Entrepreneurship in the large corporation: a longitudinal study of how established firms create breakthrough inventions

Authors

  • Gautam Ahuja,

    Corresponding author
    1. College of Business Administration, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, U.S.A.
    • Management Department, College of Business Administration, 4.202, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, U.S.A.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Curba Morris Lampert

    1. College of Business Administration, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, U.S.A.
    Search for more papers by this author

Abstract

We present a model that explains how established firms create breakthrough inventions. We identify three organizational pathologies that inhibit breakthrough inventions: the familiarity trap – favoring the familiar; the maturity trap – favoring the mature; and the propinquity trap – favoring search for solutions near to existing solutions. We argue that by experimenting with novel (i.e., technologies in which the firm lacks prior experience), emerging (technologies that are recent or newly developed in the industry), and pioneering (technologies that do not build on any existing technologies) technologies firms can overcome these traps and create breakthrough inventions. Empirical evidence from the chemicals industry supports our model. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Ancillary