The second assignment a course I teach asks students to theorize and analyze, again in a 1000-word essay. This time, the evidentiary basis for their essays is an interview with Impossible Foods CEO Patrick Brown on Vergecast, but the rules are same as the first assignment.

By now, students have had more classes and have been exposed to issues around organizing for innovation (forms of ambidexterity, absorptive capacity and communities of practice), management of innovation projects (direct and indirect forms, and how to deal with hidden innovation), and the marketing of new technologies (adopters in early and later markets, category emergence and order-of-entry effects).

I found the interview really interesting in lots of respects upon re-hearing it, but used my essay to raise a relatively narrow question (there is only so much you can do in 1000 words): is it reasonable to assume that Navis & Glynn’s model holds when market actors differ in their technological capabilities? Of course you could write theses about that, but the essay suggests that we at least entertain the hypothesis (with all the caveats that such a limited and biased evidentiary basis implies) that unambiguous technological leadership reduces the benefits to technology leaders of a shared category identity and that this would entail that we expect Navis & Glynn’s model to not apply when one (or a few) actors are unambiguously in the technological lead. In a funny way, while this suggests a further boundary condition to their theory, this actually strengthens Navis & Glynns argument that the conventional logic of competition does not apply in pre-legitimate markets. When market categories are not yet legitimate, more competitive entry may benefit industry actors, but only if new entrants are able to catch up to the technological frontier. In mature markets, the opposite would be the case. I liked that quirk so much that this case will be added to the textbook that I’m writing for the course in its next revision.

My essay is here.

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