Knowledge Resources for Taking Market Opportunities

Knowledge resources continuously generate new knowledge by means of the involvement of people, culture, and corporate identity. Trust resources generate and consolidate the firm's position in the market and produce appreciable consequences as customer loyalty and customer retention. The concept of resources was expanded by the concept of dynamic capabilities (Teece & Pisano 1994; Teece et al., 1997) that enable the company to recognize the changing environment and, standing between enterprise and environment, enable enterprise resources to adapt dynamically to changing characteristics of its environment. The dynamic capabilities emphasize sustainable resources that get a competitive advantage in the relationship with the environment in the meantime modified.

The continuous change in the competitive environment can make the company's resources ineffective very quickly, thus demonstrating their static nature—the dynamic capabilities, which represent a management methodology to interpret and dynamically use the available resources, allow the company to identify new sources of competitive advantage and ensure the balanced alignment between the firm's potential and its market needs.

Eminent authors (Hamel and Prahalad, 1990) define competences as the ability to organize harmoniously the resources in order to create a solid core that characterizes a firm in its relationship with customers and competitors, distinguishing standard skills from enabling and distinctive skills:

  • • Standard skills are the conditio sine qua non in order to exist and survive within the industry.
  • • Enabling skills are necessary and sufficient to successfully compete within given well- known conditions. They are important in the short term and / or in a stable competitive environment.
  • • Distinctive skills represent the ability to organize and manage strategically the available resources. They are not easy to acquire and maintain it over time, and they are difficult for competitors to imitate even compared to the most intangible of resources.

Distinctive skills are linked to learning processes that take place within the firm realized by the coordination of technical and production skills. These skills arise from the ability to coordinate, to integrate, to optimize, and to exploit the resources owned by the company. Over the long term, the competitive advantage of a business correlates with its ability to develop distinctive capabilities more quickly and more cost effectively than its competitors.

According to the perspective of the “Market as a Network” (Hakansson and Snehota, 1989; Mattsson, 1997; Hakansson and Ford, 2002), markets and industries can be considered as the relational networks within which businesses and every economic operator compete. Relationships are influenced by the structure of the network and business are the "result" of relationships because they get and exchange resources through the relationships with the actors in the network. We can, therefore, say that the resources are improved with the dynamic capabilities and, in turn, are the basis of the core competencies that are activated and developed with the relationships within the network (Fiocca, 2014).

The best resources for the firm are the external ones. The firm has to know how to identify resources, attract them, and include them in their own set of already available internal resources. Interorganizational relationships act as a vehicle by which the firm attracts the external resources. In this perspective, the ability to attract the external resources and to place them in their own intangible assets creates a distinctive competitive advantage. This is possible only by developing the ability to manage relationships and relational networks that become the real source of the company's competitive advantage and superior financial performance. Each actor in business networks plays a dual role, both as a provider and user of resources (Cantu et al., 2012). So the real distinctive competence of the company becomes the ability to identify, to attract, and to mix the external resources with the internal ones in order to take market opportunities and turn them into value for customers.

The interaction process explains the driving forces that shape different firm and individual behavior in a network: it embraces both economic transactions and social exchanges that can occur in a competitive market.

Thus, a clear understanding of network structure means knowing the forces that determine the structure of an industry, the level and intensity of competition, the position of different firms in a specific value chain, and how companies behave and manage relationships in different market environments (Hakansson et al., 2009).

This is also consistent with the concept of analysis of the food chain. Here it is interesting to note that the issue of mainstreaming of the undertakings in the same supply network in the form of producers' organization is closely related to the analysis and to the understanding structural characteristics of the network previously mentioned.

From the relational perspective, any market structure is the result of a continuous flow of interaction and reciprocal adaptation between the actors and the structure of the relatedness, which generates a complex network, composed of interdependencies between these actors and resources and their activities. Some researchers consider the business relationships between the network actors not only in terms of competition but also in terms of business networking where companies compete in changing the structure of the network through a continuous interactive process (Cantu et al., 2013).

Relationships within networks are developed to create a market differential (a concept that in some ways overlaps with the notion of competitive advantage and key success factors) through the deployment of a firm's assets, which affect its position in a network. Any business relationship has elements both of competition and cooperation. Competitive advantage can derive from the cooperation with suppliers, customers, and other actors, and cooperation can be a means for strengthening a firm's position in the network, even acquiring a superior position over competitors (Cantu et al., 2013).

By joining activities and resources, companies can produce something together that one company cannot achieve alone (Hakansson & Snehota, 1995), where a combination of resources is always a function of the interaction between actors.

Firms can gain benefits from such networking activities as access to external opportunities and resources, critical information, advice and ideas, and enhanced reputation (Hoang and Antoncic, 2003), as well as access to and sharing of expertise and more tangible assets. Firms use relational capabilities to build relational capital with partners. These allow managers to reduce the costs of exchange, optimize the choice of government structure, and internalize specialized knowledge across an interorganizational network. Relational capabilities are also critical in order to support innovation and new product development. They are the lead firm's capability to sustain its innovativeness by creating and managing the overall architecture of its own network over time (Capaldo, 2007).

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