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This time round, Professor Henrikki Tikkanen defended a doctoral dissertation in economic history

Tikkanen's doctoral studies at the University of Jyväskylä focused on organisational and naval history.
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This time, Henrikki Tikkanen graduated with a PhD degree from the University of Jyväskylä, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Professor Henrikki Tikkanen has earned a doctoral degree in history. Henrikki Tikkanen, the A. I. Virtanen Professor of Marketing and Consumer Research at the School of Business, has completed another set of doctoral studies as his long-term pastime, and earned a second doctorate. This time, he studied economic history with a focus on organisational and naval history at the University of Jyväskylä, graduating with a PhD degree from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences on 25 September 2020.

Henrikki Tikkanen’s, DSc (Econ), MSc (Econ) doctoral dissertation is titled ‘Strategic Leadership and Organizational Transformation – A Leadership History of the British Royal Navy during the ‘Fisher Era’ 1904–1919’. Professor Mairi MacLean (University of Bath) acted as the opponent and Professor Jari Ojala (University of Jyväskylä) was the custos.

In his doctoral dissertation, Professor Henrikki Tikkanen examines how an organisational regime, or the core group of key actors in power at any given time, affects the organisation’s ability to learn and implement significant strategic changes within the organisation.

The study applies key concepts of leadership theory to examine the strategic leadership of the British Royal Navy during the period 1904–1919. This period is generally known as the ‘Fisher Era’, named after Admiral of the Fleet Sir John Arbuthnot Fisher (1841–1920). Fisher was the main architect and initiator of a major technological and cultural organisational transformation in the Royal Navy that began ten years before the outbreak of the first World War.

The transformation continued in many ways during the war years as the RN learned to fight efficiently with new technological weapons such as the long-range guns of the novel Dreadnought-type capital ships, submarines, torpedoes and mines.

“Overall, the results of the study indicate that the quality of strategic leadership and the ability to control the direction of the RN varied considerably across different First Lord-First Sea Lord dyads during the period under study. There was no marked difference whether the navy was at war or not: there were both effective and ineffective regimes before and during WWI, and the onset of war did not ensure the presence of an effective regime at the top of the RN organization. The distinct organizational architecture of the RN did not guarantee the existence of efficient governance channels that would allow the organization to adapt swiftly to changing situations, either”, Henrikki Tikkanen explains.

Research in economic and business history arouses interest at the School of Business

According to Henrikki Tikkanen, one of the reasons behind his idea of studying economic and organisational history in Jyväskylä was the fact that the School of Business has not had a professorship in economic and business history for over 15 years, although research in the area attracts interest across subject boundaries. Many related discussions have taken place between professors and researchers at the School of Business. Naval history and the history of organisations in general, such as that of Nokia or different industries, are areas of long-term interest for Tikkanen.

Henrikki Tikkanen was already active at the universities preceding Aalto University: at first, he worked as a Professor of Industrial Engineering and Management at the Helsinki University of Technology in 2001–2004, and thereafter as a Professor of Business Economics in Marketing at the Helsinki School of Economics since 2004. In 2017, he was appointed the A. I. Virtanen Professor of Consumer Research, after John Schouten transferred to Canada. Tikkanen's research areas include strategic marketing and management, industry dynamics and organisational history, and his articles have been published in leading scientific journals within these fields, such as the Journal of Marketing and the Strategic Management Journal. 

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