Non-cognitive microfoundations: understanding dynamic capabilities as idiosyncratically refined sensitivities and predispositions

Ajit Nayak (Corresponding Author), Robert Chia, J. Ignacio Canales

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Abstract

The dynamic capabilities framework has been used to explain how firms successfully adapt to changing environments. However, tensions exist in the literature surrounding the idiosyncratic, tacit and hence inimitable nature of dynamic capabilities. The literature struggles to explain in cognitivist terms how such firm capabilities are acquired in the first instance. In this paper, we argue that a firm’s dynamic capabilities rest upon a tacitly-shared substrate of sensitivities and predispositions that precede cognitive representation. These sensitivities and predispositions are typically transmitted and shared unconsciously through social practices rather than through formal instruction. They provide the microfoundational substrate of capabilities that enable a firm to effectively respond by orienting its members towards external environmental challenges in a manner unique to the firm’s history. Such sensitivities and predispositions provide an organizational modus operandi for members to reconfigure capabilities and resources and to capitalize on the opportunities arising therefrom.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)280-303
Number of pages24
JournalAcademy of Management Review
Volume45
Issue number2
Early online date21 Apr 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

Keywords

  • microfoundations
  • affordances
  • habitus
  • empirical sensitivity
  • skilled adaptive action
  • entrepreneurial fitness
  • adaptive advantage
  • EXAPTATION
  • STRATEGY
  • PERFORMANCE
  • INNOVATION
  • COGNITION
  • ROUTINES
  • LEADERSHIP
  • SCIENCE
  • FOUNDATIONS
  • ARRANGEMENTS

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