I published a new open-access research article in Strategy Science on how a Chinese company was able to create a new-to-the-world innovation. The company is Tencent and the product is Wechat, which most Chinese people use every day.
Abstract: Chinese firms have been widely seen as imitative. This historical case study explores what organizational mechanisms allowed Tencent, a Chinese firm in the fast-changing instant messaging (IM) service sector, to achieve a new-to-the-world innovation with its WeChat smartphone app. Tracing the competitive dynamics in the Chinese IM sector from its inception, we found that Tencent was able to create the innovative WeChat product through a crisis-induced intrafirm coopetition dynamic that was embedded in variation-selection-retention evolutionary processes spanning the market, the firm, and the business unit levels. Building on the intrafirm coopetition and evolutionary literatures, the paper shows that three business units simultaneously competed and cooperated in developing alternative IM products while being exposed to market selection for survival. The coopetition dynamic took place in three key areas: technology, product promotion, and complementary assets of suppliers. The relative balance between competition and cooperation changed over time, and top management guidance and firm-level routines were essential in managing the challenges of coopetition within the firm. Read full article
At the Academy of Management Meeting, held on-line because of COVID, I presented this paper in two parts.
The first video gives a theorectical background for the paper (10min).