Title: The effect of knowledge complexity on the strategic value of technological capabilities

Authors: Fernando E. Garcia-Muina, Eva Pelechano-Barahona, Jose Emilio Navas-Lopez

Addresses: Rey Juan Carlos University, P° Artilleros, s/n, Madrid 28032, Spain. ' Rey Juan Carlos University, P° Artilleros, s/n, Madrid 28032, Spain. ' Complutense de Madrid University, Campus de Somosaguas, s/n, Pozuelo de Alarcon 28223, Spain

Abstract: This paper analyses the relationships between knowledge complexity and technology-based competitive advantage sustainability via barriers to imitation and substitution of capabilities. The theoretical treatment of the complexity construct and the separate analysis of imitability and substitutability of technological assets contribute to improving our understanding of these relations. The empirical evidence from a sample of Spanish biotech companies indicates that complex capabilities are better protected from imitation. But the results for barriers to substitution show that an excessive proportion of complex tacit knowledge may have a negative effect on competitive advantage sustainability, as it reduces interested agents| confidence in the technology, and hence, encourages competitors to seek more attractive alternatives.

Keywords: knowledge complexity; sustainable competitive advantage; technological capabilities; capability imitation; capability substitution; Spain; biotech industry; biotechnology; barriers to substitution; tacit knowledge.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTM.2011.041581

International Journal of Technology Management, 2011 Vol.54 No.4, pp.390 - 409

Accepted: 03 Oct 2009
Published online: 06 Apr 2013 *

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