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Knightian uncertainty and risk: A basis for untangling dynamic capabilities from operational capabilities

Ramesh Dangol (Williamsons College of Business Administration, Youngstown State University, Youngstown, Ohio, USA)
Anthony Kos (Williamsons College of Business Administration, Youngstown State University, Youngstown, Ohio, USA)

Journal of Strategy and Management

ISSN: 1755-425X

Article publication date: 11 November 2014

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to propose a new way to distinguish a firm’s dynamic capabilities from operational capabilities.

Design/methodology/approach

Conceptual paper/literature review.

Findings

Current literature on dynamic capabilities posits that dynamic capabilities are those firm capabilities that can induce change in other capabilities, while operational capabilities are static. Distinguishing between these capabilities in this manner is not helpful because changes occur continuously in all capabilities to at least some extent. In addition, empirical studies show that even task-level operational capabilities can change on their own and can induce change in other capabilities. In contrast to focussing on the presence or lack of change to determine if a capability is dynamic or operational, this paper distinguishes between them by determining a priori the expected nature of the outcome. By focussing on the outcomes of change rather than the changes themselves, this paper proposes that capabilities should be considered operational if they produce outcomes that can be predicted using probability distribution while those capabilities that produce outcomes that cannot be predicted using probability distribution should be considered dynamic.

Research limitations/implications

Future research on dynamic capabilities should not only investigate whether or not change is occurring, but the outcome of change to understand whether a change is precipitated by dynamic or operational capabilities.

Originality/value

Existing dynamic capabilities literature is unclear about how to distinguish between dynamic capabilities from operational capabilities. Previous research attempts to distinguish these capabilities by arguing dynamic capabilities are those firm capabilities that can induce change in other capabilities, while operational capabilities are static and do not induce change. This is not particularly helpful. A clear distinction between dynamic and operational capabilities could facilitate further advancement of the dynamic capability literature; this study makes a rudimentary effort to distinguish between them.

Keywords

Citation

Dangol, R. and Kos, A. (2014), "Knightian uncertainty and risk: A basis for untangling dynamic capabilities from operational capabilities ", Journal of Strategy and Management, Vol. 7 No. 4, pp. 337-353. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSMA-02-2014-0010

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited