Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 99, Supplement 1, pp 121-130

First online:

Conventional Resource-Based Theory and its Radical Alternative: A Less Materialist-Individualist Approach to Strategy

  • Geoffrey G. BellAffiliated withDepartment of Management Studies, Labovitz School of Business and Economics, University of Minnesota Duluth Email author 
  • , Bruno DyckAffiliated withDepartment of Business Administration, I.H. Asper School of Business

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Management scholars, practitioners, and policy makers alike have sought to develop a deeper understanding of recent business crises—including corporate scandals, the collapse of financial institutions, and deep recession—in order to prevent their recurrence. Among the “culprits” that have been identified is Conventional management theory based upon a moral-point-of-view founded on assumptions of materialism and individualism. There have been calls to move beyond the dominant profit maximization paradigm and think about other, potentially more compelling, corporate objectives (Hamel, 2009). In this article, we respond to those calls, and seek to develop what we call Radical resource-based theory (RBT), which draws from and contrasts with the highly-influential Conventional RBT. Radical RBT defines the value of resources more broadly than profit maximization, rarity as an occasion for stewardship, inimitability as an opportunity for teaching, and non-substitutability as an opportunity to meet a panoply of human needs. This augmentation of RBT promises to help managers and scholars address a myriad of problems that are insoluble under Conventional assumptions. More generally, it shows the value of broadening management theory to a radical perspective by relaxing assumptions of self-interest and materialism.


Materialism Individualism Radical management Resource-based theory Weber Aristotle