Group 4 SMOTI Jan26

Organizational Linkages for Surviving Technological
Change: Complementary Assets, Middle Management, and
Alva Taylor, Constance E. Helfat, 2009
Group 4: Aleksi, Alexander, Dada & Vili
Technological transitions
Challenges in tech. transitions
Implications for management
Critical analysis
Areas of improvement
Incumbents often have difficulty adapting to
changes when one core technology replaces
The role of linkages across the business unit is
essential for successful technological
Technological transitions
Definition used by the authors:
“technological transition as a fundamental
change in the nature of a product and the
core technology that underpins that
Simplification according to the authors:
“a firm attempts to transform itself from a
business based on one core technology to
Technological transitions: Complementary Assets
Technological transition often involves a shift in complementary assets.
- Part of the existing complementary assets remain significant
- Some complementary assets are replaced
- The importance of different types of assets might change
Technological transitions: Organizational Linkages
Defined as those that connect actors with
different roles in an organization through
communication and coordination
- Sharing information
- Consistent actions
- Aligned planning and decision making
Communication is the key for coordination
Communication between people
Boundary spanners in a key role
Technological transitions: Management Linking Activity
Middle managers are critical to organizational
linkage during technological transition
- Forging and maintaining the linkages
Top management could specify the necessary
linking for the middle management
- High uncertainty during technological
transition makes it difficult
Influence the linking activity
Technological transitions: Influencing the linking activity
The critical influences that impact the willingness to
execute linking activity
- Economic
- Structural
- Social
- Cognitive
Strength of each influence vary in different
Focus on the aspects that affect the middle
management behavior
Challenges in technological transitions
Finding a way to “exploit” existing
complementary assets to support the
new “exploratory” core technology
The rise of higher costs of communication
and coordination than with current
ongoing activities
Challenges in technological transitions
Knowing when to enforce linkages between
existing and new complementary assets and
core technologies, as opposed to creating
unlinked organizational structures
Challenges in technological transitions
The implications of new technologies and
their fluctuating early profits
Cannibalism of existing products
Uncertainty around profitability may negatively
impact middle managers’ rewards
May motivate middle-management to stay loyal
only to the old technology - and even to
undermine the new business
Implications for management
Organisational communication is critical
both vertical and horizontal
Technologies (old & new) must be properly
aligned with organisational strategy
Organisational culture must encourage flexibility
People’s buy-in must be solicited
Critical analysis
Article emphasises linkages between internal
resources neglecting to the external ones
e.g. suppliers
Rewards and recognitions of middles are
emphasised, what about the teams?
Agree with authors’ perspectives?
Areas of improvements
Direct linkage to customers
by hosting customer forum
brand community
Rewards & recognition of teams
Team of the month award
Role of strategic change managers
bird-view of overall strategy
support teams and middle managers
Definition of technological transition
• a fundamental change in the nature of a
product and the core technology that
underpins the product
Challenges involved in the transition
• Leverage
assets in support of new tech.
• Implications of new technologies
Agree with the author?
• Yes
Taylor, A., & Helfat, C. (2009). Organizational Linkages for Surviving
Technological Change: Complementary Assets, Middle Management, and
Ambidexterity. Organization Science.