Drawing on Social network theory, this article argues for enhancing effects of social capital of entrepreneurs on investment selection decisions of venture capitalists (to invest versus not to invest), and main effects of social capital on investment process decisions such as venture valuation, investment delivery speed and contractual warrants/provisions. The core idea of enhancing effects is that the presence of particularistic ties between venture capitalists and entrepreneurs will affect positively investment selection decisions of venture capitalists if only other main factors for investment making such as management team, industry, market attractiveness, proprietary technologies and products are perceived as strong by investors. The context of the study is People's Republic of China. The empirical data is composed of 158 venture capital investment decisions in Beijing and Shanghai. The main finding is that social capital is supplementary and additive to other investment determining factors such as project and team qualities at selection stage, and social capital is a main factor for investment process decisions once a venture has been selected for funding. The main theoretical implication is that social capital may affect outcome variables in interaction with other factors. The main practical implication for entrepreneurs is that social capital is probably necessary but insufficient for raising venture capital successfully.
This paper illustrates how a learning-curve model can be generalized to investigate potential explanations of organizational learning. The paper examines the hypothesis that knowledge acquired through by learning by doing is embodied in an organization's technology by analyzing the amount of transfer that occurs across shifts within a plant. If knowledge becomes completely embodied in technology, transfer across shifts should be complete since both shifts use the same technology. Methods that can be used for studying intra-plant transfer of knowledge are presented. The methods are illustrated by analyzing data from a plant that began production with one shift and then added a second shift several months into the production program. Three aspects of transfer are analyzed: (1) carry forward of knowledge when the plant makes the transition from one to two shifts, (2) transfer across shifts after both shifts are operating, and (3) transfer across time. Results indicate that substantial, but less than complete, transfer of knowledge occurred when the second shift was introduced. Once both shifts were operating, partial transfer across them occurred. Implications of the results for a theory of organizational learning and practical applications are discussed.
When companies decide to engage in technology transfer through exclusive licensing to other firms, they have two basic options: to use standard licensing contracts or to set-up more elaborate partnership-embedded licensing agreements. We find that broader partnership-embedded licensing agreements are preferred with higher levels of technological sophistication of industries, with greater perceived effectiveness of secrecy as a means of appropriability, and when licensors are smaller than their licensees. Innovative differential between companies, innovative supremacy of the licensor and market and technological overlap between partners appear to have no effect on the preference for a particular form of licensing. Copyright 2009 , Oxford University Press.
Prior studies have emphasized that structural attributes are crucial to simultaneously pursuing exploration and exploitation, yet our understanding of antecedents of ambidexterity is still limited. Structural differentiation can help ambidextrous organizations to maintain multiple inconsistent and conflicting demands; however, differentiated exploratory and exploitative activities need to mobilized, coordinated, integrated, and applied. Based on this idea, we delineate formal and informal senior team integration mechanisms (i.e. contingency rewards and social integration) and formal and informal organizational integration mechanisms (i.e. cross-functional interfaces and connectedness) and examine how they mediate the relationship between structural differentiation and ambidexterity. Overall, our findings suggest that the previously asserted direct effect of structural differentiation on ambidexterity operates through informal senior team (i.e. senior team social integration) and formal organizational (i.e. cross-functional interfaces) integration mechanisms. Through this richer explanation and empirical assessment, we contribute to a greater clarity and better understanding of how organizations may effectively pursue exploration and exploitation simultaneously to achieve ambidexterity.
This paper examines the link between organizational culture and effectiveness for foreign-owned firms operating in Russia. Beginning with a model of organizational culture developed in the USA, the paper presents a multi-method analysis of culture and effectiveness in a transition economy. We argue that effectiveness in Russia relies more on adaptability and flexibility than in the USA. Furthermore, the legacy of the communist era forces firms in Russia to deal with a workforce with a unique time perspective and a unique set of sub-cultures that often undermine attempts at coordination and integration. We first explore these ideas using survey data on 179 foreign-owned firms operating in Russia and compare the results to those obtained for firms in the USA. We then present four case studies designed to ground the results in the Russian context, and to document cultural dynamics not captured by the model.
