Strategic Management Society Special Conference on Enabling Big Bang Innovations location:Geneva, Switzerland date:20-23 March 2013
How can established companies increase their chances at inventing technological breakthroughs? Prior R&D might lead to path dependency and competency traps causing a company to be locked out in case the technology frontier shifts to a new area. Prior literature has advised companies to move beyond areas of established competence by investing R&D in or externally sourcing prior art from unfamiliar and emerging technology fields. In this paper, we take a complementary perspective and study if and how continuity with established technological capabilities can facilitate companies to invent technological breakthroughs in the future. We study how brokering disconnected but very familiar technological components or subfields provides established companies the opportunity to develop technological breakthroughs while redeploying knowledge and capabilities accumulated from prior R&D.