Industry Architecture, the Product Life Cycle, and Entrepreneurial Opportunities: The Case of the U.S. Broadcasting Sector.

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1 Industry Architecture, the Product Life Cycle, and Entrepreneurial Opportunities: The Case of the U.S. Broadcasting Sector Forthcoming Industrial and Corporate Change Jeffrey L. Funk Associate Professor National University of Singapore 1

2 Industry Architecture, the Product Life Cycle, and Entrepreneurial Opportunities: The Case of the U.S. Broadcasting Sector Abstract This paper uses concepts from the literatures of industry architecture and the product life cycle model to analyze the evolution of entrepreneurial opportunities in the U.S. broadcasting sector. Using the literature on industry architecture, it analyzes the specific events that led to the emergence of vertical disintegration and entrepreneurial opportunities where these events impacted on an interaction between capabilities and transaction costs. Second, by analyzing the number of firms in multiple layers, it shows how the numbers of firms depend on economies of scale, the number of submarkets, and the number and size of firms in adjacent layers. The interaction between different layers suggests that more analyses of multiple layers within an industry are needed. 2

3 1. Introduction The extent and manner by which entrepreneurial opportunities emerge and evolve in an industry have been of interest to economic and management scholars for many years. Early research noted the rise and subsequent fall in the numbers of vertically integrated manufacturers in a wide variety of manufacturing industries where this phenomenon was loosely termed the product life cycle model (Gort and Klepper, 1982; Klepper and Grady, 1990; Agarwal and Gort, 1996; Klepper, 1997; Klepper & Simons, 1997). The large and increasing number of firms in the early years of an industry suggests there are large numbers of opportunities for new entrants while the subsequent shakeout in these firms suggests that the number of opportunities quickly declines. On the other hand, the increasing extent to which vertical disintegration is emerging in many industries has led to an increasing interest in so-called industry architectures. Industry architectures are an abstract description of the economic agents within an economic system and they represent the degree of vertical (dis)integration in an industry. Changes in industry architecture can come from technological, institutional, or social changes that impact on the way in which economic agents divide up work (Jacobides, Knudsen and Augier, 2006). In particular, reductions in transaction cost (Williamson, 1981; Langlois, 2006, 2007; Baldwin, 2008) can reduce both the costs of having work done by multiple agents and the importance of integrative capabilities (Jacobides, 2005; Jacobides and Winter, 2005) and thus facilitate the emergence of vertical disintegration and entrepreneurial opportunities (Langlois, 1992; 2003, 2007; Baldwin and Clark, 2000; Arora et al, 2001; Steinmueller, 2003). In spite of this wide agreement that vertical disintegration is occurring and is somehow related to entrepreneurial opportunities, however, empirical research in either the product life cycle or the industry architecture literatures has not documented the interaction between changes in vertical (dis)integration and the numbers of entrepreneurial opportunities, including the causal dynamics and patterns. This prevents us from addressing a number of 3

4 interesting questions. For example, 1) what determines the number of firms that can co-exist in an industry or a specific layer in that industry; 2) what drives increases and decreases in the numbers of these firms; 3) how do entrepreneurial opportunities arise and the size and type of firms change in an inter-dependent eco-system; 4) do opportunities for new entrants continue to emerge even after a so-called dominant design emerges, as the conventional wisdom suggests? This paper uses the history of the broadcasting sector to address these questions. This sector is an appropriate one to address these questions because there have been large changes in this sector s industry architecture(s) over the last 100 years. It first discusses the concepts from the literatures of industry architecture and product life cycle that are used to analyze an evolution in the number of entrepreneurial opportunities in the broadcasting sector. Second, it describes the research context, i.e., the broadcasting sector, and the general methodology. Third, it briefly summarizes the history of the various industries within the broadcasting sector and interprets these histories using concepts from the literatures of industry architecture and the product life cycle. 2. Theoretical discussion The most widely used models of technological change in the management and economic literature are the product life cycle and cyclical model of technological change. Both characterize the evolution of an industry in terms of technological discontinuities, dominant designs, and incremental change (Anderson and Tushman, 1990; Tushman and Rosenkopf, 1992). Technological discontinuities can replace existing products and technologies or they can create entire new product categories (Tushman and Anderson, 1986; Utterback, 1994). In the broadcasting sector, technological discontinuities such as radio, television (broadcast, cable, and satellite), and pre-recorded videos can be defined as new product categories or even new industries within the broadcasting sector. 4

