Date of Award


Degree Type

Closed Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Managerial Sciences

First Advisor

William C. Bogner

Second Advisor

Pamela S. Barr

Third Advisor

Arun Rai

Fourth Advisor

Rajiv Nag

Fifth Advisor

Joseph T. Mahoney


In this dissertation I first develop a theoretical framework that explores different components of dynamic capabilities related to firm’s boundary-spanning linkages across two different types of inter-organizational activities - alliances and networks. I argue that there are four different subsets of dynamic capabilities simultaneously at work: alliance opportunity-sensing, alliance opportunity-seizing, network opportunity-sensing and network opportunity-seizing. Furthermore, I argue that there are significant interaction effects between these distinctive subsets driving the firm’s overall effectiveness in sensing and seizing of novel and innovative external opportunities. In order to explore potential interdependencies and draw distinctions among different dynamic capability subsets I integrate concepts from the two theoretical perspectives that often neglect the emphasis of the other - the dynamic capability view and the social network perspective. I then test the hypothesized relationships in the context of firms actively patenting in nanotechnology. Nanotechnology innovations are multidisciplinary in nature and require search and discovery across multiple inter-organizational, scientific, geographic, industry, or technological domains by a particular firm. The findings offer support for the conceptualizations of dynamic capabilities as consisting of distinct subsets of capabilities for the sensing and the seizing of external new-knowledge opportunities. The findings suggest that firm’s innovativeness in an interdisciplinary scientific field such as nanotechnology is the function of the vector of multi-dimensional dynamic capabilities that are context-specific. Furthermore, the findings also suggest that there are inherent trade-offs embedded in different dimensions of dynamic capabilities when deployed across a wide range of inter-organizational relationships.