Inflection points and industry change: Was Andy Grove right after all?

DOI
10.15415/jtmge.2016.71001

AUTHORS

Fred Phillips, G. George Hwang and Pornpimol Limprayoon

ABSTRACT

We examine whether the ‘strategic inflection points’ described by former Intel CEO Andy Grove correspond to mathematical inflection points in the product/technology life cycle. We find one sense in which they do and two senses in which they do not. This leads to a mapping of colloquial uses of inflection point, tipping point, volatility, chaos, and turbulence against the scientific definitions of these terms. The mapping should be of use to researchers and educators, and also suggests to managers that the possibility of foresight and control in technology-dependent industries is more sharply limited than generally believed. The paper highlights implications for organizational sustainability and offers possible coping mechanisms for managers and directions for educators and researchers.

KEYWORDS

Inflection points; resistance to change; technology forecasting; innovation adoption; change management.

REFERENCES

  • Ansoff, I. and McDonnell, E. (1990), ‘Implanting Strategic Management’ (2nd Ed)., USA. Prentice Hall PTR.
  • Australian Academy of Science (2006) ‘A quiet revolution – the science of complex systems’, (online), (cited 24 April 2010). Available from http://www.science.org.au/nova/094/094key.htm
  • Ausubel,   J.H., Grüler, A., and  Nakicenovic, N. (1988) ‘Carbon dioxide emissions in a methane economy’, Climatic  Change, XII, 3, pp. 245-263. http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1007/BF00139432.
  • Bass, F.M. (1969)   ‘A new product growth model for consumer durables’, Management Science, XV, 5, pp. 215-227. http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.15.5.215.
  • Brinker, S. (2008) ‘A new  s  curve for search engine ads?’ Chief Marketing Technologist Blog, (online) (cited 6 April 2010). Available from http://www.chiefmartec.com/2008/04/a-new-s-curve-f.html
  • Boswijk, H.P. and Franses, P.H. (2005) ‘On the Econometrics of the Bass Diffusion Model’, Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, XXIII, 3, pp. 255-268. http://dx.doi.org/10.1198/073500104000000604
  • Caplan, B. (1999) ‘The Austrian Search for Realistic Foundations’, Southern Economic Journal, LXV, 4, pp. 823-838.
  • Christensen, C.M. (1998), ‘The Innovator’s Dilemma’, HarperBusiness Essentials.
  • Dimov, S., Hines, P., Naim, M., Wong, H., Bigot, S., and Dorrington, P. (2008) ‘Work module 5: Technological Forecasting’, Technology Management for Emerging and Disruptive Manufacturing Technologies, Cardiff University (online) (cited 25 October 2010). Available from http://www.cuimrc.cf.ac.uk/node/226
  • Drucker, P. (1968), ‘The Age of Discontinuity’, Harpercollins.
  • Drucker, P. (1993), ‘ Managing in Turbulent Times’, Harper Paperbacks.
  • Fisher, J., and Pry, R. (1971) ‘A simple substitution model of technological change’, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, III, pp. 75-88. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0040-1625(71)80005-7.
  • Foreign Policy, (2009) ‘The Axis of Upheaval: A special report on the coming age of instability’, Foreign Policy, April, pp. 56-81.
  • Fourt, L.A., and Woodlock, J.W. (1960) ‘Early prediction of market success for new grocery products’, Journal of Marketing, XXV, 2, pp. 31-38.
  • Funk, J.L. (2008) ‘Components, systems and technological discontinuities: Lessons from the  IT  sector’, Long Range Planning, XLI, 5, pp. 555-573.
  • Gladwell, M. (2000), ‘The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference’, London. Abacus.
  • Grove, A.S. (1996a), ‘Only the paranoid survive: How to exploit the crisis points that challenge every company and career, New York. Currency  Doubleday.
  • Grove, A.S. (1996b) ‘Only the  paranoid  survive: Book preface’, (online) (cited 1 March 2009). Available from
  • Grove, A.S. (1999) ‘Global executive: Intel’s Andrew Grove on competitiveness’, The Academy of Management Executive, XIII, 1, pp. 15-24.
  • Jonas, W. (2005), ‘Mosby’s Dictionary of Complementary and Alternative Medicine’, (1st Ed)., Elsevier. http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/acm.2005.11.739.
  • Kaplan, S., Murray, F., and Henderson, R. (2003) ‘Discontinuities and senior management: assessing the role of recognition in pharmaceutical firm response to biotechnology’, Industrial and Corporate Change, XII, 2, pp. 203-233. http://dx.doi.org/ 10.1093/icc/12.2.203.
  • Kelly, K. (1995), ‘Out of  control: The  new  biology of  machines, social  systems, & the  economic  world’, (Reprint Ed)., New York. Basic Books.
  • Laakso, K., & Palomäki, J. (2013). The importance of a common understanding in emergency management. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 80(9), 1703–1713. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2012.12.012.
  • Levitt, T. (1965) ‘Exploit the Product Life Cycle’, Harvard Business  Review, XLIII, 6, pp. 81-94.
  • Linstone, H.A. (1999) ‘Complexity science: Implications for forecasting’, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, LXII, 1-2, pp. 79-90.
  • Loch, C. H., & Huberman, B. a. (1999). A Punctuated-Equilibrium Model of Technology Diffusion. Management Science, 45(2), 160–177. http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.45.2.160 Modis, T. (2002) ‘Forecasting the growth of complexity and change’, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, LXIX, 2, pp. 377-404.
  • Modis, T., and Debecker, A. (1992) ‘Chaos-like states can be expected before and after logisticgrowth’,  Technological Forecasting and Social Change, XLII, 2, pp. 111-120.
  • Moin, P., and Kim, J. (1997) ‘Tackling Turbulence with Supercomputers’, Scientific American, CCLXXVI, 1, pp. 62-68.
  • Moore, G.A. (2002), ‘Crossing the  chasm: Marketing and  selling  disruptive  products to  mainstream  customers’ (rev. Ed.), New York. HarperBusiness.
  • National Science Foundation Advisory committee for Environmental Research and Education (2009) ‘Transitions and Tipping Points in Complex Environmental Systems’ (online) (cited 24 April 2010). Available from www.nsf.gov/geo/ere/ereweb/ac-ere/nsf6895_ere_report_090809.pdf.
  • Phillips, F. (1985) ‘Advanced DSS  design in  consumer and  marketing  research’, DSS’85: Fifth International Conference on Decision Support Systems. Anthologised in  Decision Support Systems: Putting Theory into Practice, eds. Sprague, R., and H. Watson, 1986, Eaglewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.
  • Phillips, F. (2001), ‘Market-oriented  technology  management: Innovating for  profit in  entrepreneurial  times’, Heidelberg. Springer Verlag.
  • Phillips, F. (2007) ‘On  s-curves and  tipping  points’, Technological Forecasting  and  Social Change, LXXIV, 6, p. 715-730.
  • Phillips, F., and Kim, N. (1996) ‘Implications of chaos research for new product forecasting’, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, LIII, 3, pp. 239-261.
  • Phillips, F., and Su, Y.-S. (2009) ‘Chaos, strategy, and  action: How not to fiddle while Rome burns’, International Journal of Innovation and Technology Management. Vol.10, No. 6, pp.1-19, December.
  • Prigogine, I., (1984), ‘Order Out of Chaos’, Bantam.
  • Rai, A., Ravichandran, T., & Samaddar, S. (1998). Global Diffusion. Communications of the ACM, 41(10), 97–106.
  • Ruppel, A. (1997) ‘Reflections on Inflections’, Decision Line, 28, 01, (online) (cited 19 April 2009). Available from http://www.decisionsciences.org/decisionline/VOL28/28_1/books.htm.
  • Seet, S.P. (2005) ‘Managing in Turbulent Environments: Igor Ansoff’s Strategic Success Model’, Singapore Institute of Management, Management News, (online) (cited 24 April 2010). Available from
  • Smith, K.A. (2009) ‘Only the Paranoid Survive: How to Exploit the Crisis Point That Challenge Every Company and Career’, Journal of Engineering Education, (online) (cited 19 April 2009). Available from  http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3886/is_199904/ai_n8835656/
  • Sood, A.J., and Tellis, G.J. (2004) ‘The s-curve of  technological evolution: strategic  law or self-fulfilling prophecy?’, Marketing Science Institute Working Paper, (online) (cited 20 April 2009). Available from
  • Wolfram, S. (2002), ‘A New Kind of Science’ (1st Ed.), Wolfram Media.

RNI Registration No. CHAENG/2016/68678