Inter-Generational Hybrids: Spillbacks, Spillforwards, and Surviving Technology Discontinuities

Furr, Nathan R and Snow, Daniel (2015) Inter-Generational Hybrids: Spillbacks, Spillforwards, and Surviving Technology Discontinuities. Organization Science, 26 (2). pp. 475-493.


Knowledge recombination forms the foundation of most innovation and frequently involves the recombination of contemporary, or intra-generational, knowledge. However, a second, rarely studied form of recombination can also profoundly shape innovation and the resulting technology contests: inter-generational recombination. Inter-generational knowledge recombination during a technology discontinuity combines knowledge from an old technical generation and a new, threatening technological generation to create an inter-generational hybrid. Although some work has suggested such inter-generational hybrids may be the result of organizational dysfunction, another view suggests they may be sophisticated learning tools. In this paper we explore this tension, suggesting two ways in which inter-generational knowledge recombination may impact organization adaptation and technology strategy: Spillbacks and spillforwards. Specifically, we observe that, dependent on their knowledge investments, some organizations developing inter-generational hybrids capture spillback benefits: knowledge spillovers from a competing technology generation to the current generation. Furthermore, we find that those same organizations also capture spillforwards: Spillover benefits from developing inter-generational hybrids that improve their survival chances and their product performance in a future technology generation. These results suggest that inter-generational hybrids may be a missing stepping stone, within boundary conditions, for organizations to adapt to a technology discontinuity.

Item Type: Article
Subject(s): Operations management
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2018 13:46
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2018 14:29

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