Richard M. Cyert and Praveen Kumar

Strategies for Technological Innovation with Learning and Adaptation Costs

This paper attacks the problem of developing strategies for a firm to deal with technological change. We show that the product market strategies of the firm—including pricing, product positioning, and rent preemption strategies—can play a role in the efficient search for technology-related information when information search is costly and there are adaptation costs due to the presence of agency. We utilize a dynamic model of spatial competition with uncertain technological innovations in which firms can learn from each other about technological developments. Private information and agency conflicts are shown to increase the effective information search costs of incumbents, who then use interfirm learning to their advantage in equilibrium. This viewpoint also allows us to see the role of mergers and acquisitions, subsidiary formation, and internal R&D labs in a new light. The more general point is that organizational structures and, in particular, the differential distribution of information within the organization impose constraints on the information-search and adaptation strategies of the firm, and the formulation of product-market and R&D strategies serves to relax these constraints.