In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Dynamic Capabilities

  • Introduction
  • Journals
  • Reviews and Meta-Analyses
  • Seminal Papers
  • Conceptual Refinements
  • Types of Dynamic Capabilities

Management Dynamic Capabilities
by
Emma Buellet
  • LAST MODIFIED: 24 November 2020
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199846740-0198

Introduction

As a relatively young, yet flagship discipline of strategic management, dynamic capabilities research has emerged as one of the central perspectives exploring the foundations of the achievement of sustainable competitive advantage, especially in the context of dynamic environments. Dynamic capabilities are deeply rooted in, and sometimes seen as an extension of, the resource-based view of the firm. The notion that competitive advantage both stems from the exploitation of current capabilities and the development of new ones was already vaguely conceptualized by prominent contributors of the resource-based view such as Edith Penrose and Birger Wernerfelt. However, the idea that there are special capabilities—dynamic capabilities—enabling organizations to build, integrate, or reconfigure their internal and external resource and competence base, was formerly conceptualized in the late 1990s as a separate yet connected stream of research (see Teece, et al. 1997—cited under Seminal Papers—which is titled “Dynamic Capabilities and Strategic Management”). The dynamic capabilities perspective is also strongly connected to evolutionary economics. This is why the field has focused for some time on the exploration of semi-automatic and path-dependent routines as the foundation of dynamic capabilities. However, proponents of the behavioral theory of the firm have criticized this approach and integrated the deliberate human element in the dynamic capabilities perspective (for an overview of the theoretical assumptions underpinning the dynamic capabilities perspective, see the article “Dynamic Capabilities and the Role of Managers in Business Strategy and Economic Performance”—Augier and Teece 2009, cited under Conceptual Refinements). As a result, various important debates emerged in the community and the field has been generally criticized for its ambiguity, inconsistency, and conflicting assumptions. This is exemplified by the important number of diverging conceptual contributions to the field, still up to this day, and by the relatively late materialization of empirical work. Nevertheless, the vast number of contributions illustrates the necessity to consider dynamism, which underlies the concept of dynamic capabilities, as a key component of competitive advantage and organizational adaption (see the separate Oxford Bibliographies in Management article “Organizational Adaptation”). The key contributors of the dynamic capabilities perspective in management research are, among others, Kathleen Eisenhardt, Constance Helfat, Margaret Peteraf, David Teece, and Sidney Winter. To support scholars to move toward a theory of dynamic capabilities, this bibliography provides an overview of the field, its origin and developments, while highlighting the conceptual and empirical problems that remain to be solved.

Journals

Research on dynamic capabilities appears in the most prominent peer-reviewed journals of management, strategy, and organization theory. However, scholars interested in dynamic capabilities may want to first consult the Strategic Management Journal, as the vast majority of important contributions can be found there. A significant amount of high-impact publications is featured in other leading journals such as the Journal of Management Studies, or Organization Science. Scholars who seek to discover papers studying dynamic capabilities in specific industry contexts should consult the former. The latter is of particular interest for scholars eager to know more about the application of varied methods to the field of dynamic capabilities. All three journals are highly ranked.

  • Journal of Management Studies. 1963–.

    The Journal of Management Studies publishes both conceptual and empirical work in the field of management. It focuses on research areas closely related to dynamic capabilities, such as organization theory, organizational behavior, and strategy. The journal features important contributions in the field of dynamic capabilities.

  • Organization Science. 1990–.

    Organization Science is an outlet for research in strategy, management, and organization theory. It encompasses theoretical as well as empirical work focused on organizations and their respective processes, structures, technologies, identities, capabilities, forms, and performance. Therefore, it is not surprising that important dynamic capabilities research is often published in this journal.

  • Strategic Management Journal. 1980–.

    Dynamic capabilities are a central theme in strategic management. Therefore, the Strategic Management Journal (SMJ), the reference journal in the field, is unsurprisingly home to the majority of scholarly articles on dynamic capabilities published in renowned outlets. SMJ is a generalist journal providing mostly empirical but also theoretical work on a broad range of management topics. Its intention is to appeal not only to scholars but also to practitioners.

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