The Path of Most Persistence: An Evolutionary Perspective on Path Dependence and Dynamic Capabilities

Organization Studies

18 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2011

See all articles by Jean-Philippe Vergne

Jean-Philippe Vergne

Western University - Ivey Business School

Rodolphe Durand

HEC Paris - Strategy & Business Policy

Date Written: March 2010

Abstract

This paper extends the dynamic capability view and research on organizational path dependence by arguing that path dependence can be a property of capabilities when a contingently-triggered capability path is subject to self-reinforcement (i.e. a set of positive and negative mechanisms that increases the attractiveness of a path relative to others). The paper introduces an evolutionary perspective, which specifies the underlying selection mechanisms of the property of path dependence in internal and external firm environments. This theorization sheds new light on three paradoxes that currently blur the theoretical contribution of path dependence to research at the managerial, organizational, and industry levels: (1) the problematic coexistence of path irreversibility and managerial intentionality; (2) the ambivalent strategic value of lock-in with regard to competitive advantage; and (3) the relative homogeneity in observed dynamic capabilities, despite their (possible) path dependence that should lead to a wider variety of outcomes owing to the presence of contingency. We highlight the contributions of this perspective to strategic management research and evolutionary theories.

Keywords: path dependence, path dependency, dynamic capability, dynamic capabilities, organizational evolution

JEL Classification: B52

Suggested Citation

Vergne, Jean-Philippe and Durand, Rodolphe, The Path of Most Persistence: An Evolutionary Perspective on Path Dependence and Dynamic Capabilities (March 2010). Organization Studies. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1888306

Jean-Philippe Vergne (Contact Author)

Western University - Ivey Business School ( email )

London, Ontario
Canada

Rodolphe Durand

HEC Paris - Strategy & Business Policy ( email )

Jouy-en-Josas Cedex, 78351
France

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