Using Simulation Experiments to Test Historical Explanations

I wanted to test with a computer simulation the explanations I offered in my book Knowledge and Competitive Advantage: The Coevolution of Firms, Technology and National Institutions for why German firms overtook their French and British competitors in the Synthetic Dye Industry from 1857-1913. So I partnered with Thomas Brenner who has created a simulation model that can replicate the key stylistic facts we know about firm and industry growth patterns. Our paper is now published online the Journal of Evolutionary Economics.
Conducting Simulation Experiments to Test Historical Explanations: The Development of the German Dye Industry 1857-1913

Abstract: In a simulation experiment, building on the abductive simulation approach of Brenner and Werker (2007), we test historical explanations for why German firms came to surpass British and France firms and to dominate the global synthetic dye industry for three decades before World War 1 while the U.S. never achieved large market share despite large home demand. Murmann and Homburg (2001) and Murmann (2003) argued that German firms came to dominate the global industry because of (1) the high initial number of chemists in Germany at the start of the industry in 1857, (2) the high responsiveness of the German university system and (3) the late (1877) introduction of a patent regime in Germany as well as the more narrow construction of this regime compared to Britain, France and the U.S. We test the validity of these three potential explanations with the help of simulation experiments.  The experiments show that the 2nd explanation—the high responsiveness of the German university system— is the most compelling one because unlike the other two it is true for virtually all plausible historical settings.

Download Paper

“The Moon and the Ghetto” revisited by Richard Nelson

Richard Nelson explained why is worthwhile to revisit his book.

Over thirty years ago I wrote an extended essay, The Moon and the Ghetto, concerned with the troubling question of why societies so rich and capable technologically and organizationally as to be able to land a man on the moon seemed unable to deal effectively with e.g. poverty, illiteracy, slums. I argued that, while politics was part of the reason, in many cases the problem was that our scientific knowledge and technological know-how was not sufficient to point the way to a solution. The general problem of the great unevenness of human progress has not gone away. The questions explored in this seminar are, first, what lies behind the great unevenness of scientific and technological progress. And second, under what conditions does it make sense to seek a solution to a problem by trying to develop stronger know-how. Can progress be made by reorienting our innovation systems?

You can watch his lecture given at INGENIO in Spain on Youtube.

Nelson Ghetto

“China’s Innovation Challenge” published with Cambridge University Press

Arie Lewin, Martin Kenney and Johann Peter Murmann edited a new book on China’s Innovation Challenge: Overcoming the Middle-Income Trap.

New March 2016: Download Fronter Matter and Introductory Chapter

The book will also feature contributions from Justin Yifu Lin, Gordon Redding, Michael Witt, Keun Lee, Douglas Fuller, John Child, Simon Collison, Yves Doz, Keeley Wilson, Silvia Massini, Keren Caspin-Wagner, Eliza Chilimoniuk-Przezdziecka,  Weidong Xia, Mary Ann Von Glinow, Yingxia Li,  Zhi-Xue Zhang and Weiguo Zhong, Chi-Yue Chiu, Shyhnan Liou, and Letty Y-Y. Kwan, and Rosalie Tung.

Detailed Table of Contents

Join discussion and get updates on the book by following its Facebook Page.

China Innovation

The role of home country demand in the internationalization of new ventures

My article with Salih Ozdemir and Deepak Sardana was just published in Research Policy.

Abstract: International new ventures (INVs) have been documented to exist all around the world, but the literature is silent on the frequency of such companies in different countries. We contend that the propensity of new ventures to internationalize by forming international partnerships is higher in small-domestic demand countries because they have a greater motivation given their limited local demand. After discussing the methodological challenges in testing this hypothesis, we do such a test by studying alliances in the health segment of the biotech industry in relatively small-domestic demand countries (Australia, Israel, and Taiwan) and by comparing the results with five large-domestic demand countries (UK, Germany, France, US, and Japan). We find that young firms in the countries with smaller domestic demand are at least 3 times more likely to enter into international partnerships than their counterparts in countries with larger domestic demand. We further demonstrate that this difference can primarily be explained by the difference in the size of domestic healthcare markets rather than other underlying opportunity structure related factors.

Keywords: International new ventures; Internationalization; Small vs. large demand countries; Young biotechnology firms; International partnerships; Business development partnerships

Highlights of article

Read and Download Full Article here

Joel Mokyr Sees no End to Innovation

Mokyr points out the modern GDP measures are not accounting for improvements in quality of products and life.
He sees no end to innovation. Basic science needs to be funded by governments because private individuals and corporations cannot appropriate the returns from these investments. He sees culture that encourages natural skepticism of students as a key ingredient for furthering innovation of a country.

AOM 2013: Two workshops I am participating in: History and Design Evolution

History and Strategy: Toward an Integration of Theory and Method History and Strategy

New Presentation Slides for Download. Click here.
Program Session #: 80 | Submission: 14401 | Sponsor(s): (BPS, MH, TIM)
Scheduled: Friday, Aug 9 2013 11:45AM - 1:45PM at WDW Swan Resort in Swan 10

Organizer: Steven Kahl; Dartmouth College (TUCK);
Organizer: Brian S. Silverman; U. of Toronto;
Participant: David A. Kirsch; U. of Maryland;
Participant: Huseyin Leblebici; U. of Illinois;
Participant: J Peter Murmann; Australian School of Business, UNSW;

While historical research has played a central role in the development of the strategy literature, it remains underrepresented in strategy journals. This PDW explores how historical analysis can inform strategy research. As the strategy field continues to develop dynamic models of strategy, the historical perspective can provide unique perspective, and could potentially even develop a history-based theory of strategy. Yet, doing historical research in strategy faces methodological challenges given its different approach to the development of theory and use of evidence. Consequently, this PDW addresses the different opportunities available to strategy scholars to engage in the historical method. The format of the PDW is a combination of 1) presentations in which scholars experienced in conducting historical analysis within the strategy and organizational fields discuss the challenges of doing this work and 2) interactive breakout sessions in which participants break into smaller groups to discuss design of a historical study in topical strategy research areas, such as dynamic capabilities and industry evolution. These breakout sessions will help identify how the historical approach can make novel theoretical contributions and reveal roadmaps for pushing this work further.

Search Terms: History/Historical Analysis , Strategy , Theory and Methods

Architectural Strategy and Design Evolution in Business Ecosystems: Opportunities and Challenges
Ecosystem Design and Strategy

Program Session #: 279 | Submission: 10331 | Sponsor(s): (TIM, BPS, ENT, OMT)
Scheduled: Saturday, Aug 10 2013 10:15AM - 12:45PM at WDW Swan Resort in Swan 3


Honoring the late Steve Klepper

Steve Klepper, who has been an inspiration to so many of us, recently passed away. At the 20th anniversary of the CCC colloquium, we honored Steve Klepper. The video captures very nicely how much Steve touched an entire generation of doctoral students working on the intersection of industry evolution and technological innovation.


Nelson, Richard R. (born 1930)

This short article is my entry on Richard R. Nelson in the Encyclopedia of Strategic Management

Richard R. Nelson (b. 1930) is an American economist who has had a significant influence on the field of strategic management. The fundamental question driving his work is how societies can be organized to improve their material well-being. In answering this question, Nelson identifies sustained technological innovation and a diverse range of often industry-specific institutional structures as the key engines of economic growth. He sees business firms as playing a key role in the growth process because firms are the carriers of the knowledge and abilities required to produce the complex product and services that characterize modern economies.

Keywords: evolutionary theory, firms, innovation, organizational capabilities, patents, Carnegie School, RAND Corporation; science policy, tacit knowledg