Despite much debate in the strategy literatures, there is little consensus as to whether organizational capabilities or market competition are more important in shaping firms’ actions and performance. We suspect that simply comparing firm‐level and industry‐level influences will continue to prove fruitless for two reasons. In the first place, both organization and competition are clearly important in shaping strategy and performance. In the second place, we suspect that the inconclusive nature of much of the existing research reflects the fact that organizational capabilities, competition, strategy, and performance are fundamentally endogenous. That is, reciprocal interactions at multiple levels of analysis between the environment and the firm shape business strategy and performance, while interactions between strategy and performance, in turn, shape both organizational capabilities and competitive environments. This special issue of the Strategic Management Journal includes papers that focus attention on several dimensions of these interactions. A common theme emerges from the work concerning the sequential nature of the interrelationships. The papers suggest that firms develop organizational capabilities as they act in competitive, institutional, and cognitive environments, where capabilities arise both by design and as the unexpected by‐products of firm actions. The capabilities, managers’ understanding of the capabilities, and the historical context that surrounds them then condition firms’ reactions to changes in their environment. The reactions and firm performance in turn affect the structure of the industry, and all these changes generate new information which in turn creates new learning opportunities. Thus, the papers view strategy and performance as an ongoing sequence of capabilities‐conditioned adaptations by firms which in turn become exogenous events in the environments of the managers of other firms. For strategy researchers, the important question is not that of which disciplinary perspective or mode of explanation is a more appropriate one, but rather that of the conditions under which a given mode of explanation is most appropriate. © 1997 by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Strategic Management Journal – Wiley
Published: Jul 1, 1997
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