Date of Award

2006

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Managerial Science and Applied Economics

First Advisor

Sidney G. Winter

Abstract

The replication of organizational routines is at the heart of gaining competitive advantage through leveraging the most important firm resource, knowledge. This dissertation fills important gaps in the literatures on replication, knowledge transfer, and the Resource Based View by extending our understanding of the dynamics of replication in three ways. First, it empirically tests the fundamental replication hypothesis that the use of a template in the replication process increases the effectiveness of the transfer. Second, it empirically explores the dimensions underlying various transfer methods, uncovering, in the process, the primary mechanisms involved in the replication process. Finally, it empirically explores the extent, effects, and causes of variation in replicator systems, concluding that the ability to manage variation is a key strategic capability in replicator firms. Concerning the first question, the effect of template use, the dissertation finds that template use increases the effectiveness of knowledge transfer. Concerning the second question, the underlying mechanisms, it finds the primary mechanisms to be Reference and Persuasion. The dissertation validates these labels and finds that they have a differential impact on transfer difficulty depending on the stage of the transfer process in which they are applied. Concerning the third question, variation in replicator firms, the dissertation finds that replicator firms exhibit significant degrees of variation both within and between units. It also finds that adaptation of the standardized business model has a curvilinear relationship with performance with moderate degrees of adaptation positively related. However, adaptation of any degree early or late in a unit's life is detrimental. It also finds that the most significant sources of unit level variation are differences in organizational inputs and differences in local environments. In total, the dissertation contributes to the body of knowledge concerning replication not only by filling specific gaps but suggesting that replication phenomena may be tractable to a variety of methods as all three essays are empirical in nature and use widely varying methods. Beyond the replication literature, the dissertation makes specific contributions to the larger body of literature on the Resource Based View, increasing our understanding of the dynamics of leveraging knowledge assets.

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