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The hybrid trap: Why most efforts to bridge old and new technology miss the mark

Fernando F. Suarez / James Utterback / Paul von Gruben / Kang, Hye Young

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Abstract

Technological transitions are challenging, particularly for companies in mature industries. Incumbents are frequently blindsided by new technologies, fully missing opportunities to enter emerging markets early. While some established companies do possess the awareness and dexterity to become early adopters of new technologies, they typically lack the vision and the commitment to become leaders. Too often, they cling to the familiar, developing hybrid products that combine elements of the old and the new. The trouble is, hybrid strategies put even the best incumbent companies in a weak position when the market finally embraces the new technology. We call this the "hybrid trap." The transition from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles demonstrates the dangers of hesitating to embrace the new. New markets are often enabled by technological change and exploited by minds that can envision futures that are far different from the status quo. More so, they are convinced that such a future must happen.

Issue Date
2018-03
Publisher
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Keywords(Author)
Electric vehicles; Automotive Industry; Business Development; Innovation Management; Technology Innovation; Tradeoffs; Technological change; Transitions; Emerging markets
URL
https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/the-hybrid-trap-why-most-efforts-to-bridge-old-and-new-technology-miss-the-mark/
Journal Title
MIT Sloan Management Review
Start Page
52
End Page
57
ISSN
1532-9194
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