Purpose: Disruptive technologies in the global logistics industry are often regarded as a threat to the existing business models of incumbents’ companies. Existing research, however, focuses mainly on whether technologies have disruptive potential, thereby neglecting when such disruptive transitions occur. To understand the timing of potential disruptive technological change, this paper aims to investigate the elements of the underlying ecosystem shaping these transitions. Design/methodology/approach: Building on the established ecosystem framework from Adner and Kapoor (2016a), this paper constructs four categories of technology substitution to assess how quickly disruptive change may occur in the global logistics industry and defines key technology substitution determinants in logistics to emphasize the role of ecosystems for further consideration into disruptive innovation theory. Findings: Based on the key determinants, this paper proposes first definitions of distinctive ecosystems elements linked to the three types of innovations, namely, sustaining innovations, low-end disruptions and new-market disruptions, thereby integrating ecosystems into Christensen’s (1997) disruptive innovation theory. Originality/value: By developing a framework that conceptualizes the pace of technology substitution, this paper contributes to a more nuanced understanding of how logistics managers and academics can better predict disruptive transitions and develop strategies to allocate resources.
- Disruptive technologies
- Technology substitution