The Palgrave Encyclopedia of Strategic Management

Living Edition
| Editors: Mie Augier, David J. Teece

Competency Trap

  • Gautam Ahuja
Living reference work entry

Later version available View entry history

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-349-94848-2_385-1

Abstract

It is frequently observed that many firms, especially those that are successful in the current environment, fail to change quickly enough when the environment changes significantly. One potent explanation for these observations is a phenomenon of learning called a ‘competency trap’. In this article we briefly describe what competency traps are, the factors that lead to them, the consequences for the firm, including reduced adaptability and missed opportunities, and, finally, the various means through which a firm can avoid falling into the competency traps.

Keywords

Focal Firm Venture Capital Fund Corporate Venture Corporate Venture Capital Middle Managerial Level 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Ahuja, G., and R. Katila. 2004. Where do resources come from? The role of idiosyncratic situations. Strategic Management Journal 25: 887–907.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ahuja, G., and C.M. Lampert. 2001. Entrepreneurship in the large corporation: A longitudinal study of how established firms create breakthrough inventions. Strategic Management Journal 22: 521–543.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barnett, W.P., and M.T. Hansen. 1996. The Red Queen in organizational evolution. Strategic Management Journal 17: 139–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barnett, W.P., and E.G. Pontikes. 2008. The Red Queen, success bias, and organizational inertia. Management Science 54: 1237–1251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Burgelman, R.A. 1983. A process model of internal corporate venturing in the diversified major firm. Administrative Science Quarterly 28: 223–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bushee, B.J. 1998. The influence of institutional investors on myopic R&D investment behavior. Accounting Review 73: 305–333.Google Scholar
  7. Christensen, C.M., and J.L. Bower. 1996. Customer power, strategic investment, and the failure of leading firms. Strategic Management Journal 17: 197–218.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dushnitsky, G., and M.J. Lenox. 2005. When do incumbents learn from entrepreneurial ventures? Corporate venture capital and investing firm innovation rates. Research Policy 34: 615–639.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Fosfuri, A., and T. Rønde. 2009. Leveraging resistance to change and the skunk works model of innovation. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 72: 274–289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Henderson, R.M., and K.B. Clark. 1990. Architectural innovation: The reconfiguration of existing product technologies and the failure of established firms. Administrative Science Quarterly 35: 9–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Levinthal, D.A., and J.G. March. 1993. The myopia of learning. Strategic Management Journal 14: 95–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Levitt, B., and J.G. March. 1988. Organizational learning. Annual Review of Sociology 14: 319–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. March, J.G. 1991. Exploration and exploitation in organizational learning. Organization Science 2: 71–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Nelson, R.R., and S.G. Winter. 1982. An evolutionary theory of economic change. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Ocasio, W. 1998. Towards an attention-based view of the firm. Strategic Management Journal 18: 187–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Siggelkow, N., and D.A. Levinthal. 2003. Temporarily divide to conquer: Centralized, decentralized, and reintegrated organizational approaches to exploration and adaptation. Organization Science 14: 650–669.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Song, J., P. Almeida, and G. Wu. 2003. Learning-by-hiring: When is mobility more likely to facilitate interfirm knowledge transfer? Management Science 49: 351–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Taylor, A. 2010. The next generation: Technology adoption and integration through internal competition in new product development. Organization Science 21: 23–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Tzabbar, D. 2009. When does scientist recruitment affect technological repositioning? Academy of Management Journal 52: 873–896.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Winter, S.G. 2003. Understanding dynamic capabilities. Strategic Management Journal 24: 991–995.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Stephen M Ross School of BusinessAnn ArborUSA