Can machines do strategy? What is entrepreneurship?

On behalf of the section for Digitalization and Entrepreneurship (DigEnt), we are thrilled to invite you to attend two guest lectures by Robert Wuebker (University of Utah David Eccles School of Business) and Russ McBride (University of California, Merced) on the topics of entrepreneurship, strategy and artificial intelligence.

Foto: Jørn Hagerup/UiO


11:15-12:00 Strategy in the age of intelligent machines

Speakers: Robert Wuebker and Russ McBride
Summary: Can a machine do strategy? The field’s default answer is no: machines cannot do ‘real’ strategy, as the work of the strategist depends on kinds of creative intelligence that machines do not and cannot possess. However, many working in artificial intelligence view the prospect of genuinely intelligent machines as an inevitability. We suggest a framing in terms of inevitability versus impossibility is unhelpful. Rather, the question we should be asking is one of discriminating alignment. Starting with a proposed typology of strategic work, we introduce a series of thought experiments exploring where machines may outperform human strategists under a conservatively construed understanding of the current state of artificial intelligence. Our inquiry suggests several deeply held intuitions about the nature of strategy itself may need updating. Those intuitions include the notion that formulating firm strategy requires a set of intellectual capabilities that only human strategists can possibly manifest; the formulation of strategy qua vision is necessarily the primarily locus of creativity, insight, and judgement; and that breakout performance requires breakthrough strategy.

12:00-12:30 Lunch

A complimentary lunch sponsored by the Section for Digitalization and Entrepreneurship will be served in-between the lectures.

12:30–13:15 ‘What is Entrepreneurship?’ is the right question

Speaker: Russ McBride
Summary: The question of what entrepreneurship is has been an enigma since the arrival of the term into the English language over 200 years ago and the largest obstacle to building a theoretical framework for the field. A historical review of the term reveals a wide variety of attempts to locate its conceptual underpinnings and the scattered results of such efforts. Many scholars are tired of the challenge and suggest ignoring the problem (option 1), thereby ignoring hope for a well-demarcated field. Attempts of the last decade have revolved around efforts to ground entrepreneurship in the concept of ‘opportunity’ (option 2), but this has resulted in increasing fragmentation and not lived up to its promise to solve the enigma. There is a third option–to take a straight run at the enigma by distilling the conceptual structure that grounds ‘entrepreneurship’ in ordinary language. The core concept, which all of us utilize in non- academic prose, is simple and elicited from subjects by asking them to assess the degree of entrepreneurship in a series of comparison cases. In contrast to scholarly discussions, ordinary use of the term is incredibly stable and consistent, and grounded in the concept of novel revenue generation. If this is correct, then the descriptive structure of the term, ‘entrepreneurship’, is clear. The prescriptive question–whether such a structure should be used to demarcate the field– is a separate (unanswered) question.

Speaker bios

Robert Wuebker is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Entrepreneurship and Strategy at the David Eccles School of Business, University of Utah. His research focuses the decision processes of startup founders and investors and how those choices influence the creation of new value and the implications for economic organization. His work has been published in Academy of Management Journal, Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, Strategic Organization, Journal of Management, Journal of Business Venturing, and Journal of Corporate Finance.

Russ McBride is an Assistant Professor at the University of California, Merced (UC’s newest campus) in the Department of the Management of Complex Systems. He did his Masters at Stanford in symbolic systems (philosophy and cognitive science) and his PhD from UC Berkeley in philosophy and cognitive science where he worked with John Searle and George Lakoff. He then spent four years as a postdoc at the University of Utah Eccles Business School working with Jay Barney. Most of his work orbits around the structure of social reality, in a field called, ‘social ontology’, as it relates to organizations and entrepreneurship. He has run the social ontology PDW at AoM for the last 5 years. He has also spent many years doing research on artificial intelligence, running a software consulting company, and working on problems in cognitive science. Current works in progress includes a book, “The Complexity of Human Behavior”, a couple of articles in a book on “Philosophy & Entrepreneurship”, an article with Todd Zenger on evolutionary approaches in strategy, and a forthcoming journal in debate-only format covering issues in strategy, organizations, and entrepreneurship.



If you find the above interesting and relevant, please register by Wednesday, May 30.
Time and place: Monday 4 June 2018, 11:15 | Ole-Johan Dahls Hus

Published May 16, 2018 12:51 PM - Last modified May 16, 2018 5:18 PM