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Managing In The Modular Age: Architectures, Networks, and Organizations by Richard N. Langlois, Arun Kumaraswamy, Raghu Garud

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Chapter 10. DOMINANT DESIGNS, TECHNOLOGY CYCLES, AND ORGANIZATIONAL OUTCOMES

Michael L. Tushman and Johann Peter Murmann

Organization theorists, strategy scholars, economists, and historians of technology have all highlighted the powerful role of technology in shaping organizational outcomes. It is by now a well-established observation that technological change is one of the prime movers of industrial, strategic, and organizational change (e.g., Henderson and Clark, 1990; Barley, 1990; Tripsas, 1997; Tushman and Anderson, 1986). Mastering the "black box of technology" represents a crucial organizational capability for succeeding in competitive markets (e.g., Rosenberg, 1976; Rosenbloom and Christensen, 1994; Tushman and O'Reilly, 1997). Yet with all the interest in technology and organizational outcomes, confusion abounds in basic concepts and fundamental ideas; there is little clarity on a mid-range theory of technology and technological change, or their impacts on organizational outcomes (e.g., Podolny and Stuart, 1995; Teece, 1996; Nelson, 1995). Confusion on dominant designs and technology cycles contributes to this condition.

Dominant designs and their effects on industry and organizational evolution have been at the core of several distinct research streams over the past 20 years. Dominant designs appear to be a crucial linchpin in both technological as well as organizational evolution. For example, the emergence of quartz movements in watches (dominating tuning fork and escapements) ...

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