Strategic Dynamics in Industry Architectures: The challenges of Knowledge Integration Submission due date: January 30, 2009
Stefano Brusoni, Bocconi University Michael G. Jacobides, London Business School Andrea Prencipe, University G. d’Annunzio
Industries can no longer be taken for granted. As sectors dis-integrate and re-integrate, converge and transform, the question of how exactly economic activities are structured, and what determines the nature of firms’ and sectors’ boundaries evolution becomes more relevant than ever. Firms are increasingly trying to shape the nature of their environment and the ways in which labor is divided in the sector; they try to shape the “rules and roles” through which labor (and knowledge) is divided and coordinated. To use a recently coined term, firms try to shape and re-define their “industry architectures”, i.e. the templates that determine “who does what” in a sector, as they appreciate that this will affect “who takes what”.
Some argue that the ability – and need – to manipulate industry architectures derives from the emergence of new bodies of scientific and technological knowledge which affect the competitive dynamics of the entire economy. New sectors have emerged on the basis of new disciplines (e.g. biotechnologies) as well as on the basis of the integration of old ones (e.g. mechatronics). Traditional sectors are affected by new disciplines in ways which challenge incumbents’ positions and favor the entry of new actors (e.g. telecommunications).
Others stress the ‘political’ role played by established organizations. For example, incumbents may influence which technological paths are pursued: leveraging on their role as industrial leaders, through strategic moves such as mergers and acquisitions, focused investments, lobbying for the adoption of specific standards, etc. Thus, as firms try to re-organize their industry environment, one major issue emerges: firms must create and simultaneously integrate knowledge to create advantage as well as coordinate sets of complex interdependencies that cut across firms’ boundaries.
In terms of our existing theoretical apparatus, research has offered key building blocks that provide answers to partial questions to understand the evolution of industry architectures. Researchers from the New Institutional / Transaction Cost economics, for instance, have explained how firms may choose their boundaries. Scholars of technological change have considered how organizations and technologies co-evolve over time. Yet, only recently have we started understanding what shapes the nature of the sectors that we study, and in what are the forces that explain why and how sectors swing between integration and disintegration. Likewise, the link between the boundaries of organizations and the knowledge bases in the sector has been shown to be important in the strategy literature, and it is clear that the boundaries of knowledge and the boundaries of organization are not fully mapped onto each other. However, our understanding of how knowledge becomes integrated in a complex web of relationships in a sector is still in its early stages: First, we have a very limited set of empirical studies that consider these dynamics at the level of “industry architectures”, which show how new sectors emerge, or how the roles of various industry participants are redefined. Second, we do not yet have a set of studies that considers how sectors change as a result of new opportunities, new knowledge bases, and new technologies. And third, we have yet to propose the micro-mechanisms that explain how the structures that integrate knowledge emerge, and how they affect the industries’ prospects, or how they change over time.
This special issue intends to extend and consolidate this growing area of interest. We are interested in contributions which look at the micro-level processes of knowledge integration and coordination, through changes in the division of labor and power. Questions of interest include, but are not limited to:
Are sectors characterized by one or multiple “industry architectures”, i.e. ways to divide labor between firms and coordinate the knowledge production? How do such architectures emerge, stabilize, and change?
How do sectors get reorganized to accommodate for the diffusion of new bodies of scientific and technological knowledge?
How do the dynamics of knowledge integration relate to the challenges of sectoral change? Other than science and technologies, what role is played by the distribution of power, intra- and inter-organizational conflict in shaping the evolution of sectors?
How do firms get organized to integrate knowledge? How do they identify what to integrate? What are the different options available to them?
Is knowledge integration performed by individual firms, or is knowledge integration something which necessarily happens at the network level? What are the mechanisms that allow it to take place?
What does knowledge integration actually mean? Is there any empirically observable or theoretically relevant distinction between the concepts of knowledge integration and recombination?
Whether at the level of the sector or the firm (or both), who determines and drives the processes through which knowledge becomes integrated? How, when and why do these change?
We would want to encourage the submission of empirical papers, whether qualitative or quantitative, exploratory or confirmatory. However, conceptual, theoretical, or modeling papers (with reference to the specific phenomena identified above) will also be considered.
Deadlines and Submission Instructions
The deadline for submission of papers is January 30, 2009. Please submit your papers online on the European Management Review website and make sure to follow the Submission Guidelines available at:
Review Process and Special Issue Conference
Papers will be reviewed following the regular European Management Review double-blind review process. It takes an average of four weeks to obtain the first round of reviews.
For additional information, please contact the special issue editors: