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Demand variation, strategic flexibility and market entry: Evidence from the U.S. airline industry

Authors/Editors: Claussen, J.
Essling, C.
Peukert, C.
Published: 2018
Type: Articles in Refereed Journals (International)
Published by: Strategic Management Journal, 39 (11), 2018, 2877-2898


Research Summary

Entry into dynamic environments can be challenging for firms. We study if, and under which circumstances, firms can use strategic flexibility to enter markets with variable demand. In the airline industry, we find broad support for our hypotheses. We observe less entry with more demand variation, more entry of more flexible firms, and that more flexible firms are more likely to enter markets with greater variation in demand. Furthermore, we find that this relationship is especially strong when variation in demand is harder to predict, which suggests that strategic flexibility is most valuable in unpredictable turbulent environments.

Managerial Summary

We show that firms in the airline industry that choose strategic flexibility over operational efficiency are more likely to enter volatile markets. This finding is especially true when future demand is difficult to forecast using historical data. We conclude that strategic flexibility can be a useful complement to investments in business analytics.