How organizational identity affects incumbents' adaptation to discontinuous technological changes : An empirical study in the German book publishing industry
We work to unbundle the relationship between organizational identity and organizational adaptation to discontinuous technologies. While organizational identity has been envisaged as an impediment to the adoption of technological discontinuities by the majority of scholars, other research has recently portrayed organizational identity as a driver for change. We provide an explorative basis to reconcile these contradictions by dissecting elements of organizational identity that exacerbate organizational inertia and constitu-ents of organizational identity that enable organizations to respond earlier and more flexibly to environmental changes. Using field data on the response patterns of German publishing houses to the emergence of digitization and internet-enabled business models, we identify four distinct types of organizational identity, which we metaphorically label as Mercenaries, Knights, Villeins, and Samu-rai. These four identity types vary with regard to two dimensions of identity: focus, which ranges from highly intra- to highly extra domain focused, and locus of legitimacy, which ranges from highly self-related to highly environment-related. Furthermore, we propose that each of the four types of organizational identity entails a characteristic pattern of adaptation that is idiosyncratic regard-ing the response timing, the activeness versus passiveness of the response, and the type of active response strategies. Our re-search adds to the emerging stream of research on cognitive-emotional determinants of organizational adaptation, particularly by providing a framework that explains how variation in the identity of organizations causes variations in those organizations' adoption of technological discontinuities. We also enhance knowledge on family businesses by showing that family influenced businesses are more likely to develop an intra-domain focus, which ultimately engenders a passive or defensive response behavior.
contribution to scientific community
TIE Tagung 2012
VHB Association for Business Research
TIE Tagung 2012: Jahrestagung der Kommission Technologie, Innovation und Entrepreneurship