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Dynamic capabilities: what are they?

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  • Kathleen M. Eisenhardt
  • Jeffrey A. Martin

Abstract

This paper focuses on dynamic capabilities and, more generally, the resource‐based view of the firm. We argue that dynamic capabilities are a set of specific and identifiable processes such as product development, strategic decision making, and alliancing. They are neither vague nor tautological. Although dynamic capabilities are idiosyncratic in their details and path dependent in their emergence, they have significant commonalities across firms (popularly termed ‘best practice’). This suggests that they are more homogeneous, fungible, equifinal, and substitutable than is usually assumed. In moderately dynamic markets, dynamic capabilities resemble the traditional conception of routines. They are detailed, analytic, stable processes with predictable outcomes. In contrast, in high‐velocity markets, they are simple, highly experiential and fragile processes with unpredictable outcomes. Finally, well‐known learning mechanisms guide the evolution of dynamic capabilities. In moderately dynamic markets, the evolutionary emphasis is on variation. In high‐velocity markets, it is on selection. At the level of RBV, we conclude that traditional RBV misidentifies the locus of long‐term competitive advantage in dynamic markets, overemphasizes the strategic logic of leverage, and reaches a boundary condition in high‐velocity markets. Copyright © 2000 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Kathleen M. Eisenhardt & Jeffrey A. Martin, 2000. "Dynamic capabilities: what are they?," Strategic Management Journal, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(10‐11), pages 1105-1121, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:stratm:v:21:y:2000:i:10-11:p:1105-1121
    DOI: 10.1002/1097-0266(200010/11)21:10/113.0.CO;2-E
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    File URL: https://doi.org/10.1002/1097-0266(200010/11)21:10/113.0.CO;2-E
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