The Telecommunications Incumbent: An Endangered Species. Can the Incumbents Provide an Insight into the Realities of Innovation within Large, Mature, Established Organisations?

By Russ Simpson.

Published by The Organization Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In a future of continuing uncertainty when the life span of the average business undertaking appears to be reducing, innovation and adaptation remain imperatives. The incumbent ex-monopoly telecommunication operators have cultures rooted in engineering excellence and share the common inheritances of size, age and complexity. Are these characteristics the source of unique competitive’ advantage or are they insurmountable barriers to change? Can these `Corporate Dinosaurs’ adapt and innovate to meet the challenges of an environment far removed from the one they were designed for?
There are disturbing parallels with civil aviation, another industrial sector where organisations created in an era of regulation and state intervention to exploit a 20th century technology, now face competition from a range of new entrants with significantly different business models. In North America many famous airlines which played a major role in the development of safe, reliable, global aviation have either ceased trading or are operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
This paper argues that over many years the incumbents have developed intangible resources, which if harnessed effectively, could be combined in a unique fashion that will be impossible or costly for a competitor to imitate, so sustaining the incumbents in the 21st century.

Keywords: Innovation, Corporate Culture, Organisational Structure, Organisational Change

International Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp.187-200. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 856.185KB).

Russ Simpson

Benchmarking Manager, Openreach, BT, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, Antrim, UK

Russ is a telecommunications professional employed in Openreach, BT’s specialised division providing network access to all communication providers in the UK. In his current role as Benchmarking Manager he continuously seeks out for implementation best practice in peer organisations worldwide. Russ is undertaking a PhD at Queen’s University Belfast His thesis considers the continued organisational viability of large established mature organisations. His research interests include innovation, business improvement and organisational culture. Russ has an MSc from the University of Ulster and is a Chartered Member (MCQI-CQP)of the Chartered Quality Institute.


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