Susan K. Cohen
Associate Professor of Business Administration
My prior work experience in the software development and consulting industries includes work for Accenture and Intersolv, consultant work for Fortune 1000 companies, and pro bono consulting for local start-ups.
My research examines how firms enhance their performance (innovation output and quality, survival, and profitability) through research and development activities. I am particularly interested in how firms manage tensions between acquiring, protecting, and leveraging their technological knowledge by structuring internal and external capabilities. My research shows that the complexity, specificity, and tacitness of a firm's technological knowledge may protect radical product innovations from imitation but not incremental innovations. Further, the extent to which a firm's complementary assets help it to profit from innovation depend on the degree to which they are exploratory or exploitative. I have identified trade-offs between learning and knowledge diffusion inherent in using modular design practices in the automobile industry. I am studying the implications of knowledge architectures for organizational architectures. My research also suggests that particular attributes of a firm's technological knowledge enable it to exploit certain positions in alliance networks better than others, has implications for a firm's vertical scope, and affects how incumbents can best respond to disruptive innovation. I draw on theories of innovation, technological change, modularity, organizational learning and adaptation, ecology, and social networks to investigate these issues. My work extends resource-based theory and the dynamic capabilities perspective by exploring the imitation and substitution, and their effects on sustainable performance advantages.