The Renewal of Mature Industries: An Examination of the Revival of the Dutch Beer Brewing Industry Defended on Thursday, 30 October 2014

Many mature industries have recently experienced a remarkable revival. Yet, other important industries appear to remain impervious to change. While the evolution of industries is an important topic in the industrial organization and organizational sociology literature, theorists struggle to explain the determinants of industry renewal. In particular, there is a dearth in theories that explain (1) the formation of new organizational identities in mature industries, (2) the successful founding of new organizations and (3) the mobilization of entrepreneurs.

In this dissertation, I build on the organizational sociology literature to forward an endogenous view on industry renewal arguing that the vulnerability of an industry toward renewal is determined by internal structural properties of the industry. Findings from three empirical studies of the recent revival of the Dutch beer brewing industry suggest that renewal is more likely in industries that (1) provide actors with a diverse reservoir of authentic identity elements for the formation of new organizational identities, (2) contain a significant number of ancestral organizations that left behind recyclable organizational elements, and (3) harbor a substantial number of actors that adhere to alternative ways of thinking compared to the industry’s “modus operandi”.

Jointly, these findings demonstrate the potency of research under the eclectic umbrella of organizational sociology to provide explanations for the structural vulnerability of industries toward renewal. In particular, this dissertation calls for more research on the role of organizational destruction in industry evolution. Indeed, destruction appears to be an important generative process and an improved understanding of the role of destruction in industry renewal may be crucial for inspiring renewal in industries dominated by organizations that are too big too fail.


Industry renewal, beer brewing industry, organizational detritus, organizational identity, institutional logics

  • Share on