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Managing organizational capabilities: the Keystone step

Daniel Degravel (Department of Management, College of Business & Economics, California State University, Northridge, California, USA)

Journal of Strategy and Management

ISSN: 1755-425X

Article publication date: 9 August 2011




This paper seeks to contribute to the RBV by focusing on a central construct, the “Keystone step”, within the firms' capability management field. It aims at providing a conceptual framework for top managers to understand the main related issues and steps, and to position their own organizational perspective.


The study explores the associated conceptual and empirical literature, borrowing from a strategic and a cognitive perspective, and defines and characterizes the central construct.


The author identifies a three‐step managerial process to handle capabilities: the Analytical step, the Action step, and the Keystone step. After briefly reviewing the resource‐based view, he suggests definitions and critical dimensions to design a conceptual frame articulated around the Keystone step, within which top managers can position and build their own approach. The critical founding rationale of capability management, rooted in underlying assumptions and beliefs, often implicit, hidden or neglected, increases the odds of blind managerial conceptual foundations. The author's claim focuses on the criticality of the Keystone step and the necessity of introspection to achieve sound strategic and capabilities‐related decisions.


Managers must recognize the importance of the Keystone step, devote resources to understand their own organizational “RBV position”, and acknowledge the mental flexibility to do so. The RBV should shift from an epistemology of “possession” to an epistemology of “embodiment”.


The paper offers an original vision of the capabilities management within the RBV, details out the issues of the current conceptual foundation of that managerial activity, and offers propositions for the Keystone step construct.



Degravel, D. (2011), "Managing organizational capabilities: the Keystone step", Journal of Strategy and Management, Vol. 4 No. 3, pp. 251-274.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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