A Scientific Critique of the Resource-Base View (RBV) in Strategy Theory, with Competence-Base Remedies for the RBV’s Conceptual Deficiencies and Logic Problems

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A Scientific Critique of the Resource-Base View (RBV) in Strategy Theory, with Competence-Base Remedies for the RBV’s Conceptual Deficiencies and Logic Problems

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Title: A Scientific Critique of the Resource-Base View (RBV) in Strategy Theory, with Competence-Base Remedies for the RBV’s Conceptual Deficiencies and Logic Problems
Author: Sanchez, Ron
Abstract: Part I of this paper applies the principles of the philosophy of science and the derived scientific method to analyze the foundational concepts and core proposition of the Resource-Based View (RBV) as popularized by Barney (1986, 1991, 1997). This analysis identifies seven fundamental conceptual deficiencies and logic problems in Barney’s conceptualization of "strategically valuable resources” and in Barney’s VRIO framework for identifying strategically valuable resources that can be sources of sustained competitive advantage. Three problems -- the Value Conundrum, the Tautology Problem in the Identification of Resources, and the Absence of a Chain of Causality -- relate to the RBV’s and VRIO’s failure to provide an adequate conceptual basis for identifying strategically valuable resources. The Uniqueness Dilemma, the Cognitive Impossibility Dilemma, and an Asymmetry in Assumptions about Resource Factor Markets result in an inability of the VRIO framework to support identification of resources that can be sources of sustained competitive advantage. More fundamentally, the core proposition of the RBV – that resources that are strategically valuable, rare, inimitable, and organizationally embedded are sources of sustainable competitive advantage – is argued to result directly in the Epistemological Impossibility Problem that precludes use of the scientific method in RBV research. This paper argues that until these conceptual deficiencies and logic problems are recognized and remedied, the RBV – in spite of its current popularity -- is and will remain theoretically sterile and incapable of contributing in any systematic way to the development of strategy theory. Part II of this paper then suggests how foundational concepts developed within the competence perspective on strategy provide essential remedies for the identified deficiencies and problems in the RBV -- and thereby provide a more conceptually adequate basis for representing the nature of firms in the scientific study of their interactions and competitive outcomes.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10398/7231
Date: 2008-11-18

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