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Vertical integration and disintegration of computer firms: a history-friendly model of the coevolution of the computer and semiconductor industries

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  • Franco Malerba
  • Richard Nelson
  • Luigi Orsenigo
  • Sidney Winter

Abstract

In this article, we present a history-friendly model of the changing vertical scope of computer firms during the evolution of the computer and semiconductor industries. The model is "history-friendly," in that it attempts at replicating some basic, stylized qualitative features of the evolution of vertical integration on the basis of the causal mechanisms and processes, which we believe can explain the history. These factors are identified in the coevolution of capabilities, the size of markets, and the structure of industries. In particular, the basic assumption is that the principal force behind the patterns of vertical integration and disintegration of computer firms was the differential development of capabilities for designing and producing semiconductors among firms. On this basis, the changing boundaries of firms are analyzed in the context of dynamic and uncertain technological and market environments, characterized by periods of technological revolutions punctuating periods of relative technological stability and smooth technical progress. The model illustrates how the patterns of vertical integration and specialization in the computer industry change as a function of the evolving levels and distribution of firms' capabilities over time and how they depend on the coevolution of the upstream and downstream sectors. Specific conditions in each of these markets-the size of the external market, the magnitude of the technological discontinuities, the lock-in effects in demand-exert critical effects and feedbacks on market structure and on the vertical scope of firms as time goes by. Copyright 2008 , Oxford University Press.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1093/icc/dtn001
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Oxford University Press in its journal Industrial and Corporate Change.

Volume (Year): 17 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 197-231

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Handle: RePEc:oup:indcch:v:17:y:2008:i:2:p:197-231

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  1. Utterback, James M & Abernathy, William J, 1975. "A dynamic model of process and product innovation," Omega, Elsevier, vol. 3(6), pages 639-656, December.
  2. Klepper, Steven, 1996. "Entry, Exit, Growth, and Innovation over the Product Life Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 562-83, June.
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Cited by:
  1. Malerba, Franco & Nelson, Richard & Orsenigo, Luigi & Winter, Sidney, 2008. "Public policies and changing boundaries of firms in a "history-friendly" model of the co-evolution of the computer and semiconductor industries," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 355-380, August.
  2. Antonio Revilla & Zulima Fernández, 2013. "Environmental Dynamism, Firm Size and the Economic Productivity of R&D," Industry and Innovation, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(6), pages 503-522, August.
  3. David, Paul & Aghion, Philippe, 2008. "Science, Technology and Innovation for Economic Growth: Linking Policy Research and Practice in "STIG Systems"," MPRA Paper 12096, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Christian Garavaglia & Franco Malerba & Luigi Orsenigo & Michele Pezzoni, 2012. "Technological regimes and demand structure in the evolution of the pharmaceutical industry," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 22(4), pages 677-709, September.
  5. Marie-Claude BELIS-BERGOUIGNAN (GREThA UMR CNRS 5113), 2009. "An evolutionist analysis of sectoral dynamics (In French)," Cahiers du GREThA 2009-18, Groupe de Recherche en Economie Théorique et Appliquée.

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