What makes a process a capability? Heuristics, strategy, and effective capture of opportunities

Authors

  • Christopher B. Bingham,

    Corresponding author
    1. Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, U.S.A.
    • Department of Management and Organization, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland, 4519 Van Munching Hall, College Park, MD 20742, U.S.A.
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  • Kathleen M. Eisenhardt,

    1. Department of Management Science and Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California, U.S.A.
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  • Nathan R. Furr

    1. Department of Management Science and Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California, U.S.A.
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Abstract

While organizational processes, such as internationalization, acquisition, and alliance, are a fundamental concept within many literatures and central to firm capabilities, controversy exists regarding how they become high performing. One view emphasizes the role of experience while a second view emphasizes cognition and, in particular, the role of articulated heuristics. Using qualitative and quantitative field data on the internationalization process of entrepreneurial firms from three culturally distinct regions (Finland, U.S., Singapore), we juxtapose these two competing theoretical views to better gain insight into organizational processes and capabilities. The core contribution of our paper is insight into the structure of firm capabilities. Results show that organizational heuristics more closely relate to the development of a high performing process and hence a firm capability. At a broader level, we contribute to strategy by empirically validating the strategic logic of opportunity, a logic that is particularly relevant in dynamic markets and growth oriented firms. We also contribute to entrepreneurship by adding to the opportunity discovery vs. opportunity creation debate, and by shedding light on the relationship between structure and performance in new ventures. Overall, we contribute to the emerging but growing body of research emphasizing a more cognitive view of firms. Copyright © 2007 Strategic Management Society.

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