Path Creation, Path Dependence and Breaking Away from the Path: Re-Examining the Case of Nokia
The explanation of how and why firms succeed or fail is a recurrent research challenge. This is particularly important in the context of technological innovations. We focus on the role of historical events and decisions in explaining such success and failure. Using a case study of Nokia, we develop and extend a multi-layer path dependence framework. We identify four layers of path dependence: technical, strategic and leadership, organizational, and external collaboration. We show how path dependence at these four interdependent layers can blindfold the organization from seeing and understanding the importance of intermediate outcomes, which in the case of Nokia was the importance of software ecosystems and adaptable mobile devices. Furthermore, we show how the layers of path dependence mutually reinforce each other and become stronger.