The â€œkeiretsuâ€ structuring of assembler-supplier relations historically enabled Japanese auto assemblers to remain lean and flexible while enjoying a level of control over supply akin to that of vertical integration. Yet there is much talk currently of breakdown in keiretsu networks. This paper examines some recent developments in Japanese parts supply keiretsu. We argue that keiretsu relationships are drifting from â€œhybridâ€ or â€œnetworkâ€ (i.e., keiretsu) governance modes toward the extremes of arms-length contracting and top-down administration. These changes are best understood through a combination of transaction cost and learning perspectives on alliance. Consistent with transaction cost economics, the shift in purchase - supply relationships can be traced to changes in the nature of parts transactions and keiretsu governance structures. A learning perspective on alliance complements and extends transaction cost theory, providing additional explanation of the sources of change and the specific governance choices being made. Our first two cases document a drift in Toyotaâ€™s keiretsu supply network toward hierarchical form in the management of parts supply transactions. Toyota has effectively internalized its transactions with Daihatsu by taking a controlling interest. Toyotaâ€™s strategy toward long-term partner Denso, on the other hand, was very different. Toyota built from the ground up an in-house capability in electronic componentsâ€”thus (particularly at the high end) buying less from and scaling down its dependence on Denso. A third case considers a general trend in the Japanese auto industry toward greater standardization of parts. With the routinization of quality, reliability, and speed in supply management the need for keiretsu-style governance has declined. The withering of keiretsu obligations is also traceable to globalization and the continuing weakness of the Japanese economy, which have prompted Japanes
This paper examines the organizational arrangements used by New Biotechnology Firms (NBFs) to source scientific knowledge. Using data from two highly successful NBFs, the paper shows that both firms relied principally on hierarchies and networks to source scientific knowledge; market arrangements were insignificant. Most interesting, each firm had a very large, diversified set of boundary-spanning collaborative research arrangements, mostly involving university scientists. It is argued that these external research networks enabled the two firms studied to compete more successfully in a highly turbulent and highly competitive industry environment.
According to the advocates of a "Generalized Darwinism" (GD), the three core Darwinian principles of variation, selection and retention (or inheritance) can be used as a general framework for the development of theories explaining evolutionary processes in the socioeconomic domain. Even though these are originally biological terms, GD argues that they can be re-defined in such a way as to abstract from biological particulars. We argue that this approach does not only risk to misguide positive theory development, but that it may also impede the construction of a coherent evolutionary approach to "policy implications". This is shown with respect to the positive, instrumental and normative theories such an approach is supposed to be based upon.
The principles of open collaboration for innovation (and production), once
distinctive to open source software, are now found in many other ventures. Some
of these ventures are internet-based: Wikipedia, online forums and communities.
Others are off-line: in medicine, science, and everyday life. Such ventures
have been affecting traditional firms, and may represent a new organizational
form. Despite the impact of such ventures, questions remain about their
operating principles and performance. Here we define open collaboration (OC),
the underlying set of principles, and propose that it is a robust engine for
innovation and production. First, we review multiple OC ventures and identify
four defining principles. In all instances, participants create goods and
services of economic value, they exchange and reuse each other's work, they
labor purposefully with just loose coordination, and they permit anyone to
contribute and consume. These principles distinguish OC from other
organizational forms, such as firms or cooperatives. Next, we turn to
performance. To understand the performance of OC, we develop a computational
model, combining innovation theory with recent evidence on human cooperation.
We identify and investigate three elements that affect performance: the
cooperativeness of participants, the diversity of their needs, and the degree
to which the goods are rival (subtractable). Through computational experiments,
we find that OC performs well even in seemingly harsh environments: when
cooperators are a minority, free riders are present, diversity is lacking, or
goods are rival. We conclude that OC is viable and likely to expand into new
domains. The findings also inform the discussion on new organizational forms,
collaborative and communal.
In this paper we suggest that the use of computer-mediated communication technologies in new and fluid organizations can be facilitated by the explicit and ongoing adapting of those technologies to changing contexts of use. In an exploratory study on the use of a computer conferencing system in an R&D setting, we found that the new medium's effectiveness was significantly influenced by the intervention of a few individuals who took on a role we label technology-use mediation. These mediators shaped everyday use of the conferencing technology, modifying the technology as well as the context of use to promote effective electronic communication. Drawing on the insights of this empirical study, we develop a theoretical framework that views technology-use mediation as influencing how users structure their communication technologies, and hence as one form of metastructuring. We believe that the role of technology-use mediation constitutes a valuable mechanism for providing the ongoing attention and resources needed to contextualize what are often generic computer-mediated communication technologies to the shifting conditions of dynamic organizational forms.
A growing body of research in management and related public policy fields concludes that the 1980s and 1990s saw greater dynamic competition throughout technology-intensive ("TI") industries, with wide-spread, steady increase in TI industry and business performance instability as principal consequences. We test for evidence of these consequences in a large sample of US businesses operating from 1978-1997 in 31 industries with high average R&D expenditure-to-sales ratios. In the full sample, we find no evidence of sustained increase in TI industry and business performance instability, nor any evidence of significant cross-sectional differences in performance instability between TI and non-TI industry businesses over these 20 years. For a small segment of very high-performing businesses from TI industries, however, we do uncover evidence of both significantly declining performance stability as well as evidence of significant cross-sectional differences in performance stability compared to similarly high-performing businesses from non-TI industries over 20 years. We conclude that assumptions of wide-spread, long-term increase in dynamic competition lack robust evidentiary support. It is premature to embrace and apply broadly new theoretical perspectives, management practices and public policies to TI industry competitive dynamics that may be little changed since the late 1970s. Yet, we find evidence of increasing dynamic competition within the strict boundary conditions of very high-performing TI industry businesses. Careful application of new perspectives, practices and policies within these boundary conditions may contribute significantly and substantially to explanations of business behavior and performance in TI industries.
