Knowledge Strategy: Micro-foundations of strategy, dynamic capabilities, knowledge, and ambidexterity

Topic 3: Knowledge Strategy

Knowledge as a basis of competitive advantage 

The knowledge strategy theme roots in the observation in their search for survival companies increasingly rely on their unique asset: their knowledge (Spender, 1996; Zollo et al. 2002).

Earlier research has demonstrated that knowledge sourced from outside boosts innovative performance up to a certain level, while long-term success is mainly dependent on internal knowledge creation (Kessler et al. 2000; Cassiman & Veugelers 2006; Grimpe & Kaiser 2010). Both internal knowledge accumulation and search for new knowledge outside (general market awareness, strategic alliances, M&A) are highly dependent on ability of an organization to absorb new knowledge (Cohen & Levinthal, 1989, 1990; Zahra & George, 2002). Moreover, the companies should strive towards a dynamic balance between internal and external knowledge sourcing (Menon & Pfeffer, 2003).

We welcome submissions that focus on the role of knowledge within the frame of strategic management: the processes related to knowledge sourcing and use, organizational antecedents and outputs of knowledge. We particularly encourage works that explore the interplay between internally generated knowledge and knowledge absorbed from external environment, as well as welcome investigation of the processes behind those strategies and the new approaches to the measurement and operationalization of knowledge. 

Some of the questions that this theme addresses:

Is learning embedded into strategic goals of organizations and how much does the new knowledge influence strategic choices? How is the balance between internal and external knowledge sourcing achieved? How is the use of information sourced from outside balanced by development of internally generated ideas? What are the mechanisms of knowledge processing within a firm? What is the role of absorptive capacity in external and internal knowledge sourcing? How can the knowledge inflow or creation be adequately measured and how can we capture the influences on organizational performance? Are there time limits to knowledge use? What is the role of employee initiative and cooperation between employees for fulfilment of strategic goals? How do firms adapt to environmental changes? How can a company keep up with fast-paced environment (can a continuing development mindset be developed)? How does all of the above influence organizational performance? How much do the knowledge strategies impact organizational performance?

  • Cohen WM, Levinthal DA. 1989. Innovation and learning: The two faces of R&D. Economic Journal. 99(397): 569–596.
  • Cohen WM, Levinthal DA. 1990. Absorptive capacity: A new perspective on learning and innovation. Administrative Science Quarterly 35(2): 128–152.
  • Grimpe, C, Kaiser, U.  2010. Balancing internal and external knowledge acquisition: the gains and pains from R&D outsourcing. Journal of Management Studies 47(8): 1483-1509.
  • Henderson R, Clark KB. 1990. Architectural innovation: The reconfiguration of existing product technologies and the failure of established firms. Administrative Science Quarterly 35(1): 9–30.
  • Kessler, EH, Bierly, PE, Gopalakrishnan, S. 2000. Internal vs. external learning in new product development: effects on speed, costs and competitive advantage. R&D Management 30(3): 213-224.
  • Lane PJ, Koka BR, Pathak S. 2006. The reification of absorptive capacity: A critical review and rejuvenation of the construct. Academy of Management Review 31(4): 833–863.
  • Menon, T, Pfeffer, J. 2003. Valuing internal vs. external knowledge: Explaining the preference for outsiders. Management Science 49(4): 497-513.
  • Spender, JC. 1996. Making knowledge the basis of a dynamic theory of the firm. Strategic Management Journal 17(S2): 45-62.
  • Zahra SA, George G. 2002. Absorptive capacity: A review, reconceptualization, and extension. Academy of Management Review 27(2): 185–203.
  • Zollo M, Reuer JJ, Singh, H. 2002. Interorganizational routines and performance in strategic alliances. Organization Science 13(6): 701–713.

Contact details:

Mait Rungi
Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia

Valeria Stulova
Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia