How Technological Competencies Help Define the Core (Not the Boundaries) of the Firm

Pari Patel and Keith Pavitt

in The Nature and Dynamics of Organizational Capabilities

Published in print November 2001 | ISBN: 9780199248544
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191596155 | DOI:
 How Technological Competencies Help Define the Core (Not the Boundaries) of the Firm

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The chapter studies technological capabilities across around 400 of the world's largest technologically active firms, as measured by their patenting activities. There found a robust evidence of competences diversified across multiple technological fields, quite inertial— although slowly changing over time—and distinctly different across firms—even if influenced by the sector of principal production activity of the firms themselves. Interestingly, these large firms show a range of technologies, which firms may acquire from outside, and in‐house knowledge necessary to utilize them. Most of these firms in addition to core technological competences possess ‘background’ competences located in broad technologies—such as machinery and chemical process—and ‘niche’ competences in particular technological sub‐fields: these firm‐specific technological profiles are proximate predictors of the core activities of the firm.

Keywords: capabilities; core competencies; heterogeneity of firms; knowledge; patenting; process; technological change; technology

Chapter.  7991 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Microeconomics

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