INTRODUCTION One of the fundamental missions of strategic management research is to investigate and explain differences in performance among firms. The reigning incumbent explanation for the heterogeneity of firm economic performance is based on the concept of competitive advantage. More work has focused on the expanded concept of sustained competitive advantage, which, simply put, is the idea that some forms of competitive advantage are very difficult to imitate and can therefore lead to persistent superior economic performance. Popular extant theories of competitive advantage in strategic management research, based on industrial organization economics (Porter, 1980, 1985) and the resource-based view (RBV) of the firm (Barney, 1991; Conner, 1991), predict that the factors that sustain competitive advantages will generate superior economic performance that persists over time. On the other hand, historical economic theories such as those arising from neoclassical economics and the work of the Austrian school of economics (Schumpeter, 1934), as well as the hypercompetitive model (Brown and Eisenhardt, 1997, 1998; D’Aveni, 1994) of strategy, predict the opposite: that temporal dynamics, resulting from factors such as imitation, entry, and the introduction of substitutes, will erode almost all competitive advantages, and thus prevent superior economic performance from persisting. More recently, Foster and Kaplan (2001) have presented an empirically based, managerial view of the transitory nature of competitive advantage and some of the economic and management mechanisms that generate it. The central questions addressed by the resource-based view concern why firms differ and how they achieve and sustain competitive advantage. Penrose (1959) argued...
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