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An Examination of Dynamic Capabilities: Is Evolutionary Theory Underdetermined?

Management Research

ISSN: 1536-5433

Article publication date: 1 April 2008



Firms frequently need to update their capabilities in changing environments but face significant barriers to accomplish this goal due to the stickiness of their routines, local search constraints, bounded rationality, uncertain imitability, and causal ambiguity. Under high levels of uncertainty, dynamic capabilities are often externally oriented, involving acquisitions and alliances. However, nonunique but competitive predictions about the behavior of these capabilities arise from the evolutionary theory. We test these competitive hypotheses analyzing portfolios of acquisitions and alliances made by pharmaceutical firms in search of portfolios of biotech capabilities. The analysis of portfolios enables us to better identify “common practices” in the pharmaceutical industry than using a transactional‐level focus. We develop implications for the evolutionary theory and for managerial practice.



Vassolo, R.S. and Anand, J. (2008), "An Examination of Dynamic Capabilities: Is Evolutionary Theory Underdetermined?", Management Research, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 47-62.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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