Historical Change and the Competitive Advantage of Firms: Explicating The'Dynamics' in the Dynamic Capabilities Framework

R. Daniel Wadhwani, Geoffrey Jones

Research output: Working paperResearch


This working paper aims to deepen the scholarly dialogue between strategy and history. It does so by examining how historical models of change can contribute to theory and research on the competitive advantage of firms during periods of rapid innovation. Focusing on the dynamic capabilities framework, it shows how three models of historical change—evolutionary, dialectical, and constitutive—can be used to extend theory and deepen research about the origins, context, and micro-foundations of dynamic capabilities. We show how each model of historical change shaped the intellectual development of the dynamic capabilities framework, point to historical research that illustrates these processes, and discuss the methodological and conceptual implications for future research. We conclude by suggesting that recognizing and building on these historical models of change can provide a common conceptual language for a deeper dialogue between historians and strategy researchers.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBoston, MA
PublisherHarvard Business School
Number of pages32
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes
SeriesHarvard Business School Working Paper


  • Business history
  • Strategy
  • Dynamic capabilities
  • Innovation
  • Change
  • Temporality
  • Context
  • Microfoundations

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