“The Age of Temporary Advantage”

18 January 2008 at 2:14 pm 2 comments

| Nicolai Foss ]

Rich D’Aveni, Gianbattista Dagnino and Ken Smith have just disseminated a call for papers for a special issue of the Strategic Management Journal on the above subject. The purpose of the special issue, they explain, is to “develop theory and empirical evidence about whether and why competitive advantages are becoming less sustainable, and how organizations can successfully compete using a series of temporary or dynamic competitive advantages. The primary goal is to ask: What would the field of strategy look like if the sustainability of competitive advantage was very rare or nonexistent?”

Here is the full Call for Papers:


Guest Co-editors: Richard A. D’Aveni, Giovanni Battista Dagnino, and Ken G. Smith

Special Issue Purpose
The aim of this special issue is to develop theory and empirical evidence about whether and why competitive advantages are becoming less sustainable, and how organizations can successfully compete using a series of temporary or dynamic competitive advantages. The primary goal is to ask: What would the field of strategy look like if the sustainability of competitive advantage was very rare or nonexistent?

Over the past decade and a half, two literatures have challenged the concept of sustainable competitive advantage, suggesting that firm-specific advantages are not sustainable and more temporary in nature due to endogenous and exogenous reasons. These two literatures are: 1) the literature on hypercompetitive, high-velocity, hyper-turbulent, and chaotic environments; and 2) the studies on competitive dynamics that focus on speed and aggressiveness of firm actions that may undermine the effectiveness of a firm’s position and movements. Together these literatures have found numerous endogenous and exogenous competence destroying strategies, disruptions and discontinuities that have questioned the strategy fields core tenet that firms should seek out sustained advantages. And they have identified how product positioning-, knowledge-, resource-, barrier to entry-, and deep pocket-based advantages have been deteriorating more quickly in the past, due to revolutionary new business models, disruptive technologies, fast diffusion and access to information, and more emphasis on growth through innovation, than on maintaining margins and stability.
Yet the vast majority of strategic management scholarship has continued to assume that sustainable competitive advantage exists. Indeed, from the very outset of the field considerable effort is still being dedicated to defining and empirically demonstrating the existence of sustainable advantages. The field’s most current response to the challenges to unsustainable advantage is “dynamic capabilities”—again assumed to be a sustainable advantage that enables continuous strategy innovation necessary in disruptive environments. However, there is no consistent body of evidence that dynamic capabilities are sustainable over extended periods of time and in different contexts, and many suspect that firms can either become exhausted by continuous transformation and innovation or get complacent by success.

Research Questions
The analysis of temporary and dynamic advantage can be partitioned into three main parts: (a) causes or antecedents, (b) management of temporary or dynamic advantages, and (c) consequences of temporary advantage. We seek studies of the many causes of the erosion of advantage including studies that focus on the following questions: What are the endogenous and exogenous antecedents of various kinds of temporary or dynamic advantages? Are controllable or uncontrollable causes more important? Answers to these questions are necessary to understand whether there are ways to slow the accelerating depreciation of advantages and which strategic solutions or strategies are possible.
We are also seeking articles on how to manage a series of temporary or dynamic competitive advantages. Specifically, we seek papers on: How do companies develop strategies to actively manage luck? How does organizational structure, culture, compensation, and processes vary to enable the concatenation a series of short-lived advantages? How is organizational decision-making and firm resource configurations different in a world of temporary or dynamic advantages?
Finally, we are looking for papers that answer how firms achieve high performance where advantages are fleeting? Do they intentionally cannibalize old advantages and transition to new ones to pre-empt the competition? If so, when and under what conditions? Is there logic to the sequence and timing of moves deployed or is it a “random walk”? Do firm shift to advantages designed to reduce risk or increase growth at the expense of profitability? As the pace of change and disruption accelerates, will other forces arise to create stability/instability in markets? What economic, societal and collaborative actions and strategies, if any, are emerging to dampen the escalation of strategic turmoil, rivalry and fleeting advantage associated with dynamic, hypercompetition, high velocity and other chaotic environments?
In sum, we are looking for papers that examine the formulation and execution of very short-term dynamics of strategy, the use of temporary advantages in hyper-competitive environments.
Deadlines and Submission Instructions:
The deadline for submission of papers is October 1, 2008. Please submit your papers online on the Strategic Management Journal website and make sure to follow the Submission Guidelines available at: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/2144/home/ForAuthors.html.

Review Process and Special Issue Conference: The Guest Editors are seeking reviewers for this issue and are soliciting nominations and volunteers to participate in the review process. Reviewers are invited to contact the guest co-editor Giovanni Battista Dagnino, who is responsible for preparing the list of potential reviewers. Papers will be reviewed following the regular Strategic Management Journal double-blind review process. After the second round of reviews, the authors of the most promising submissions will be invited to a Special Issue Conference on “The Age of Temporary Advantages,” to be held at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth in September 2009.

Guest Co-editors’ contact details: Professor Richard D’Aveni, Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, 100 Tuck Hall, Hanover, NH email: richard.a.d’aveni@tuck.dartmouth.edu; Professor Giovanni Battista Dagnino, University of Catania, Catania, Italy; e-mail: dagnino@unict.it; Professor Ken G. Smith, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, College Park, MD; e-mail: rhsmith@umd.edu.

Entry filed under: - Foss -, Strategic Management.

Kitchen Hierarchy Thank You, David!

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kevin Carson  |  25 January 2008 at 3:34 am

    My guess is that a great deal of “comparative advantage” is artificial, based on state-created barriers to the diffusion of knowledge and skill in a competitive economy. For example, there’s a considerable overlap between the concept of comparative advantage and what Chandler called “organizational capability.” And the substance of much of the latter is suggested by Chandler’s own history of the tech industry, much of which consists of an extended account of which patents were owned by which firms.

  • 2. The Origin of the Niche Maker | The Niche Maker  |  29 November 2009 at 2:10 pm

    […] competitive advantage (and therefore the value of creating a niche) is temporary. There is even ongoing research into the topic to see just how fleeting this advantage is. So why even bother creating a niche in the first place, […]

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