Back to search


How incumbents and new entrants dynamically position themselves for optimal strategic distinctiveness by shaping and reshaping identity

Alternative title: Hvordan etablerte og nye aktører dynamisk posisjonerer seg for optimal strategisk særpreg ved å forme og omforme identitet

Awarded: NOK 1.3 mill.

Project Number:


Application Type:

Project Period:

2021 - 2025

Funding received from:


The goal of the research is enhance our knowledge of how much firms should be different and stand out from the competitors, but not so much that customer, investors, employees or other stakeholders are avoiding them. All firms are trying to stand out from the competitors by having e.g., a different visual identity, different way to communicate, maybe only on-line or only physical sales points (depending on how the industry generally is functioning), unique products, prices and so on. However, if the firm is being too radical in being different from the industry ?average?, the customer may think that the firm is opaque and so different that they don?t dear buying anything from them. The customer may retract to something ?safe? and recognizable. This differentiation is also important towards the investor community. Where do the investor find it most opportune to invest; the firm which is like all others, or someone who stands out from the crowd? How does the investor take this into account? Further, it may be that investors have a different view if the company is a start-up or has been around for many years. Finally, how will firms be able to attract the most competent employees? Is that by being different or being like the competitors, or how much different would the employees like their employer to be? Put simply, How much should firms differentiate themselves throughout their lifecycle to be relevant towards customers, investors and employees.? Is there an optimal point? We will interview business leaders, employees, investors, customers, and other relevant stakeholders to search for this optimal point of being different The project is in data collection period and follows the plan. Based on the data gathering, the data may guide us more towards the importance of strategy implementation.

The goal of the research is to supplement our present knowledge of optimal distinctiveness and organisational identity in a way that is relevant for the business community. It should provide further insight into how organisations implement adjustments, and the tools they use, to identify optimal distinctiveness by shaping and reshaping organisational identity. Or, put differently; How should companies differentiate themselves throughout their lifecycle to be relevant towards their stakeholders? The study is to expand upon existing research on strategic choices of perceived optimal distinctiveness by - probably - using the financial retail market in Europe as a basis for insight. It is the researchers view, that academic research on optimal distinctiveness, as a core part of strategic management, has to date oversimplified the continuously dynamic forces acting within the competitive field in question. As the research aims to examine multiple angles of organisational identity throughout time, the research will focus on a limited number of organisations (including both incumbents and new entrants) with the objective of obtaining a ‘360-degree’ observation. The candidate will do a multiple case study using public information and data and semi-structured interviews with multiple stakeholders. Findings and theory development will be directly relevant to the finance retail industry, and generalized (conceptual generalization) in relation to the mainstream research debate on business strategy. As there are many dependencies that are taken into account in a firm’s strategic choice of optimal distinctiveness, the research will consider which parameters to assume to be static (ceteris paribus) and limit the number of topics to maintain a balance between variations and interpretation It is the ambition that the findings will be relevant for top tier international journals and that the findings will be of great practical usage for “Corporate Norway”.

Funding scheme: