Robin Gustafsson

Professor (Associate Professor)

Research units & titles

Artistic and research interests

My research focuses on strategy and organization in industry and market disruptions (technology induced disruptions). In my research and teaching I have taken in increased focus in how digital is disrupting existing industries and markets, successful digital platform strategies, new sources of competitive advantage arising from digitalisation, open digital platforms and multi-sided platforms, and corporate digital strategies. In my research I take a longitudinal empirical approach (both historical and real-time) for investigating changes in sources of competitive advantage, changes in strategy and organization due to industry and market disruption, and the formation and shaping of strategic reasoning when an industry is going through a disruption. I teach advanced courses in strategy, platform strategy and design, digital strategy, and technology and innovation strategy at the Masters, doctoral, and MBA, EMBA level. I engage frequently with SMEs and large company managers and executives with their their strategy challenges and opportunities arising from disruption of their industry environment, especially digital disruption of industry environment and their strategy work with digital and platforms.

Currently I am working with my team and research partners on the following research project

  1. Strategy and organzinig during digital disruption of industries (Academy of Finland funded 2015-2020) Empirical and inductive theory driven research on the institutional foundations of digital disruption of industries. Specific focus on both past cases (sub-project 2 and 3) and a real time study of midium size and large machinery firms digital (platform) strategzing and organization (longitudinal study 2016-2020).

  2. Strategy and organizing of pioneering in changing industry settings and new markets  Historical empirical study on (A) strategy and organization in demutualization of stock exchange(s) (Helsinki and Stockholm), (B) deregulation of telecom sector(s) in Finland and Sweden and the strategizing of two monopolists (A & B funded by Wallenberg foundation, Konsumentverket, Helander foundation, Academy of Finland); and (C) a study on the pioneering strategizing in the biofuels field (Europe) (2004-2015)

  3. Development of digital history methods for studying strategy and organization in industry change We are developing methods and tools to work with large set of digitized archival material which are combined into a relational database through incident and relational coding. We call this method an integrative digital history approach. This work is done in the digital history consortia (DIGIHIST) with Swedish and Finnish researchers and thorugh the working with stock exchange and telecom sector archival data. In this research we develop cutting edge advanced digital history methods and approaches with relational databases for studying more rigorously strategy and organization processes that can account for firm environment effects.

  4. Narrative strategies in new markets and industry shifts (Tekes funded 2012-2015) 
    A real time research project (2012-2015) on narrative strategizing in the emergent electric vehicle and charging operarator market in Finland and US (California).

  5. Organization and managmenet of open innovation and open (industry led) research 
    A longitudinal research (2006-2014) on the the formation,governance, and organizing of Finnsh strategic centers for Science, Technology and Innovation (SHOKs), with focus on CLEEN and FIMECC

My research have been published in top tier journals, such as Academy of Management Journal, International Journal of Management Reviews, Research Policy, Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Information Systems Research, and Organization Studies. My research provides input to corporate and firm platform and digital strategy work, strategizing and organization in industry wide change, open digital platform strategzing and design, governance of open research and innovation communities, and innovation and industry policy.

More about my reserach: See the articles on this page, and this interview presenting faculty of Aalto University.



Advanced Strategic Management (TU-E1010)

Doctoral Seminar in Strategy and Venturing (TU-L1001)

Qualitative Research Methods (TU-L0030)


Current Doctoral Students 

1st supervisor: Eero Aalto, Zeerim Cheung, and Aino-Nina Saarikoski

2nd supervisor: Timo Ahopelto and Derek Selin

Supervised Doctoral Student

Kimmo Karhu (graduated 1/2017), Thesis: Managing Competitive and Cooperative Strategizing in Open PLatform Ecosystems using Boundary Resources 

Christopher Rowell (graduated 8/2017), Thesis: Signaling and Shaping Legitimacy - Weaving webs of meaning in time and new markets


Exemplary Master Theses I have supervised which can be found electronically (alt. summaries of them):


Education/Academic qualification

  • Doctor of Science (Technology), Aalto-yliopisto, Perustieteiden korkeakoulu

  • Master of Science (Technology), Mechanical Engineering, Teknillinen korkeakoulu


  • Emergence and renewal of industries, Digital disruption of industries, Strategic management of technology and innovation, Strategic management, Platform strategy and design, Narrative strategies

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