When dinosaurs fly: The role of firm capabilities in the ‘avianization’ of incumbents during disruptive technological change

Raja Roy, Curba M. Lampert, Irina Stoyneva

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Research Summary: Prior research suggests that large incumbents will become victims of disruptive technological change. We investigate the image sensor industry in which the emergence of CMOS sensors challenged the manufacturers of CCD sensors. Although this disruptive technological change led to the demise of CCD technology, it also led to avianization—or strategic renewal—for some incumbents, similar to how some dinosaurs survived the mass Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction by evolving into birds. We find that CCD manufacturers that did avianize were preadapted to the disruptive CMOS technology in that they possessed relevant complementary technologies and access to in-house users that allowed them to strategically renew themselves. Managerial Summary: We investigate the transition from CCD to CMOS image sensors in the digital image sensor industry. Although the emergence of CMOS sensors was disruptive to CCD sensors, we find that CCD sensor manufacturers such as Sony and Sharp successfully transitioned to manufacturing CMOS sensors. Contrary to popular press and prior academic research characterizing disruptive change as being a source of failure for large firms, our research reveals that firms that possess relevant complementary technologies and have access to in-house users are able to strategically renew themselves in the face of a disruptive threat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-284
Number of pages24
JournalStrategic Entrepreneurship Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Strategy and Management


  • complementary technologies
  • disruptive change
  • image sensors
  • in-house users
  • strategic renewal
  • technological change


Dive into the research topics of 'When dinosaurs fly: The role of firm capabilities in the ‘avianization’ of incumbents during disruptive technological change'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this