Excess entry – or the high failure rate of market-entry decisions – is often attributed to overconfidence exhibited by entreprene urs. We show analytically that whereas excess entry is an inevitable consequence of imperfect assessments of entrepreneurial skill, it does not imply overconfidence. Judgmental fallibility leads to excess entry even when everyone is underconfident. Self-selection implies greater confidence (but not necessarily overconfidence) among those who start new businesses than those who do not and among successful entrants than failures. Our results question claims that “entrepreneurs are overconfident” and emphasize the need to understand the role of judgmental fallibility in producing economic outcomes.
Infusing hierarchies with elements of market control has become a much-used way of simultaneously increasing entrepreneurialism and motivation in firms. However, this paper argues that such "internal hybrids," particularly in their radical forms, are inherently hard to successfully design and implement, because of fundamental credibility problems related to managerial promises to not intervene in delegated decision-making > an incentive problem that is often referred to as the "problem of selective intervention." This theoretical theme is developed and illustrated, using the case of the world-leading Danish hearing aids producer, Oticon. In the beginning of the 1990s, Oticon became famous for its radical internal hybrid, the "spaghetti organization." Recent work has interpreted the spaghetti organization as a radical attempt to foster dynamic capabilities by imposing loose coupling on the organization, neglecting, however, that about a decade later, the spaghetti organization has given way to a more traditional matrix organization. This paper presents an organizational economics interpretation of organizational changes in Oticon, and argues that a strong liability of the spaghetti organization was the above incentive problem. Motivation in Oticon was strongly harmed by selective intervention on the part of top-management Changing the organizational structure was one means of repairing these motivational problems. Refutable implications are developed, both for the understanding of efficient design of internal hybrids, and for the more general issue of the distinction between firms and markets, as well as the choice between internal and external hybrids.
Using data from a novel laboratory experiment on complex problem solving in which we varied the structure of 16-person networks, we investigate how an organization’s network structure shapes performance of problem-solving tasks. Problem solving, we argue, involves both exploration for information and exploration for solutions. Our results show that network clustering has opposite effects for these two important and complementary forms of exploration. Dense clustering encourages members of a network to generate more diverse information, but discourages them from generating diverse theories; in the language of March (1991), clustering promotes exploration in information space, but decreases exploration in solution space. Previous research, generally focusing on only one of those two spaces at a time, has produced an inconsistent understanding of the value of network clustering. By adopting an experimental platform on which information was measured separately from solutions, we bring disparate results under a single theoretical roof and clarify the effects of network clustering on problem-solving behavior and performance. The finding both provides a sharper tool for structuring organizations for knowledge work and reveals challenges inherent in manipulating network structure to enhance performance, as the communication structure that helps one determinant of successful problem solving may harm the other.
Grammar has been used metaphorically to describe organizational processes, but the metaphor has never been systematically developed so that it can be applied in empirical research. This paper develops the grammatical metaphor into a rigorous model for describing and theorizing about organizational work processes, defined here as sequences of actions that occur in the context of enabling and constraining structures. A grammatical model starts with a lexicon of elementary actions (called moves) and specifies the ways in which they can be combined to create a process. Unlike other sequential data analysis techniques, grammatical models provide a natural way of describing the layering and nesting of actions that typifies organizational processes. The example of a simple retail sales transaction is used to illustrate the underlying concepts. The paper also examines some methodological considerations involved in using process grammars and proposes an agenda for research , including: (1) creating descriptive taxonomies of organizational processes; (2) creating disconfirmable theories about the relationship between processes and the structures that enable and constrain them; (3) explaining the distribution of observed processes and predicting new processes that have not yet been observed; and (4) designing new organizational processes. KEYWORDS: Grammars; Process models; Business processes; Sequential analysis.
I modify the uniform-price auction rules in allowing the seller to ration bidders. This allows me to provide a strategic foundation for underpricing when the seller has an interest in ownership dispersion. Moreover, many of the so-called "collusive-seeming" equilibria disappear.
This study presents a new model of search on a “rugged landscape,” which employs modeling techniques from fractal geometry rather than the now-familiar NK modeling technique. In our simulations,firms search locally in a two-dimensional fitness landscape, choosing moves in a way that responds both to local payoff considerations and to a more global sense of opportunity represented by a firm-specific “preferred direction.” The latter concept provides a very simple device for introducing cognitive or motivational considerations into the formal account of search behavior, alongside payoff considerations. After describing the objectives and the structure of the model, we report a first experiment which explores how the ruggedness of the landscape affects the interplay of local payoff and cognitive considerations (preferred direction) in search. We show that an intermediate search strategy, combining the guidance of local search with a moderate level of non-local “obsession,” is distinctly advantageous in searching a rugged landscape. We also explore the effects of other considerations, including the objective validity of the preferred direction and the degree of dispersion of firm strategies. We conclude by noting available features of the model that are not exercised in this experiment. Given the inherent flexibility of the model, the range of questions that might potentially be explored is extremely large.
