Date of Award

2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Management

First Advisor

Lori Rosenkopf

Abstract

In this dissertation, I examine firms' strategic actions and outcomes in multi-firm standards consortia, fast emerging as dominant organizational arrangements for coordinating technological change. Building on strategic networks, the resource-based view and technological change research, I demonstrate how firms' positions in technological (patent-based) and relational (alliance-based) networks affect their choices within and between technical standards organizations. Empirically, I focus on committees in the computer industry that devise peripheral interface standards.

The first essay studies firm-level factors that affect progress towards the coordinated standard. Highlighting how the multiplex nature of inter-organizational relationships affects voting behavior of firms, I find that the influence of network resources is contingent upon the type of inter-organizational tie (technological vs. relational). When these ties are considered jointly, firms possessing superior positions both networks exhibit higher support for its progress as they stand to benefit more from the adoption of the standard.

The second essay examines how divergence in member firms' interests may drive new inter-organizational relationships. Although firms that are peripheral in the technological network are disadvantaged with regard to knowledge relevance in the standard-setting process, I show that they can obtain relational benefits from technologically central firms. To enhance the standard's legitimacy by soliciting wide-ranging participation from firms, central firms may be motivated to forge such alliances.

In the final essay, I explore how firms navigate two competing standards - a voluntary standards committee and a sponsor-backed consortium. I examine and contrast firms' product introduction and patenting decisions on the sponsor-backed standard, arguing that while products accelerate the standard's adoption, patents hinder it. I find that while firms that possess prior technological and relational linkages with the sponsor firms tend to introduce more products but fewer patents, the opposite is observed for firms that are technologically central in the competing voluntary standards committee.

Overall the findings from this dissertation greatly enhance our understanding of firms' strategies in multi-organizational contexts that adjudicate technological change and shape technological evolution.