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The Dynamics of Learning and Competition in Schumpeterian Environments 

with A. Kaul and B. Wu

Organization Science (2019)


In this study, we examine the nature of Schumpeterian competition between entrants and incumbents. We argue that incumbents may respond to the threat of entry by either attacking the entrant or trying to learn from it, and that entrants, in turn, may react by either reciprocating the incumbent’s advances or retreating from it. Putting these competitive choices together, we develop a framework of four distinct potential scenarios of Schumpeterian competition. In particular, we emphasize a scenario we term creative divergence, wherein incumbents try to learn from entrants and build on their technologies, but their investments to do so cause entrants to retreat, resulting in diminishing returns to learning investments by incumbents. Exploratory analyses of the US cardiovascular medical device industry find patterns consistent with the creative divergence scenario, with incumbent knowledge investments helping them to learn from entrants, but these learning benefits being undermined as entrants move away from incumbents.


Is the Division of Labor Limited by the Extent of the Market? Opportunity Cost Theory with Evidence from the Real Estate Brokerage Industry

Strategic Management Journal (2021)

The division of labor allows individuals to focus their time on a narrower band of activities and increase productivity through specialization, but this comes at a cost. When individuals divide labor, they divide value and split the “pie” they help create. In this paper, I formally model this tradeoff and examine how it is affected by opportunity-cost considerations related to market characteristics. I test the empirical predictions of the model in the residential real estate brokerage industry in Southeast Michigan. Consistent with the predictions, I find that the division of labor is more likely for properties in the midrange of the price distribution and in larger markets, but less likely at the tails and in markets where property prices exhibit substantial heterogeneity.


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Strategic Search: Organizational Adaptation with Competitive Positioning  

with A. Kaul and D. Martignoni

(Revise & Resubmit at Strategic Management Journal)


In this paper, we study how competitive pressures shape organizational adaptation in complex environments. To do so, we combine a standard NK simulation with a differentiated duopoly competition game to model firms simultaneously engaging in an internal search for superior technical proficiency and an external search for a differentiated competitive position. We show that accounting for competitive pressures limits innovation in low complexity environments, but boosts it in high complexity environments, and examine the implications of this pattern for competitive advantage and consumer welfare. We also explore how these findings are moderated by the number of choice dimensions that are salient to consumers, as well as asymmetric exposure to competition among firms. Our study integrates research on competitive dynamics and organizational adaptation, contributing insights to organizational shaping, innovation, and competitive advantage.


Hyperspecialization and Hyperscaling: A Resource-based Theory of the Digital Firm 

with T. Kretschmer, D. Somaya, and B. Wu

Strategic Management Journal (Forthcoming)

Compared to enterprises of the past, digital firms tend to be simultaneously narrower in their vertical scope and larger in their scale. We explain this phenomenon through a theory about how attributes of a firm’s resource bundle impact its scale and specialization. In particular, we highlight that the high scalability of digital firms’ resource bundles may drive “hyperspecialization” and “hyperscaling” due to the opportunity costs of not intensively deploying these resources. We use descriptive theory and a formal model to develop a number of propositions that are consistent with observed features of digital businesses. Our research provides a parsimonious modeling framework for future resource-based theorizing about digital firms, and sheds light on the far-reaching ways that technology-enabled resources are reshaping firms in the digital economy.

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