5 Focusing just on the product life cycle model, much of this research analyzes the entry and exit of vertically integrated manufacturers of final products (Gort and Klepper, 1982; Klepper and Grady, 1990; Agarwal and Gort, 1996; Klepper, 1997; Klepper & Simons, 1997), thus ignoring the issue of vertical scope in an industry. The conventional wisdom in the technology management (Utterback, 1994; Suarez and Utterback, 1995) and entrepreneurship (Bygrave and Zacharakis, 2003; Shane, 2004; Baron and Shane, 2005) literatures is that the emergence of a dominant design in a single industry leads to a decline, i.e., a shakeout, in the number of these firms through mergers, acquisitions, and exits where these shakeouts occur even when the total market continues to grow rapidly (Gort and Klepper, 1982; Klepper and Grady, 1990; Agarwal and Gort, 1996; Klepper, 1997; Klepper & Simons, 1997). For example, there were large shakeouts in the number of automobile and television manufacturers firms even while the markets for these products were growing rapidly in the 1920s and 1950s respectively and have continued to grow since then (Klepper and Simons, 1997). On the other hand, the literatures on modular design, interface standards, other research on the product life cycle, and industry architecture imply (or sometimes suggest) that the emergence of dominant designs does not lead to a shakeout in the number of firms and in fact certain kinds of dominant designs can lead to increases in the number of firms and thus the number of entrepreneurial opportunities. Modular designs are those in which the interfaces that determine how the functional components or modules in a product or process design will interact are specified to enable the substitution of component variations within the design (Ulrich, 1995; Sanchez and Mahoney, 1996; Brusoni and Prencipe, 2001). The term standard or interface standard (Farrell and Saloner, 1985; Shapiro and Varian, 1999) is often used to define the way in which these different modules interact, particularly when products from different firms are compatible with the same interfaces. In the technology management literature, many interface standards (and modular designs) 5

6 are defined as dominant designs because specific interfaces often determine key aspects of the product architecture (Henderson and Clark, 1990; Tushman and Rosenkopf, 1992; Murmann and Frenken, 2006) and because these interface standards are easier to specify than are the entire architecture. For the broadcasting sector, interface standards are defined as dominant designs for television (Anderson and Tushman, 1990; Utterback, 1994; Suarez and Utterback, 1995; Suarez, 2004) and for pre- recorded movies (Cusumano et al, 1992). For other sectors, examples of interface standards that are defined as dominant designs include standard interfaces between fax machines (Baum et al, 1995), between telephone receivers and networks (Steinmueller, 2003), between routers and servers through for example TCP/IP (Kenney, 2003), and between operating systems, processors, and application software in the IBM or Wintel computers (Baldwin and Clark, 2000). The fact that these interface standards are defined as dominant designs suggests that the greater the extent to which dominant designs with standard open interfaces emerge, the greater the extent to which new entrants may specialize in specific modules and thus occupy new positions in vertically disintegrated layers of the industry. Other research on the product life cycle also supports the notion that the emergence of dominant designs does not lead to a shakeout in the number of firms. Klepper (1997) demonstrates that economies of scale in R&D explain shakeouts in many manufacturing industries better than does the theory of dominant designs. Second, he concluded that the emergence of independent equipment and process technology suppliers reduces the need for scale in R&D by product manufacturers (i.e., an adjacent layer), creates entrepreneurial opportunities for these product manufacturers, and thus prevents a shakeout in the number of them. This conclusion suggests that the number of firms in one layer can impact on the number of firms, i.e., opportunities, in an adjacent layer. Third, he (Klepper, 1997) also concluded that the existence of submarkets (Klepper and Thompson, 2006) prevents a shakeout in the number of final manufacturers since their 6

