Inferring superior capabilities from sustained superior performance: A Bayesian analysis

Authors


Christina Fang, Stern School of Business, New York University, 44 West 4th Street, 7-62, New York, NY 10 012, U.S.A. E-mail: cfang@stern.nyu.edu

Abstract

To what extent can one infer that superior capabilities are driving sustained superior performance? Modeling performance as some combination of differences in capabilities and processes of cumulative advantage, we argue that a Bayesian framework in which decision makers take into account the differences in cumulative advantage provides for a correct inference. We show, using both simulated and real performance data, that the Bayesian method gives rise to estimates relevant for the inference problem. The estimates also illustrate why a firm with superior performance during a longer period can be less likely to possess superior capabilities than a firm with superior performance during a shorter period. Our work has implications for the origins of competitive advantages and for organization learning in strategy research. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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