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Innovations, strategic organizational actions, and sailing-ship effect: illustrated with an IT product

Lakshminarayana Kompella (School of Management, National Institute of Technology Warangal, Warangal, India)

Journal of Science and Technology Policy Management

ISSN: 2053-4620

Article publication date: 17 January 2024




In socio-technical transition theory, resistance by existing technology and regime resistance plays a key role. The resistance is in the form of intentional improvements; eventually, the regime destabilizes and adopts the new technology, referred to as the sailing-ship effect. Researchers used a structural view and examined it as a strategic action and its relationship with new technology (competitive/symbiotic) in non-fast-changing sailing systems. This study uses a microlevel view and examines it in a fast-changing where products/services are developed by integrating existing technology with new product innovations; their success depends on addressing technical/market uncertainty. This study examines the sailing-ship effect in a fast-changing system and contributes to the socio-technical transition theory.


The authors need to examine the phenomena of the sailing-ship effect in its setting, and a case-study method is appropriate. The selected case provided diverse analytic and heuristic perspectives to examine the phenomena; therefore, it was a single case study.


In an IT scenario, the strategic actions decide and realize agility and competitive advantage by formulating appropriate goals with required budgets and coevolutionary changes to resources at product, process and organizational levels, addressing technical/market uncertainty. Moreover, the agility displayed by strategic actions determines the relationship with new technology, which is interspersed. Finally, it provided insights into struggle, navigation and negotiations, forming strategic actions to display the sailing-ship effect.

Research limitations/implications

The study selected a Banking Financial Services and Insurance product of an IT Services company. As start-ups exhibit inherent (emergent) agility, the authors can examine agility as a combination of emergent and strategic actions by selecting a start-up.

Practical implications

The study highlights the strategic actions specific to an IT services company. It developed its product and services by steering clear from IT innovations such as native cloud and continuous deployment. It improved its products/services with necessary organizational changes and achieved the desired agility and competitive advantage. Therefore, organizations devise appropriate strategic actions to combat the sailing-ship effect apart from setting goals and selecting IT innovations.


The study expands the socio-technical transition theory by selecting a fast-changing system. It provided insights into the relationship between existing and new technology and the strategic actions necessary to manage technical and market uncertainty and achieve the desired competitive advantage, or the sailing-ship effect.



Disclosure statement: The author reported no potential conflict of interest.

Data availability: The data supporting this study’s findings are available in Mendeley Data:

Since acceptance of this article, the following author have updated their affiliation: Lakshminarayana Kompella is at the T A Pai Management Institute, Manipal Academy of Higher Education, Manipal.


Kompella, L. (2024), "Innovations, strategic organizational actions, and sailing-ship effect: illustrated with an IT product", Journal of Science and Technology Policy Management, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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