Organizing R&D Consortia for Path Creation and Extension: The Case of Semiconductor Manufacturing Technologies

Jörg Sydow*, Arnold Windeler, Cornelius Schubert, Guido Möllering

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

75 Citations (Scopus)


Taking issue with the classical theory of path dependence, we capture the active agency involved in collective efforts aimed at extending a current technological path and, in parallel, at creating a new path in the field of leading-edge international semiconductor manufacturing. We apply structuration theory in order to analyse the practices of path constitution that traditional evolutionary views of lock-in and irreversibility in path processes have neglected. Drawing on 96 interviews since 2003 and extensive secondary sources in the field of semiconductor manufacturing in Europe, Japan and the United States, we perform a qualitative, longitudinal and multi-level case analysis; in this analysis we trace, in particular, the strategic development of a path-extending technological option besides a potentially path-breaking new generation of lithography for chip manufacturing systems. Our results provide deep insights into the collective and collaborative dimension of organizing R&D in processes of technology development. Thereby, we contribute to a theory of technological paths that considers collective embedded agency and takes into account interorganizational forms for an understanding of the innovation dynamics in science-based industries such as semiconductor manufacturing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)907-936
Number of pages30
JournalOrganization studies
Issue number7
Early online date13 Jul 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • innovation
  • organizational fields
  • path creation
  • path dependence
  • R&D consortia
  • semiconductor industry
  • structuration


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