Strategy Forum / Panelist

Nicolai J. Foss

Copenhagen Business School


Nicolai J. Foss is a professor of strategy at the Department of Strategy and Innovation at Copenhagen Business School. He is also an honorary adjunct professor of marketing and management at Southern Denmark University and serves as external chair for the Danish Institute for Advanced Studies. Professor Foss is a member of Academia Europaea.

Voting History

Statement Response
Sanctions against Russia will cause multinational companies to consider human rights protections in supply chains more broadly. Agree “The Russian aggression against Ukraine and the war crimes that have accompanied this aggression (rather than the sanctions per se) have emphasized the need for multinational companies to conduct intensified human rights due diligence. Human rights issues in supply chains have long been seen as a key CSR challenge, and normally, multinational companies can spend considerable time performing such due diligence. However, the recent pandemic and the current war in Ukraine has underscored the need for often very swift due diligence.”
The field of strategic management has overlooked the role of corporate purpose in driving business performance. Disagree “It wouldn’t be entirely accurate to say that the field of strategic management has overlooked the role of corporate purpose (corporate goals that go beyond profits) in driving performance. For example, the role of a sustainability orientation has been investigated for quite some time. However, the relations between different goals in terms of whether they are substitutes or complements with respect to firm value is less well understood. To the extent that corporate purpose increases profitability, the mechanisms behind such an effect are ill understood. Does having pro-social corporate goals send a signal to employees that makes them engage more in helping behaviors in the workplace? Do they experience higher job satisfaction which may benefit productivity and reduce turnover?”
When hackers take data hostage, companies should pay the ransom. Neither agree nor disagree “Paying ransom is usually not illegal, but paying hackers imposes external costs on the business community (and the rest of society). Most companies are not likely to consider these costs and hence end up paying hackers. From an ethics perspective, they should not pay; however, not paying may threaten the survival of the business. Banning the practice of paying will simply be too destructive of existing business and risk criminalizing otherwise law-abiding companies. The alternative of banning the practice and setting up victim-support mechanisms introduces moral hazard (as companies may not be sufficiently incentivized to invest in avoiding hacking). The long-run solution is to impose greater costs on the perpetrators, not the victims—harsher punishment, more deterrence and prevention. ”
Relaxing the rules around physical presence in the office will improve employee productivity and firm performance. Neither agree nor disagree “In work settings with low task interdependence and individual work efforts that are easy to measure, relaxing such rules will likely improve employee productivity and firm performance mainly because more flexibility is likely to improve work motivation. The situation is more ambiguous for work settings where teamwork is very important, work standards are unclear, and productivities are hard to measure. The effect of greater flexibility on work motivation may not compensate for losses caused by difficulties of measurement, etc. ”
The COVID-19 pandemic has permanently changed how companies should think about business strategy. Agree “The COVID-19 pandemic may permanently change the relative importance of nonmarket and market strategies. Politicians have at their disposal instruments such as lockdowns and may have become more risk-averse. Companies need to develop capabilities that allow them to anticipate political responses to future disasters and influence these responses such that they become more fine-grained and less harmful to business. ”