We develop a dynamic cognitive model of network activation and show that people at different status levels spontaneously activate, or call to mind, different subsections of their networks when faced with job threat. Using a multi-method approach (General Social Survey data and a laboratory experiment), we find that, under conditions of job threat, people with low status exhibit a winnowing response (i.e., activating smaller and tighter subsections of their networks), whereas people with high status exhibit a widening response (i.e., activating larger and less dense subsections of their networks). We integrate traditional network theories with cognitive psychology, suggesting that cognitively activating social networks is a pre-condition to mobilizing them. One implication is that narrowing the network in response to threat might reduce low-status group members’ access to new information, harming their chances of finding subsequent employment and exacerbating social inequality.
Two competing predictions about the effect of status on performance appear in the organizational theory and sociological literatures. On the one hand, various researchers have posited that status elevates levels of performance. This line of work emphasizes tangible and intangible resources that accrue to occupants of high-status positions and thus pictures status as an asset. On the other hand, a second line of work emphasizes complacency and distraction as deleterious processes that plague occupants of high-status positions and thus portrays status as a liability. Which of these two approaches best characterizes the actual performance of individuals in a market setting? And are these views in any way reconcilable? In this article, we summarize the two views and test them in two empirical settings: the Professional Golf Association (PGA) and the National Association for Stock Car Racing (NASCAR). Using panel data on the PGA Tour, we model golfers’ strokes from par in each competition as a function of their status in the sport. Using similar data on NASCAR’s Winston Cup Series, we model drivers’ speed in the qualifying round as a function of their status in the sport. We find curvilinear effects of status in both empirical settings. Performance improves with status - until a very high level of status is reached, after which performance wanes. This result not only concurs with the view that status brings tangible and intangible resources, but also provides empirical support for the contention that status fosters dispositions and behaviors that undermine performance.
This research addresses the tensions that arise between the collection and use of personal information that people provide in the course of most consumer transactions, and privacy. In today's electronic world, the competitive strategies of successful firms increasingly depend on vast amounts of customer data. Ironically, the same information practices that provide value to organizations also raise privacy concerns for individuals. This study hypothesized that organizations can address these privacy concerns and gain business advantage through customer retention by observing procedural fairness: customers will be willing to disclose personal information and have that information subsequently used to create consumer profiles for business use when there are fair procedures in place to protect individual privacy. Because customer relationships are characterized by social distance, customers must depend on strangers to act on their behalf. Procedural fairness serves as an intermediary to bu...
This paper introduces and empirically explores the concept of an organizational reference group: the set of people an individual perceives as belonging to his or her work environment that defines the social world of work in which he or she engages. The concept is proposed to fill a gap in studies of social context. Scholars tend only to infer, not identify, the people an individual is aware of at work. This surmise creates no problem in groups or small organizations where everyone knows everyone else. However, it becomes troublesome in large organizations where the set of people one individual discerns may vary considerably from that of another. Social network studies of large organizations examine people an individual perceives, but focus on interpersonal communication through salient relationships. They tend to neglect the many distant others who populate an individual's social context: those known only through company newsletters or office gossip, those with whom the individual never has contact, and those who carry little immediate salience. Data from a large organization are used to explore whether organizational reference groups provide distinct, useful information about individuals' perceptions of their social context at work. The findings replicate those showing individuals' preferences for similar others, but also note previously unobserved systematic differences in the composition of close associations compared to the broader ones of organizational reference groups. Distant associations are considerably more homogeneous than close ones. Moreover, the results show that organizational reference groups illuminate career referent selection and expected achievement beyond what would be learned from a typical social network analysis. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
This paper begins to answer the call to broaden current theories of individual decision-making by including in them the effects of human mood. Grounding our arguments in psychological literature on the effects of mood on information processing, motivation, and decision heuristics, we develop hypotheses about how mood can significantly affect individuals' use of structured decision protocols. In support of our hypotheses, results from an experimental study of complex decision-making suggest that, in situations where a structured decision protocol is the usual method of decision-making, individuals in moderately negative moods are significantly more likely than those in moderately positive moods to: (1) carefully execute all the steps of a structured decision protocol, (2) execute the steps of a structured decision protocol in the correct order, and (3) rely on the outcome of the structured decision protocol as the primary basis for the decision. We discuss these findings in terms of the...
