Restricted (Penn State Only)
Song, Jinyuan
Graduate Program:
Business Administration
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
April 15, 2019
Committee Members:
  • Wenpin Tsai, Dissertation Advisor/Co-Advisor
  • Wenpin Tsai, Committee Chair/Co-Chair
  • Donald C Hambrick, Committee Member
  • Raghu B Garud, Committee Member
  • Vilmos Fosnocht Misangyi, Outside Member
  • Xiaofei Lu, Outside Member
  • nontraditional competitors
  • firms’ attention to competitors
  • managerial career variety
  • newly appointed outside executive
  • broker executive
  • verbal attack
  • behavioral attack
  • competitive tension
In this dissertation, I examine the antecedents and consequences of firms’ attention to nontraditional competitors (including entrepreneurial and outside-industry competitors that are not on the immediate radar of the focal firms) by studying the executive characteristics that shape firms’ attention to nontraditional competitors and the role of this attention in directing firms’ competitive actions in response to such threats. Extending the attention-based view, I argue that executives’ prior experience and network positions are critical in shaping firms’ attention to nontraditional competitors, and that those firms who attend to the new threats tend to act on the competition. Using data collected from the computer and telecommunication industries from 2002–2015, I show that firms that have more executives who have significant career variety, are newly appointed from outside, or occupy network brokerage positions are likely to pay attention to nontraditional competitors. I also find that attention to nontraditional competitors and attention to traditional competitors are driven by different factors. In particular, having more broker executives, the executives who occupy network brokerage positions, is found to have a positive impact on firms’ attention to nontraditional competitors but a negative impact on firms’ attention to traditional competitors. My research also suggests that, compared to firms’ consistent competitive actions taken in response to the competition posed by traditional competitors, there is likely to be a discrepancy between firms’ behavioral (what firms “do” in response to their competitors) and verbal (what firms “say” about their competitors in public) attacks in handling competition from nontraditional competitors. The likelihood of this discrepancy can be reduced if a firm experiences high competitive tension with its nontraditional competitors. My findings suggest an interesting dilemma for firms trying to assemble a top management team that is able to address both traditional and nontraditional competitors and show the different dynamics in responding to traditional competitors versus nontraditional competitors.