J.P. Eggers, New York University Stern School of Business
Strategic Management Journal, 2015
Abstract: The study explores renewal in a novel but understudied context—an era of ferment with competing technological options. It focuses on IBM’s transition from market leadership in a failed path (plasma) to leadership in the emerging dominant technology (LCD) in the 1980s. Interviews and internal documents offer two primary factors explaining renewal at IBM. First, IBM Research had a hybrid structure that captured the benefits of both centralized and decentralized R&D. Second, middle managers shaped senior management cognitive frames to focus on business-related issues instead of specific technical issues, thus bypassing biases often resulting from failure. The study offers an integrated framework on what facilitates flexibility at the technology, organization, and decision-making levels. This flexibility helps firms survive a turbulent era of ferment.