Reviews research in psychology, sociology, and organizational behavior to develop a conceptual framework that specifies how positive emotion (PE) helps employees obtain favorable outcomes at work. It is proposed that feeling and expressing PEs on the job have favorable consequences on (1) employees, independent of their relationships with others (e.g., greater persistence); (2) reactions of others to employees (e.g., "halo," or overgeneralization to other desirable traits); and (3) reactions of employees to others (e.g., helping others). Results from an 18-mo study of 272 employees indicate that PE on the job at Time 1 is associated with evidence of work achievement (more favorable supervisor evaluations and higher pay) and a supportive social context (more support from supervisors and coworkers) at Time 2. PE at Time 1 is not significantly associated with job enrichment at Time 2. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
This paper theoretically and empirically engages the relationship between organizational identity and deception using the market for early jazz recordings as a setting. In this setting, pseudonyms (where a recording is reissued under a fictitious name) were used deceptively as a way to preserve a firm's identity while selling profitable but identity-threatening products to the mass market. Firms founded in the Victorian Era actively sought alignment with the cultural elite and used pseudonyms to deceive observers into believing that their production of cultural products was consistent with their Victorian Era identity. In effect, pseudonyms allowed these firms to decouple their position in identity space from their position in product space by inflating production of identity-preserving products. Using product data from jazz discographies, record company directories, and record advertisements in major U.S. newspapers, we provide strong empirical evidence that Victorian Era firms were active in using pseudonyms to preserve their identities.
This paper explores how governance form affects the organizational capacity for adaptation. We make a general case about the importance of governance in adaptation, and we identify three mechanisms through which governance form may affect organizations' ability to manage the competency and failure traps that often frustrate the process. We look for evidence of these mechanisms through a study of the U.S. Savings and Loan (S&L) industry in the 1980s. This is an apt context because S&Ls were confronted by severe environmental changes that suggested a need for change of a relatively radical sort during this decade and because the industry contains a mix of governance forms (stock form firms and mutual associations). We examine whether mutuals and stocks differed in their propensity to move away from their traditional business and mission of residential mortgage lending in response to the challenges of the 1980s. We also consider whether stocks and mutuals differed in their performance outcomes during this decade. Results indicate that mutuals were slightly less prone toward change but were in no sense inertial. They also show that mutuals performed better overall and appeared to change more successfully than did stock firms. The overall pattern of results suggests that mutual governance was a resource that allowed S&Ls to better balance exploration and exploitation in the face of a changing and ambiguous environment. We consider the broader implications of these findings for research on organizational adaptation, governance form, and governance more generally.
We draw upon institutional theory to investigate the interactive influences of institutional mechanisms—coercive, mimetic, and normative—on the diffusion of a controversial and socially stigmatized practice, same-sex partner health benefits, in Fortune 500 corporations between 1990 and 2003. Given the social stigma associated with domestic partnerships of lesbians and gay men during the period of the study, the provision of these benefits was highly controversial and induced intense contestation between proponents and opponents of the institution of equal treatment for lesbian and gay employees. We explore the diffusion of theses benefits using data on cumulative adoptions by similar others, state laws forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation, and overall tenor in press coverage of the benefits. Our analysis shows that the cumulative number of adoptions within industry increased the positive effect of state laws on the corporation's decision to provide the benefits. However, the cumulative number of adoptions in the state of the corporation's headquarters decreased the positive effects of both state laws and overall tenor in press coverage on such a decision. Accordingly, our study contributes to institutional theory by pointing to complex interactive influences of institutional mechanisms on the institutionalization of contested practices, and to the literature on lesbian and gay issues in the workplace by studying factors influencing organizational decisions to adopt policies supportive of lesbian and gay employees.
The strategy-structure-performance (SSP) paradigm has developed a central role within strategy research. However, recent critiques of the paradigm have called for research that uses more appropriate measures of strategy and structure, inductive methods that enable richer exploration of the paradigm, and extension of the paradigm to the expert-focused organizations that have grown in importance since the paradigm was first developed. This paper answers this call by integrating inductive methods with quantitative analysis of a unique panel data set of 317 professional services firms (PSFs) to find new measures of strategy and to understand their linkages to organizational structure within such firms. It shows how the core knowledge required for decision making and the coordination challenges in these firms drive their internal structures and that the degree of strategy-structure fit has important performance implications for those firms.
Theories matter because they affect behavior and can, under certain circumstances, become self-fulfilling. For a theory to become self-fulfilling, people must be aware of the theory and have the ability to make choices according to its dictates, social and physical arrangements are altered on the basis of the theory's prescriptions, and the proponents have the power to implement social arrangements consistent with the theory. Economics and other social science theories often fulfill these conditions, with implications not only for the work of scholars, but also for how we think about testing theories that can change the world they describe.
This paper explores the trade-offs inherent in the pursuit and fulfillment of multiple performance goals in complex organizations. We examine two related research questions: (1) What are the organizational implications of pursuing multiple performance ...
On September 11, 2001, the passengers and crew members aboard Flight 93 responded to the hijacking of their airplane by organizing a counterattack against the hijackers. The airplane crashed into an unpopulated field, causing no damage to human lives or national landmarks beyond the lives of those aboard the airplane. We draw on this story of courageous collective action to explore the question of what makes this kind of action possible. We propose that to take courageous collective action, people need three narratives---a personal narrative that helps them understand who they are beyond the immediate situation and manage the intense emotions that accompany duress, a narrative that explains the duress that has been imposed upon them sufficiently to make moral and practical judgments about how to act, and a narrative of collective action---and the resources that make the creation of these narratives feasible. We also consider how the creation of these narratives is relevant to courageous collective action in more common organizational circumstances, and identify how this analysis suggests new insights into our understanding of the core framing tasks of social movements, ways in which social movement actors draw on social infrastructure, the role of discourse and morality in social movements, the formation of collective identity, and resource mobilization.
