN: 2040-8269

Article publication date: 10 May 2019

Issue publication date: 16 August 2019




This study reviews the literature on business-school (b-school) competition and competitiveness to extend our understanding of b-schools’ competitive strategies.


Both content and network analysis were used in the examination of the scholarly discourse.


The analyses distinguish three literature streams. The first concentrates on resources, capabilities and competencies; the second focuses on measures of competitiveness; and the third includes competitive dynamics and strategy discourse. The analysis shows that the conceptions of competitiveness are quite coherent concerning resources, capabilities and competencies. However, in the “measures of competitiveness” and “industry dynamics and strategy,” discourses were more diverse, indicating greater ambiguity in how the core competencies, capabilities and resources are portrayed as competitiveness outside the institutions. The literature suggests that the measures and indicators of competitiveness are ambiguous to external stakeholders and, furthermore, reflect institutional goal ambiguity.


The question of how, and to what extent, increasing competition in management education and research catalyzes unwelcome changes in the industry has been of great concern to management educators and scholars. This has given rise to a considerable body of literature referring to b-school competition. Despite its topicality, this discourse has remained theoretically fragmented and separate from the mainstream strategy literature. Therefore, this study provides a review and critical discussion of the current state of research on b-school competition, as well as proposes avenues for future research and tools for strategic management of b-schools.



The author would like to thank editor Lerong He and the anonymous reviewers for the insightful comments and guidance throughout the process, as well as Juha-Antti Lamberg and Kimmo Alajoutsijärvi for their insightful comments on the manuscript. Furthermore, the author like to acknowledge the financial support of the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation and the Foundation for Economic Education.


Ojala, A.M. (2019), "Business schools’ competitive strategies: whose goals, which aims?", Management Research Review, Vol. 42 No. 8, pp. 954-970.



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