Can a Darwinian nomenclature help reconcile alternative perspectives of the dynamic capabilities view?
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The confusion concerning the theoretical roots of the dynamic capabilities view and the fact that it was often being positioned as an extension to the resource-based view in strategic management, prompted a paper by Galvin, Rice, and Liao (2014) that suggested that the dynamic capabilities view would benefit from adopting a more explicit Darwinian approach. In response to this paper, Arndt and Bach (2015) highlighted that the seminal papers in the field do indeed take an evolutionary perspective and that in operationalizing the variation–selection–retention cycle in an empirical setting it is necessary to move away from firm performance as a dependent variable and instead use survival, which more closely aligns with the concept of natural selection. In this paper, we respond to this recent critique to articulate the benefits of a Darwinian nomenclature and how this will assist in positioning the dynamic capabilities view as an independent, though complementary, theory to the resource-based view. However, we do clearly recognize that until the key terms of variation, selection and retention can be operationalized at the routine, firm and industry level, such an approach may not in itself bring the field towards a common understanding of how dynamic capabilities operate in different environments.
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