Ansgar Richer
Ansgar Richter, professor of management at the University of Liverpool Management School defines the term complementarity

Every week a business school professor, an expert in his or her field, defines a key term on FT Lexicon, our online economics, business and finance glossary.

Our professor this week

Ansgar Richter studied philosophy, economics and industrial relations in Germany and the UK. He earned his PhD in management at the London School of Economics before joining McKinsey & Co as a management consultant in 1999. In 2002 he decided to return to academia. From 2002 to 2013 he taught at EBS Business School, Germany, where he also served as chair of the department of strategy, organisation and leadership and as vice-dean of research. He now holds a chair in management at the University of Liverpool Management School in the UK, where he teaches strategy and organisation theory. He was a visiting scholar at the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and at Insead in France.

In his research, Prof Richter focuses on the intersection between strategy, organisation and corporate governance. He has a particular interest in organisation design issues, such as the notion of complementarities in organisations, the allocation of ownership rights, incentive designs, the notion of organisational capabilities, and the interrelation between corporate strategy and organisation structure. His research in this area has been published in leading journals in his field, such as the Journal of Management, Leadership Quarterly, Journal of Organizational Behavior, and others. Much of his empirical work in this area investigates the organisation of professional service firms, such as law firms and consulting organisations. He has written extensively on the consulting sector, and has served as chair of the Management Consulting Division of the Academy of Management, the world’s largest scholarly association in the management field.

Prof Richter also provides both open enrolment and tailor-made executive education programmes on a regular basis, in particular for leaders in professional services firms, but also in the automotive, chemical and infrastructure industries. He also works closely with executives of midsized “hidden champions” both in Germany and abroad. He has taught managers in Germany, UK, US, France, India, and elsewhere. One of his current projects includes the development of a value-based strategy diagnostic tool that executives can use to assess the coherence of their companies’ strategies.

He lives with his wife and three children near Frankfurt, Germany.

Prof Richter has chosen to define complementarity

Why it is important to understand complementarity

“Is the whole more than the sum of its parts?” asks Prof Richter. He says if different aspects, or elements, of an organisation – its strategy, structure, managerial practices and so on – complement one another, the performance of the organisation as a whole will benefit.

“It is the combination of different elements, rather than the optimisation of each element on its own, that provides a lasting source of competitive advantage to firms,” says Prof Richter.

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