7 existence reduces the advantages of scale in R&D and others argue the existence of these submarkets supports the emergence of vertical disintegration (Schilling, 2000). For example, one analysis found contract manufacturing is used more in industries with heterogeneous (i.e., existence of submarkets) than homogeneous outputs (Schilling and Steensma, 2001). Others argue that a division of labor between standard platforms (Gawer and Cusumano, 2002) and custom products and services is needed more in markets with heterogeneous (i.e., existence of submarkets) than homogeneous users (Lamoreaux et al, 2003; Langlois, 2007). These findings suggest that there may be an interaction between vertical disintegration and the number of submarkets where the advantages of specialization, i.e., vertical disintegration (Stigler, 1951; Pavitt, 1999), and the number of submarkets may be related to the overall size of the market. The framework of industry architectures attempts to pull some, if not all, of these ideas together into a single theory of industry evolution. By focusing on the division of labor in an industry, it enables many of the above-mentioned concepts to be addressed in a more comprehensive and inclusive manner. For example, reductions in transaction costs can come from not only the emergence of modular design and standards, but also from governments (or legal systems) requiring the un-bundling of products or restricting a firm s ownership/market share in a market (Arora et al, 2001; Caves, 2002; Steinmueller, 2003). Second, such reductions in transaction cost can facilitate not only the easy bundling of physical modules but also the easy exchange of complementary assets where the most profitable firms often succeed in creating mobility in other firms assets (Jacobides, Knudsen and Augier, 2006). Third, these changes emerge from not only top-down processes that are emphasized by the literatures on modular design and standards (Langlois and Robertson, 1992; Sanchez and Mahoney, 1996; Baldwin and Clark, 2000; Langlois, 2003) but also from bottom-up processes (Jacobides, 2005; Jacobides and Winter, 2005). On the other hand, concepts from the literature on product life cycle model such as the number of entrants and exits, shakeouts 7

8 in the number of firms, economies of scale in R&D and other activities, submarkets, and vertical disintegration in adjacent layers also need to be considered in order to better understand the causal dynamics and patterns within industries and between different layers in an industry. This is a major goal of this paper. 3. Research Context and Methodology Commercial radio was the first industry to emerge in the broadcasting sector where so-called amplitude modulation (AM) was used to broadcast signals in the 1920s. Subsequent technological changes came in the form of FM (frequency modulation) radio, television (broadcast, cable, and satellite), and pre-recorded videos. All of these changes can be defined as technological discontinuities (Bilby, 1986; Sobel, 1986; Inglis, 1991; Sterling, 2001). Because similar industry architectures exist for AM and FM radio, they are considered together thus leaving five discontinuities. Each of these five technological discontinuities created new product categories and thus they can be considered new industries that continue to co-exist with each other. Although the fact that these industries co-exist with each other might cause one to argue that their emergence has created many entrepreneurial opportunities, much fewer opportunities would exist if vertical disintegration had not emerged for these industries, which did not initially emerge outside of the U.S. (Noam, 1991; Briggs and Burke, 2002). For each of the five industries/discontinuities, this paper used the literature on the broadcasting sector and the case study methodology (Eisenhardt, 1989) to identify the vertically disintegrated layers and the events that led to the emergence or elimination of these vertically disintegrated layers. The relevant literature includes academic papers and books from the management, economic, and historical fields, practitioner-oriented accounts, and encyclopedic histories, which are cited in the next section. For radio broadcasting, a key source was Leblebici et al s (1991) analysis, which covered the emergence of vertical 8

9 disintegration in more detail than does this paper. Using the notion of a cross-pattern search (Eisenhardt, 1989), the emergence of vertical disintegration in each of the five industries was analyzed in terms of a variety of different events and these events were compared across the different industries. After identifying the different levels of vertical integration in each industry, data were collected on the number of firms in each vertically disintegrated layer. While many research are concerned with whether these firms are incumbents or new entrants (Henderson and Clark, 1990), this paper is primarily concerned with the total number of opportunities and defines this as the total number of firms in an industry or in a specific layer of that industry. The primary source for the number of broadcasters and cable and satellite television providers (and revenues) is Sterling and Kittross (2001). Drawing from a large variety of sources including the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), they provide about 50 pages of data on the number of firms mostly in the form of tables. More recent data was obtained from Hazlett (2004) and the National Cable Television Association (NCTA, 2006) and these data are consistent with the data from Sterling and Kittross (2001). For other layers, data on the number of firms was obtained for television programming/movie production (Storper and Christopherson, 1987; Scott, 2002), for video rental outlets (and revenues) (Klopfenstein, 1989; Gomery, 2000c), and for manufacturers of radio (Leblebichi et al, 1991), television (Klepper and Simons, 1997), and video recording and playback hardware (Cusumano et al, 1992). Both Storper and Christopherson (1987) and Scott (2002) obtained their data from U.S. Census publications. Furthermore, other sources were used to check the number of television programming and movie production firms and the number of submarkets in them (Sterling and Kittros, 2001; Gomery, 2000c; Hazlett, 2004). Third, as with the events that led to the emergence of vertical disintegration, the evolutions in the numbers of firms in each of the vertically disintegrated layers were also analyzed using Eisenhardt s (1989) cross-pattern search. Different combinations of the 9

