Proven Leader: Samina Karim


Samina Karim
Associate Professor, Entrepreneurship and Innovation
PhD University of Michigan

Karim is an expert in organization design, acquisitions and alliances, and the reconfiguration and redeployment of resources and activities. Her research has a particular focus on application to the business sector and can be applied across most industries.

She has been published in a wide array of top journals, including the Strategic Management Journal where she is an associate editor. Karim is also a senior editor at the Journal of Organization Design and program chair for the Competitive Strategy Interest Group at the Strategic Management Society.

Her current research projects examine how firms can make better decisions about resource deployment across different tasks given the varied characteristics of both resource fungibility and task decentralization. She is also exploring how changing resource dependencies on alliance partners may influence a firm to change their alliance partners.

Q: What are your areas of expertise/research focus?

Organization design, reconfiguration and redeployment of resources and activities, acquisitions and alliances.

Q: What industries are or could be impacted by your research?

My research is generalizable to most industries. My past studies have examined the entire medical marketplace, including numerous industries within the healthcare, pharmaceutical, and medical device sectors.

Q: What research projects are you currently working on or planning?

Current research projects are mainly in two areas. First, I am studying alliance portfolios and how firms’ changing resource dependencies on alliance partners may influence firms’ changing their choice of alliance partners. Second, I am examining how firms can make better decisions about resource redeployment across different tasks given the varied characteristics of both resource fungibility and task decentralization.

Q: What are some of your most seminal publications?

Karim, S., & Mitchell, W. (2000). Path-dependent and path-breaking change: Reconfiguring business resources following acquisitions in the U.S. medical sector, 1978-1995. Strategic Management Journal, 21(10-11), 1061-1081.

In this paper we find that acquisitions play a major role in helping firms to reconfigure their resources. This occurs in two distinct ways – either by resource deepening upon their existing market activities (i.e. path dependent change) or by extending resources in very distinct markets (i.e. path-breaking change). Further, those firms that are acquisition active create more innovations that are new to an industry than do non-acquirers.

Karim, S. (2006). Modularity in organizational structure: The reconfiguration of internally developed and acquired business units. Strategic Management Journal, 27(9), 799-823.

This study presents multidivisional firms as a composition of modular units, and observes the specific roles of acquired versus internally developed business units. There are key distinctions between these units. Acquired units are more often reconfigured with other units than are internally developed units and often serve to provide key ingredients to the internal units. Further, reconfigured units are often reconfigured again before divestiture, revealing firms’ attempts to create value. As expected, acquired units are more likely reconfigured however a comparison of the two types of units reveals that they face similar likelihoods only after 10 years – indicating that it takes nearly a decade for an acquisition to be truly integrated in a firm such that it is not distinguishable from an internally developed unit.

Karim, S. (2009). Business unit reorganization and innovation in new product markets. Management Science, 55(7),1237-1254.

This paper examines how business unit reorganization (namely through recombinations) are associated with innovation by firms into new product markets. Reorganization is found to exhibit a U-shape relationship with innovation, supporting learning arguments that stress the importance of experiencing a cohort of multiple events. Further, only reorganization experiences within a current period (not past experiences) effect future innovation, implying that firms may face constraints in organizational memory. Lastly, most innovations originate from reorganized units that contain some internally developed portion – indicating the importance of firms investing in these business units and not relying purely on an acquisition strategy.

Q: What are some awards that you have received?
  • Best Conference Paper Prize Nominee, Strategic Management Society Annual Conference (2014).
  • Professor of the Year Award (MBA Cohort A), Boston University Questrom School of Business (2013).
  • Faculty Graduate Commencement Speaker, Boston University Questrom School of Business (2013).
  • Favorite Professor, Poets & Quants "The Top MBAs Name Their Favorite Business School Professors", (2015).