The purpose of this Perspective Paper is to advance understanding of absorptive capacity, its underlying dimensions, its multi-level antecedents, its impact on firm performance and the contextual factors that affect absorptive capacity. Nineteen years after the Cohen and Levinthal 1990 paper, the field is characterized by a wide array of theoretical perspectives and a wealth of empirical evidence. In this paper, we first review these underlying theories and empirical studies of absorptive capacity. Given the size and diversity of the absorptive capacity literature, we subsequently map the existing terrain of research through a bibliometric analysis. The resulting bibliometric cartography shows the major discrepancies in the organization field, namely that (1) most attention so far has been focused on the tangible outcomes of absorptive capacity; (2) organizational design and individual level antecedents have been relatively neglected in the absorptive capacity literature; and (3) the emergence of absorptive ccapacity from the actions and interactions of individual, organizational and inter-organizational antecedents remains unclear. Building on the bibliometric analysis, we develop an integrative model that identifies the multi-level antecedents, process dimensions, and outcomes of absorptive capacity as well as the contextual factors that affect absorptive capacity. We argue that realizing the potential of the absorptive capacity concept requires more research that shows how “micro antecedents” and “macroantecedents” influence future outcomes such as competitive advantage, innovation, and firm performance. In particular, we identify conceptual gaps that may guide future research to fully exploit the absorptive capacity concept in the organization field and to explore future fruitful extensions of the concept.
The 20 years following the introduction of the seminal construct of absorptive capacity (AC) by Cohen and Levinthal (Cohen, W. M., D. A. Levinthal. 1989. Innovation and learning: The two faces of R&D. Econom. J. 99(397) 569—596; Cohen, W. M., D. A. Levinthal. 1990. Absorptive capacity: A new perspective on learning and innovation. Admin. Sci. Quart. 35(1) 128—152) have seen the proliferation of a vast literature citing the AC construct in over 10,000 published papers, chapters, and books, and interpreting it or applying it in many areas of organization science research, including organization theory, strategic management, and economics. However, with very few exceptions, the specific organizational routines and processes that constitute AC capabilities remain a black box. In this paper, we propose a routine-based model of AC as a first step toward the operationalization of the AC construct. Our intent is to direct attention to the importance of balancing internal knowledge creating processes with the identification, acquisition, and assimilation of new knowledge originating in the external environment. We decompose the construct of AC into two components, internal and external AC capabilities, and identify the configuration of metaroutines underlying these two components. These higher-level routines are expressed within organizations by configurations of empirically observable practiced routines that are idiosyncratic and firm specific. Therefore, we conceptualize metaroutines as the foundations of practiced routines. The ability of organizations to discover and implement complementarities between AC routines may explain why some firms are successful early adopters and most firms are imitators. Success as an early adopter of a new management practice or an innovation is expected to depend on the extent to which an organization evolves, adapts, and implements the configuration of its internal and external absorptive capacity routines.
firm's organizational and technological boundaries are two important demarcation lines when sourcing for technol- ogy. Based on this theoretical lens, four possible combinations of exploration and exploitation emerge. Applying an ambidexterity perspective to a firm's technology sourcing strategy, we hypothesize that a curvilinear relationship exists between a firm's technology sourcing mix and its performance. We further introduce a contingency element by propos- ing that a firm's absorptive capacity exerts a positive moderating effect on this relationship. We empirically test these hypotheses on a random, multi-industry sample of U.S. manufacturing companies. We find support for the notion that the relationship between technology sourcing mix and firm performance is an inverted U-shape. Moreover, higher levels of absorptive capacity allow a firm to more fully capture the benefits resulting from ambidexterity in technology sourcing.
This study explores the process of organizational change by examining localized social learning in organizational subunits. Specifically, we examine participation in university technology transfer, a new organizational initiative, by tracking 1,780 faculty members, examining their backgrounds and work environments, and following their engagement with academic entrepreneurship. We find that individual adoption of the new initiative may be either substantive or symbolic. Our results suggest that individual attributes, while important, are conditioned by the local work environment. In terms of personal attributes, individuals are more likely to participate if they trained at institutions that had accepted the new initiative and been active in technology transfer. In addition, we find that the longer the time that had elapsed since graduate training, the less likely the individual was to actively embrace the new commercialization norm. Considering the localized social environment, we find that when the chair of the department is active in technology transfer, other members of the department are also likely to participate, if only for symbolic reasons. We also find that technology transfer behavior is calibrated by the experience of those in the relevant cohort. If an individual can observe others with whom they identify engaging in the new initiative, then they are more likely to follow with substantive compliance. Finally, when individuals face dissonance, a situation where their individual training norms are not congruent with the localized social norms in their work environment, they will conform to the local norms, rather than adhering to the norms from their prior experience.
