Speciation through entrepreneurial spin-off: The Acorn-ARM story
Can the concept of speciation explain evidence on how technologies branch and advance? Can evidence on innovation through spin-off usefully inform the concept of speciation? These questions are addressed through a case study of detailed processes enabling the shift of technology to new domains of application. An innovative IT firm developed its own semiconductor technology to remedy supplier deficiencies but it required a joint venture with a completely new business model to adapt and move the technology into new market domains. We propose the concept of techno-organizational speciation to delineate this phenomenon. Competing perspectives on speciation (compatibility, niche and lineage approaches) are found to illuminate the evidence, while complementarities between these conceptual dimensions are revealed by the case. Causal processes uncovered include the following: (1) Techno-organizational speciation through spin-off may be needed to launch a dominant technical standard, compatible with multiple applications. (2) This can be achieved through niche creation from which develops a new business ecosystem. (3) Inherited knowledge together with organizationally based learning foster the branching and renewal of technological lineages.
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