An asymmetry-based view of advantage: towards an attainable sustainability
Article first published online: 12 SEP 2003
Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Strategic Management Journal
Special Issue: Why is there a resource-based view? Toward a theory of competitive heterogeneity
Volume 24, Issue 10, pages 961–976, October 2003
How to Cite
Miller, D. (2003), An asymmetry-based view of advantage: towards an attainable sustainability. Strat. Mgmt. J., 24: 961–976. doi: 10.1002/smj.316
- Issue published online: 12 SEP 2003
- Article first published online: 12 SEP 2003
- resource-based view;
- dynamic capabilities;
- firm asymmetries;
- organization design
The resource-based view of the firm postulates that sustainable abnormal rents can accrue to firms having valuable, rare, inimitable, non-substitutable resources and capabilities. Given these criteria, sustainable resources are hard to attain. Our study of some two dozen firms shows how some of them were able to overcome this dilemma by building not so much on resources and capabilities as on asymmetries. Asymmetries are typically skills, processes, or ‘assets’ a firm's competitors do not and cannot copy at a cost that affords economic rents. They are rare, inimitable and non-substitutable, although not connected to any engine of value creation, and, in fact, often act as liabilities. By discovering and reconceptualizing these asymmetries, embedding them within a complementary organizational design, and leveraging them across appropriate market opportunities, many firms were able to turn asymmetries into sustainable capabilities. Copyright © 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.