Abstract

In recent years, the notion of “disruptive technologies” has gained currency within the academic and practitioner communities as a mode by which novel products and services impact existing industries and firms. This work focuses on the lack of appropriate action on the part of incumbent actors in response to such technologies that consequently lead to newcomers becoming prominent players in the evolving industry landscape. However, little research attention has been devoted to the challenges that startups face in commercializing innovations intended to disrupt existing industries and displace well-established incumbents. In this paper, we tackle this precise issue. Our underlying thesis is that for newcomer firms to make a lasting impact, they need to craft viable markets for their innovations. This, in turn, involves gaining a deep appreciation of the institutional environment within which an extant technology is embedded. Furthermore, it is often crucial for startups to (re)configure the institutional landscape in order for their disruptive technologies to gain traction within an industry. Conversely, the inability to influence these elements can result in the disruptive innovation having a minimal impact on industry evolution.

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