Capability development in startup and mature enterprises

Hongjia Ma, Chunting Lang, Qing Sun, Deeksha Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to review the literature of enterprise capability, which comprises the three dimensions of operational, dynamic and improvisational capabilities, and analyze their differences. Through this review, the authors aim to enrich the enterprise capability theory and provide some directions for entrepreneurial practice in the face of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA). Design/methodology/approach: The study is based on a systematic review of the literature on enterprise capability as it relates to entrepreneurial firms, following the content analysis approach as described in Gaur and Kumar (2018). Findings: The authors’ conceptual model compares the capability levels of startups and mature enterprises and presents a model for the dynamic evolution of the capability levels of enterprises. In doing so, this study enriches the enterprise capability theory and lays the theoretical foundation for the follow-up empirical research. The authors also provide guidance for entrepreneurial practice in the face of VUCA. Originality/value: In recent years, scholars have begun to explore the issue of enterprise capability in the field of entrepreneurship. However, because of different research perspectives, one lacks clarity on the concept and dimensions of enterprise capability. The capability theory is relatively weak in guiding the practice of enterprises; enterprises lack effective response strategies in a changing environment, and the failure rate of startups is high. This study aims to develop a deeper understanding of enterprise capability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1442-1461
Number of pages20
JournalManagement Decision
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Management Science and Operations Research


  • Content analysis
  • Dynamic capability
  • Enterprise capability levels
  • Improvisational capability
  • Mature enterprises
  • Startups


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