This paper addresses the issues of rigor and relevance in organizational studies in the context of idea migration and journal evolution. The paper argues that creeping parochialism can happen to any journal, which reflects the evolving narrowness within boundaries of academic sub-communities. Evidence suggests that ideas do migrate across academic sub-communities, although the underlying process is not well understood and the idea flow is not symmetrical. Two kinds of knowledge relevance are discussed - the value for end users such as managers in organizations, and the value for one's own or other academic sub-communities. Evidence about the journal article review process is also analyzed along with the amount of time required to recognize the significance of a published article. Implications of these points for a journal such as Organization Science are discussed.
Although the alignment effect of equity ownership is often studied with emphasis on changes in firm strategy, the exposure of CEOs' firm-specific wealth to firm risk is more easily controlled by changing their level of equity holdings than by changing firm strategic risk. We rely on prospect theory and the behavioral theory of the firm to examine the antecedents of CEO equity reduction and investigate whether it serves to decouple CEO wealth from firm risk. Given its central role in loss avoidance, we underline the effect of the firm's downside risk and distinguish the total loss potential on equity holdings from the loss potential due to firm-specific factors. Allowing for own-performance referents, we also consider firm performance and the value of a CEO's equity holdings in the analysis. Based on a sample of 208 U.S. CEOs for the years 1997--1999, we find empirical support for the role of downside risk and firm performance in CEO equity reductions. Implications on incentive alignment through equity ownership are presented.
This article introduces emotional aperture, defined as the ability to recognize patterns of specific collective emotions. We show how emotional aperture can help leaders recognize and deal with diverse collective emotions that arise during strategic renewal and other emotionally turbulent processes. We describe key psychological-cultural enablers and impediments, moreover, to achieving the necessary focus and accuracy required for an effective emotional aperture in organizations. This article provides an initial conceptualization of how leaders can adjust their focus to group-level emotions and thus complement existing notions of emotional abilities (e.g., emotional intelligence), which focus on individual-level emotions.
Acquirers who buy small technology based firms for their technological capabilities often discover that post merger integration can destroy the very innovative capabilities that made the acquired organization attractive in the first place. Viewing structural integration as a mechanism to achieve coordination between acquirer and target organizations helps explain why structural integration may be necessary in technology acquisitions despite the costs of disruption this imposes, as well as the conditions under which it becomes less (or un-) necessary. We show that interdependence motivates structural integration, but pre-existing common ground offers acquirers an alternate path to achieving coordination, which may be less disruptive than structural integration.
Gaining a “window” on new technologies is a prominent motive for corporate venture capital (CVC) investing. Recent studies suggest that information gained through CVC-related activities can improve the internal R&D productivity of established firms. This study investigates an alternative means by which information gained through CVC investing
could improve firm performance—by increasing the returns to corporate investors when acquiring startups. We provide new insights based on an event study of the returns to 34 corporate investors from acquiring 242 technology startups. Consistent with predictions drawn from the absorptive capacity literature, we find that the effect of CVC investing on
acquisition performance hinges critically on the strength of the acquirer’s internal knowledge base: as CVC investments increase relative to an acquirer’s total R&D expenditures, acquisition performance improves at a diminishing rate. We also find that firms consistently engaged in venture financing earn greater returns when acquiring startups than do firms with
more sporadic patterns of investing, even controlling for firm profitability, size, and acquisition experience. These findings suggest that corporate investors systematically differ in their abilities to derive added benefits from external venturing as acquirers of entrepreneurial firms.
An important focus of the research on mergers and acquisitions is the conditions under which acquisitions create value for the acquiring firm's shareholders. Given that the acquisition process is plagued by serious issues of information asymmetry, which are exacerbated in the context of knowledge acquisitions, we examine whether prior alliances with potential targets reduce the information asymmetry enough to create “partner-specific absorptive capacity” and yield superior stock returns on acquisition, compared with acquisitions not preceded by alliances. We test our hypotheses on a sample of high-technology acquisitions by U.S. firms during 1990-1998 using an event study methodology to assess abnormal stock returns. We find, unexpectedly, that no significant general effect emerges for acquisitions with prior alliances. However, international acquisitions following alliances show significantly better returns relative to both acquisitions without prior alliances and domestic acquisitions. Additionally, stronger forms of prior alliances lead to better acquisition performance than weaker forms of alliances. Together, the results broadly support our thesis that partner-specific absorptive capacity may be at work and suggest that under certain prior alliance conditions, acquisitions can indeed create value for acquirers.
W e explore the role of resource interactions in explaining firm performance in the context of acquisitions. Although we confirm that acquisitions do not lead to higher performance on average, we do find that complementary resource profiles in target and acquiring firms are associated with abnormal returns. Specifically, we find that acquiring firm marketing resources and target firm technology resources positively reinforce (complement) each other; meanwhile, acquiring and target firm technology resources negatively reinforce (substitute) one another. Implications for management theory and practice are identified.
