My research has so far spanned two main areas of investigation that over the years have gradually evolved into two distinct but increasingly complementary research streams. The first stream deals with a core strategy question, that is, how firms can sustain their competitive advantage in the face of technological change. While strategy research typically traces differences in the ability to innovate to a priori heterogeneity in initial conditions, whether such differences result from strategic foresight or historical accidents (luck) is unclear. The precise role of luck and foresight in the evolution of technology is obviously difficult to estimate. Indeed, a firm’s history very often endows it with knowledge for reasons that are unrelated to that knowledge’s application in new areas of opportunity. I analyze this question of intentionality by looking at how that knowledge is leveraged in a different application domain (e.g., a new market or industry) from that in which it originally accumulated.
In my second stream of research I examine the question of how novelty (e.g., an idea, product, technology, artifact, etc.) obtains legitimacy. I consider audience-based legitimation processes that enable this novelty to be recognized and accepted in a given field. Specifically, I identify audience level features that might facilitate/impede the formation of consensus by looking at the impact that the existence of multiple audiences and heterogeneity in audience membership has on consensus formation. I also explore how candidates’ features and attributes, as captured by their structural position within the social field, influence their ability to appeal to relevant audiences.