(De-)Institutionalizing Organizational Competence: Olivetti's Transition from Mechanical to Electronic Technology



A study of a competence-destroying technological transition at Italian office products firm Olivetti shows how a technological competence becomes institutionalized through the increasing convergence of its cognitive, moral, and pragmatic legitimacy, the power of organizational agents, and attainment and allocation of organizational resources. However, the reinforcing relationships between legitimacy, power, and resources may also be broken to aid in the de-institutionalization of an incumbent technology while placing the building blocks of its alternate. The study identifies four levers of technological transition: organizational separation, cooptation, exploiting contradictions and dissensus, and resource diversion.
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Carolien Heintjes