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Examining the Emergence and Evolution of Blue Ocean Strategy through the Lens of Management Fashion Theory


  • Dag Øivind Madsen

    () (Department of Business, Marketing and Law, School of Business, University of South-Eastern Norway, Bredalsveien 14, 3511 Hønefoss, Norway)

  • Kåre Slåtten

    () (Department of Business, Marketing and Law, School of Business, University of South-Eastern Norway, Bredalsveien 14, 3511 Hønefoss, Norway)


Blue Ocean Strategy (BOS) is a management concept which prescribes that organizations, rather than going head-to-head with competitors, try to create and exploit new market spaces, so-called blue oceans. Since its inception in the mid-2000s, BOS has become one of the most popular concepts in the field of strategy and one of the biggest buzzwords in the business world. This paper examines the emergence and evolution of BOS through the lens of management fashion theory. The analysis shows that the BOS concept exhibits several characteristics which makes it highly appealing to organizations and managers. In addition, the emergence of the concept was helped by a good fit with the zeitgeist in the field of strategy during the 2000s, which had shifted to a strong focus on theories and ideas about disruptive innovation and business model innovation. The popularization of the BOS concept can also be attributed to the backing of a powerful supply-side actors, and, in particular, the concept’s creators Kim and Mauborgne. While the attention given to BOS in public management discourse suggests that the concept can currently be considered highly fashionable, evidence about the concept’s use on the demand-side remains limited. Most surveys indicate that the adoption and diffusion is lower than would be expected based on the intensity of discourse surrounding the concept. Therefore, the current study provides some support for the view that supply-side and demand-side activity related to management fashions does not necessarily coevolve.

Suggested Citation

  • Dag Øivind Madsen & Kåre Slåtten, 2019. "Examining the Emergence and Evolution of Blue Ocean Strategy through the Lens of Management Fashion Theory," Social Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(1), pages 1-23, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jscscx:v:8:y:2019:i:1:p:28-:d:198793

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Colwyn Jones, T. & Dugdale, David, 2002. "The ABC bandwagon and the juggernaut of modernity," Accounting, Organizations and Society, Elsevier, vol. 27(1-2), pages 121-163.
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    3. Paula Jarzabkowski & Sarah Kaplan, 2015. "Strategy tools-in-use: A framework for understanding “technologies of rationality” in practice," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 36(4), pages 537-558, April.
    4. Avinash Dixit, 2014. "Strategy in History and (versus?) in Economics: A Review of Lawrence Freedman's Strategy: A History," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 52(4), pages 1119-1134, December.
    5. Aithal, Sreeramana, 2016. "The concept of Ideal Strategy and its realization using White Ocean Mixed Strategy," MPRA Paper 71770, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Cited by:

    1. Donnelly, Shannon & Gee, Liz & Silva, Emmanuel Sirimal, 2020. "UK mid-market department stores: Is fashion product assortment one key to regaining competitive advantage?," Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, Elsevier, vol. 54(C).

    More about this item


    Blue Ocean Strategy; management concept; strategy concept; emergence; evolution; popularity; management fashion;

    JEL classification:

    • A - General Economics and Teaching
    • B - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology
    • N - Economic History
    • P - Economic Systems
    • Y80 - Miscellaneous Categories - - Related Disciplines - - - Related Disciplines
    • Z00 - Other Special Topics - - General - - - General


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