What are dynamic capabilities and are they a useful construct in strategic management?


  • Véronique Ambrosini is from Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Cardiff, CF10 3EU, UK. Cliff Bowman is from Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield, Bedford, MK43 0AL, UK.


The dynamic capability perspective extends the resource-based view argument by addressing how valuable, rare, difficult to imitate and imperfectly substitutable resources can be created and how the current stock of valuable resources can be refreshed in changing environments. The concept of dynamic capabilities emerged in the 1990s, and the field has advanced considerably since. This paper presents a review as well as a synthesis of the extant literature. This synthesis first highlights, that dynamic capabilities are shaped by enabling and inhibiting variables within and outside the firm, including the perceptions and motivations of managers; secondly, it identifies processes that create dynamic capabilities; and thirdly, it explains that dynamic capabilities do not automatically lead to performance improvements. Finally, the paper addresses some areas of confusion and contradiction that hamper the development of the literature.