Inderscience Publishers

Causal ambiguity of technological competencies, human resource practices and competitive advantage

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Traditionally, it has been recognised that causal ambiguity of technology, by making it difficult for competitors to identify the technological competencies on which a particular firm bases its competitive advantage, represents an effective protection mechanism helping the firm to obtain superior performance. Recently, researchers have unearthed evidence that the effects of causal ambiguity also could be extended to the interior of the firm itself, hampering the diffusion of its own technological capabilities among its managers. In this case, the existence of causal ambiguity will have a negative impact on firm performance. The first aim of this article is to analyse both perspectives with the last end of establishing the net influence that causal ambiguity exerts on firm performance. The second one, to study how the high involvement human resources practices can help to solve this debate. With this in mind, a set of hypothesis is proposed and they will contrast using a sample of 258 Spanish manufacturing firms.

Keywords: causal ambiguity, technology transfer, imitation, human resource practices, technological competencies, firm performance, Spain, manufacturing industry, competitive advantage, knowledge transfer, human resource management, HRM, technological innovation

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