The Evolving Firm: How Dynamic and Operating Capabilities Interact to Enable Entrepreneurship


  • We acknowledge with appreciation the supportive comments of the guest editors and three anonymous reviewers. We also thank Art Shulman, Andrew Griffiths, Damian Hine, Peter Liesch and Rick Tamaschke for their invaluable assistance on earlier drafts.


In this study, we expand our understanding of firm evolution by focusing on how operating and dynamic capabilities interact through endogenously led changes. The focus on endogenous change complements the current emphasis in the literature on how dynamic capabilities help firms cope with the risk of core rigidities following an exogenous shock. Our comparison of two collaborating firms shows that, at the operating capability level, firms build absorptive capacity in value networks during their product development experiences and this learning needs to be captured at the product portfolio planning level. When this learning is captured and transformed, product portfolio planning acts as a dynamic capability reconfiguring operating capabilities based on beliefs about follow-on entrepreneurial opportunities. Under conditions of endogenous change, dynamic capabilities are guided by a proactive entrepreneurial logic, complementing the need for reactive adaptive responses in circumstances of exogenous change. A key implication is that dynamic capabilities have a more expansive and critical role in the adaptation of firms than previously considered. Our theorizing shows how interactions between dynamic and operating capabilities build the adaptive capacity of the organization.