When Competitive Advantage Doesn't Lead to Performance: The Resource-Based View and Stakeholder Bargaining Power


What if rent from a competitive advantage is appropriated so it cannot be observed in performance measures? The resource-based view was not formulated to examine who will get the rent. Yet, this essay argues that the factors leading to a resource-based advantage also predict who will appropriate rent. Knowledge-based assets are promising because firm-specificity, social complexity, and causal ambiguity make them hard to imitate. However, the roles of internal stakeholders may grant them a great deal of bargaining power especially relative to investors. This essay integrates the resource-based view with the bar-gaining power literature by defining the firm as a nexus of con-tracts. This new lens can help to explain when rent will be generated and, simultaneously, who will appropriate it. In doing so, it provides a more robust theory of firm performance than the resource-based view alone. It is also suggested that this lens might be useful for examining other theories of firm perfor-mance.

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