Existing research has utilized real options theory to analyze corporate venture capital (CVC) investment, yet little work has empirically studied such investment in a comparative setting. In this paper, we begin to address this gap by investigating firms’ investment mode choice between CVC and acquisition, which are alternative modes for external business development and corporate growth. We propose that when exogenous uncertainty elevates the value of real options, firms are more likely to undertake CVC investments rather than acquisitions. Furthermore, we suggest that the value of real options under uncertainty is contingent upon several factors, which may also shape firms’ choice between CVC and acquisition. Our empirical analyses model firms’ investment decision and investment mode choice simultaneously. The results indicate that market uncertainty is positively related to firms’ choice of CVC versus acquisition. In addition, investment irreversibility strengthens the effect of uncertainty, while growth opportunities surrounding the investment weaken the effect. Our empirical findings and the comparative approach we adopt to studying CVC investments and acquisitions have important implications for theory and research.
In this paper, the notion of superstitious learning is applied to the context of rare and complex strategic decisions. I argue that superstitious learning is a particularly relevant problem for these types of decisions not only because causal linkages between actions and outcomes might be poorly inferred, but also, more basically, because their performance outcomes are often very difficult to assess in objective ways. I test these arguments with a sample of U.S. bank mergers and find evidence that managers' perceptions of success in previous acquisitions is negatively related to the actual performance of the focal merger, and that this effect increases, rather than decreases, as managers accumulate experience. Consistent with the theoretical arguments developed, the effect is significantly attenuated as the knowledge is systematically articulated and codified and the stock of experience becomes more heterogeneous.
The difficulties of managing and coordinating operations as firms expand are expected to increase disproportionately with firm size. If firms face such diseconomies of managing, then acquisitions should make the combined entity more difficult to manage than the two entities operating independently. To document the existence of diseconomies of managing in acquisitions, we examine the change in civil lawsuit judgments involving acquired firms pre-and postacquisition. Civil lawsuit judgments can capture breakdowns in management oversight that cause firms to take actions that a prudent firm would not take or fail to take actions that a prudent firm would take. We find that acquired entities face a significant increase in lawsuit judgments postacquisition. We describe why our findings provide evidence of diseconomies of managing and highlight why managerial diseconomies should be an important consideration when managing or examining acquisition strategies.
Asubstantive body of theory and research on the role of culture in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) suggests that cultural differences can create major obstacles to achieving integration benefits. However, the opposite view---that differences in culture between merging firms can be a source of value creation and learning---has also been advanced and empirically supported. In an attempt to reconcile these conflicting perspectives and findings, we present a model that synthesizes our current understanding of the role of culture in M&A, and we develop a set of hypotheses regarding mechanisms through which cultural differences affect M&A performance. The results of a meta-analysis of 46 studies, with a combined sample size of 10,710 M&A, suggest that cultural differences affect sociocultural integration, synergy realization, and shareholder value in different, and sometimes opposing, ways. Moderator analyses reveal that the effects of cultural differences vary depending on the degree of relatedness and the dimensions of cultural differences separating the merging firms, as well as on research design and sample characteristics. The implications for M&A research and practice are discussed.
This study examines how designing for product development influences project performance in distinct technological environments. Drawing on a series of computational experiments and paired-case comparisons of six product development projects, we specifically examine how new product development performance is affected by project design and the technological environment. By triangulating across the computational experiments and case studies, we find the existence of performance trade-offs in product development as well as the importance of performance priorities in influencing project design. These findings permit us to elaborate on existing contingency-based perspectives of new product development and put forward a novel mediating model. In this mediating model of product development, we suggest that the technological environment shapes performance priorities, which in turn influence project design and ultimately the performance outcomes of new product development efforts. This model further highlights that project designs can evolve as a function of performance outcomes, although this process can be inhibited by the presence of design evolution constraints. This research contributes significantly to our understanding of designing projects for new product development.
Although organizational theorists have long argued that environments shape organizational structures, they have paid little attention to the processes by which the shaping occurs. This paper examines these processes by showing how environments shape teaching and learning activities, which in turn shape structure. Observational field data from structural engineering groups in three firms and hardware engineering groups in three firms revealed that the two occupations exhibited different patterns of learning episodes and different distributions of actors across those episodes, or what, following the work of Roger Barker, we call two distinct teaching-learning ecologies. After detailing the differences in the two ecologies, we show how these differences emerged from patterns of behavior that were influenced by unique sets of environmental and technological constraints. By demonstrating how actions transform environmental constraints into organizational structure, this paper indicates how research on individual learning in organizations can speak to larger concerns in organizational theory. Moreover, by adopting a synthetic and pragmatic approach to individual learning as a social activity, the paper highlights the role of teachers in workplace learning and casts doubts on the existence of a universal model of how individuals learn at work.