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Superstores and the Evolution of Firm Capabilities in American Bookselling

Daniel M. G. Raff
Strategic Management Journal
Vol. 21, No. 10/11, Special Issue: The Evolution of Firm Capabilities (Oct. - Nov., 2000), pp. 1043-1059
Published by: Wiley
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3094426
Page Count: 17
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Superstores and the Evolution of Firm Capabilities in American Bookselling
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Abstract

This study considers the transformation of book retailing in America ca. 1970-95. The major transition was less modal sales venues shifting from Central Business Districts to suburban locations than the rise of extremely broadly merchandised 'superstores' and their supporting infrastructure. The paper documents two superficially similar but from a capabilities perspective quite different superstore business models, one identified with Borders and the other with Barnes & Noble. The two companies' key capabilities originated and developed in distinctive ways, one oriented around the management of information and the other around scale. Complementarities and the persistence of core capabilities are striking features of the organizational histories, but so is-over a fairly extended period-evolutionary change.

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