"Dominant Designs and the Survival of Firms"

"Dominant Designs and the Survival of Firms" (with James Utterback), Strategic Management Journal, vol. 16(6), 415-430, 1995.

We argue that the economic, population ecology, and strategy perspectives on firm survival must be complemented by a body of literature that has studied similar phenomena from the point of view of technology evolution and cycles (Abernathy and Utterback, 1978; Utterback and Suarez, 1993).

Applying survival analysis to data from six industries, we test the hypothesis that the competitive environment of an industry, and therefore the survival of its firms, is substantially affected by the evolution of the technology on which an industry is based, and particularly by the emergence of what Utterback and Abernathy (1975) termed a 'dominant design'. An implication of this idea is that population density could be thought of as being a reflection of underlying technological changes that shape the form and level of competition, the attractiveness of entry, and ultimately the structure of an industry.

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