10 theories summarized in the second section were applied to each of the vertically disintegrated layers in the five industries in order to find a consistent and credible explanation for the evolution in entrepreneurial opportunities. In the following section, each of the five industries is covered in separate sub-sections where short summaries of their histories are followed by short interpretations from a theoretical perspective. Fourth, this paper looked at whether the numbers of these firms continued to increase even after a so-called dominant design emerges, which is one of the theories summarized in the second section. It did this by comparing their dates of emergence with the numbers of firms where the specific dominant designs have been either specified by the technology management literature or are defined by the author in terms of interface standards. 4. Evidence and Interpretation Tables 1 and 2 summarize the technological discontinuities that have occurred in the broadcasting sector between the 1920s and the 1990s. Table 1 summarizes the events that have led to the emergence of vertical disintegration where an asterisk is placed next to those events that are usually characterized as dominant designs. Table 2 summarizes the leading firms and methods of value capture (i.e., business model) for each discontinuity. Figures 1 (and 2) summarize the changes in vertical disintegration, particularly in the programming side of the industry. Since different firms have pursued different levels of vertical disintegration and thus created different boundaries for their activities, multiple types of firms are shown in some of these vertically disintegrated layers. Solid lines separate the layers and dotted lines are used when the same vertically disintegrated layer continues over multiple time periods. These details are discussed in the subsequent sub-sections. Figures 3, 4, and 5 summarize the growth in revenues and the number of firms for selected technological discontinuities (FM and AM radio are combined) and vertically disintegrated layers. Each technological discontinuity and the vertical disintegration that has 10

11 occurred within them have provided opportunities for entrepreneurs where the amount of revenues, numbers of firms, and thus entrepreneurial opportunities quickly moved from hardware to programming/advertising following each discontinuity. The revenues from radio and television advertisements passed those from the manufacture of radio and televisions in the late 1920s and mid-1950s respectively and the revenues from video rental/sales passed those from the manufacture of video recorders/players in the late 1980s. The number of programming-related companies (e.g., local broadcasters, program producers, cable systems, and video rental stores) also quickly exceeded the number of manufacturers for each technological discontinuity. The following sub-sections also discuss data for other layers. Place Tables 1 and 2 and Figures 1 through 5 about here 4.1 Radio Broadcasting The possibility of commercial radio emerged in the early 20 th century as frequencies were regulated in the Radio Act of 1912, the prices of receivers and transmitters dropped, licenses were issued by the Department of Commerce beginning in 1920, and vacuum tubes were included in most radio sets by 1922 (Bilby, 1986; Sobel, 1986; Lewis, 1991). The first major business questions for commercial radio concerned the business model: how could firms capture value and how should they divide up the work? The U.S. was one of the few countries that did not create a single national provider of commercial radio services and fund this provider with monthly fees on radio users. Instead, the U.S. government divided the country into hundreds of markets, licensed multiple firms in each of these markets, and restricted the number of licenses that a single firm could own. From these different broadcasters and their different approaches, the business model of advertising emerged, beginning with the first broadcasted advertisements in 1921 (Bilby, 1986; Sobel, 1986; Leblebici et al, 1991). 11

12 Initially manufacturers and retailers of radios operated these stations and financed their operations with profits from the sale of radios, which resulted in the high level of vertical integration shown in Figure 1 (See column labeled Radio: Early 1920s ). In 1923 about two-thirds of radio stations with known ownership were operated by manufacturers (47%) or retailers (20%) of radio receivers (Leblebici et al, 1991). However, the number of manufacturers quickly dropped from a peak of 748 (between 1923 and 1926) to 72 in 1927 and 18 by the end of 1934 (Leblebici et al, 1991) thus limiting the number of manufacturers that could vertically integrate into broadcasting. During this time period, David Sarnoff of RCA introduced a new form of business model that dominated the industry for many years. He recognized that local broadcasters would have trouble financing the high cost of radio programs because their markets were small and because it was initially difficult to attract local advertisers. His solution was for so-called network broadcasters (e.g., RCA created NBC) to work with advertising agencies (which represented national advertisers) to finance the production of programs and to distribute them to local broadcasters over AT&T s telephone lines as shown in Figure 1 (See column labeled Radio: 1920s to 1940s). Although AT&T wanted to enter the radio business itself and thus initially resisted RCA s offers, it agreed to do so in July 1926 under legal and regulatory pressure from RCA and the U.S. Government (Sobel, 1986: Bilby, 1986; Lewis, 1991). This agreement and the emergence of network providers created opportunities for thousands of entrepreneurs to form local broadcasting companies where they obtained programs and advertising revenues from network broadcasters such as NBC and later CBS and ABC. Evidence for the success of this business model is seen in the increasing number of local broadcasters that were affiliated with a network broadcaster. This figure rose from 6% in 1927 to a peak of 97% in 1947 (Leblebici et al, 1991; Sterling and Kittross, 1990). The second major business decision for commercial radio was how to organize the production of radio programs. NBC (and later the other two networks) outsourced most of its 12

