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Capabilities, Structures and Strategies Re-Examined: Incumbent Firms and the Emergence of Complex Product Systems (CoPS) in Mature Industries

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This paper re-examines theories about firm capabilities, industrial co-ordination and competitive strategies in the context of Complex Product Systems (CoPS). In particular, it looks at the applicability of concepts of technological and organisational capabilities, transaction and governance cost analysis and industry lifecycle models to the performance of mature industries under conditions of technological change. It does so in the light of empirical evidence from one sector of a mature but fast-changing industry in which CoPS are currently emerging: offset lithographic print and publishing technologies--the capital goods and systems used to produce printed mass media, particularly newspapers. In this sector of the graphic arts industries, three major incumbent producer firms which were previously similar had each begun to pursue different capabilities, structures and strategies, with apparent success. The complexity of CoPS and of the organisational arrangements for their design, development and commissioning are capable of supporting a wide variety of firm capabilities, structures and strategies.

Keywords: Capabilities; Printing; Product complexity; Strategy; Structure

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Research Centre for Social Sciences University of Edinburgh Scotland UK

Publication date: June 1, 2004

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