An evolutionary perspective on convergence

Part of the Contributions to Management Science book series (MANAGEMENT SC.)


Building on initial observations from the pre-study as well as literature review, this chapter will attempt at framing a construct for an evolutionary perspective of convergence phenomena, taking into account the effects on innovation dynamics and exogenous activities of a firm.1 Based on the idea that technological progress is undetermined by factors internal to the technology, Tushman and Rosenkopf (1992) propose that it rather is the interaction of technical options with intra- and inter-organizational dynamics that determine the actual path of technological progress. This will serve as an underlying conceptual foundation, in developing an understanding of the convergence phenomenon in this chapter.


Business Model Wireless Local Area Network Evolutionary Perspective Universal Mobile Telecommunication System Convergence Process 
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  1. 1.
    In evolutionary biology, the phenomenon of convergent evolution describes the process of unrelated organisms independently acquiring similar characteristics while evolving in separate and sometimes varying environmental systems. For example, convergent evolution can be observed in the similar nature of flight behavior and wing characteristics between insects, birds and bats. In each of these cases, the wings are same in function and similar in structure, but each of them evolved independently (cf. Doolittle, 1994).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    This comment is in line with the elaboration on complementary convergence based on Dowling et al. (1998) in section 2.2.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Scholars have previously built arguments based on relating the conceptions around technological convergence, spreading technological paradigms and broadening technological bases to an evolutionary perspective (cf. Cantwell and Fai, 1999; Dosi, 1988; Fai and von Tunzelmann, 2001; Lei, 2000; Sahal, 1985; Stieglitz, 2002, 2003; Teece et al., 1994).Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Cf. Hacklin, Adamsson, Marxt, and Norell (2005a); Hacklin, Bergman, Nyström, Marxt, and Jantunen (2005c); Johansson (2004)Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    In fact, a study by the recruitment firm Russell Reynolds Associates argues that convergence creates a major skills problem from an executive perspective. The survey results show that 65% of senior UK executives believe that convergence has created a skills gap, and furthermore indicate that there is a strong demand for employees demonstrating hybrid, cross sector expertise. In particular, executives perceive a need to acquire new skill sets for convergence, implying a need to look outside their traditional sector in order to get the right people. Currently, companies are not equipped to meet the staffing challenges and will need to develop a far greater awareness understanding of convergence and the industries that it spans (Williams, 2006).Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    Cf. Ballon (2004); Kawashima (2002); Quinn (2005); Ralph and Graham (2004); Rolland (2003); Sigurdson and Ericsson (2003)Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    Cf. Ciancetta, Colombo, Lavagnolo, and Grillo (1999); Edelmann, Koivuniemi, Hacklin, and Stevens (2006); Munoz and Rubio (2004); Steinbock (2005); Yang, Kim, Nam, and Moon (2004)Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    Cf. Bower (2001); Chan-Olmsted (1998); Collis et al. (1997); Dowling et al. (1998); Gong and Srinagesh (1996); Greenstein and Khanna (1997); Stieglitz (2003); Wirtz (2001); Yoffie (1997)Google Scholar
  9. 11.
    Cf. Bourgeois and Eisenhardt (1988); D’Aveni (1994); Eisenhardt (1989b); Eisenhardt and Tabrizi (1995); Galunic and Eisenhardt (1996); McKelvey (1999); Thomas (1996)Google Scholar
  10. 12.
    “Convergence does not describe the process of coadaptation but, rather, is one of its possible outcomes.” (Longstaff, 2001, p. 2)Google Scholar
  11. 17.
    Such an effect would then be in contrast with existing literature, e.g., Suarez and Utterback (1995); Utterback (1994), who claim that entry prior to dominant design is associated with lower probability of failure.Google Scholar
  12. 19.
    Functional fixedness is a cognitive bias that limits a person to using an object only in the way it is traditionally used (cf. Birch, 1945).Google Scholar
  13. 23.
    These observations related to vertical disintegration suggest consensus with previous conceptions in literature, e.g., the propositions by Pavitt (2004) as summarized in table 2.5 (chapter 2).Google Scholar
  14. 26.
    Similar observations were made in the work of Vesa (2006).Google Scholar
  15. 27.
    Cf. Anderson and Tushman (1990); Suarez and Utterback (1995); Utterback (1994)Google Scholar

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© Physica-Verlag Heidelberg 2008

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