Overcoming Path Dependency and “Lock-In”: In Competence Building and Competence Leveraging Processes

Ayberk Soyer, Sezi Çevik Onar, Ron Sanchez

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    Competence-Based Management (CBM) theory and research suggest that a firm’s competence building and leveraging processes are key factors influencing its competitive success. To achieve sustained competitive success, a firm’s competence building processes must continuously renew and extend the competences a firm has and can leverage. However, the ability of a firm to sustain strategically adequate levels of competence building – while also maintaining strategically successful competence leveraging – may be limited by various self-reinforcing managerial and organizational mechanisms that can arise from competence leveraging processes. In this paper we focus on certain managerial behaviors that may create path dependencies that lead an organization to become “locked-in” to its current competence leveraging processes and to neglect essential competence building, resulting in an inability to renew competences at a strategically adequate level and eventually in competitive failure.

    In order to avoid such consequences, the management literature suggests that organizations must cultivate dynamic capabilities to overcome tendencies toward lock-in and to sustain ongoing competence building. This study investigates ways in which firms can maintain healthy competence building processes by avoiding lock-ins, especially those resulting from self-reinforcing managerial behaviors. A case study of successful competence-renewing processes in a home improvement retailing company helps to amplify the components of dynamic capabilities and to illustrate the insights that emerge from our study.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationMid-range Management Theory : Competence Perspectives on Modularity and Dynamic Capabilities
    EditorsRon Sanchez, Aimé Heene, Seckin Polat, Umut Asan
    Number of pages20
    Place of PublicationBingley
    PublisherEmerald Group Publishing
    Publication date2017
    ISBN (Print)9781787144040
    ISBN (Electronic)9781787144033, 9781787149236
    Publication statusPublished - 2017
    SeriesResearch in Competence-Based Management


    • Competence building
    • Competence leveraging
    • Path dependency
    • Lock in
    • Strategic options
    • Dynamic capabilities

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