13 program production and responsibility for financing this production to advertising agencies (and thus advertising agencies fill half the production layer in the column entitled Radio: 1920s to 1940s in Figure 1). Advertising agencies worked with sponsors to conceptualize and develop programs and then the advertising agencies outsourced this production to other firms. Advertising agencies decided against producing programs themselves in order to focus their attention on the choice of advertising (radio, newspapers, magazines, and billboards) for their clients and in order to utilize the capabilities that were already available from other forms of entertainment. This outsourcing also created entrepreneurial opportunities for independent producers, talent agents, transcription syndicates (Leblebici et al, 1991), and other entrepreneurs (Hilmes, 1990), which represent more detailed levels of vertical disintegration than are shown within the block labeled Ad Agencies in Figure 1. These firms collaborated to produce music (played by live bands), drama, talk, and variety shows where these genres reflect the emergence of numerous submarkets for radio programs (See Table 3) (Leblebici et al, 1991; Sterling and Kittross, 1990). Place Table 3 about here A number of events and trends led to changes in this sourcing of programs in the 1950s (See column in Figure 1 labeled Radio: from 1950s). First, restrictions on playing phonograph records on the radio were rescinded in a legal decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in 1940 and by the early 1950s most record companies had realized that playing records on the radio increased, rather than decreased, the sales of phonograph records (Millard, 1995). Second, the start of television in the late 1940s further promoted music as the preferred content for radio as many of the dramas, comedies and other radio programs moved to television. Third, the start of television also opened up opportunities for local sponsors as many of the national ones moved to television and as a growth in rating agencies made it 13

14 unnecessary for local (or national) advertisers to fund a complete program; by 1960 almost 62% of advertising was local (Sterling and Kittross, 1990). Together these events caused the percentage of stations affiliated with a network to fall from its peak of 97% in 1947 to 33% by 1960 and continue falling where music became the preferred content for the unaffiliated local stations (Sterling and Kittross, 1990). The emergence of music as the new form of programming content coincided with the emergence of FM radio. FM radio provides better sound quality than does AM radio for rock-and roll music, which emerged at about the same time FM radio stations began offering services in the 1950s (Millard, 1995). Both the new licenses that were made available for FM radio and the new submarkets that emerged for rock-and roll music created new entrepreneurial opportunities for local broadcasters and other firms. Each music segment required different kinds of disc jockeys (which formed the personality of a station) and different relationships with music companies, sponsors, and market research agencies (Leblebici et al, 1991) where opportunities in each of these layers continued to increase throughout the second half of the 20 th century (Sterling and Kittross, 1990). In summary, from a theoretical perspective, network broadcasters focused on a set of capabilities (Jacobides and Winter, 2005) and a standard platform (Gawer and Cusumano, 2002) for these capabilities that enabled them to dominate the industry through relationships with local broadcasters and other firms. They focused on relationships partly because there were large demand-based (Shapiro and Varian, 1999) economies of scale (Klepper, 1997) in these relationships and the numbers of licenses in the largest markets (3 to 4) basically restricted the number of network broadcasters that could co-exist. They directly controlled the local broadcasters and advertising agencies and to a lesser extent controlled the sponsors and program producers through both direct and indirect relationships with them. They indirectly controlled the sponsors and program producers through the advertising agencies that already had relationships with sponsors and that outsourced program production to existing providers 14

15 of entertainment services. Put in other terms, the network broadcasters created mobility (Jacobides, Knudsen and Augier, 2006) in local broadcasters, advertising agencies, and program producers in order to increase the value of their resources and capabilities. Falling transaction costs (Jacobides and Winter, 2005) also impacted on the industry architecture for commercial radio broadcasting. The choice of a frequency band and a rudimentary standard reduced the costs of matching transmitters and receivers and created entrepreneurial opportunities for local broadcasters, radio manufacturers, and other firms in the 1920s spite of the fact that interface standards are often defined as dominant designs 1. Second, legal and regulatory action against AT&T reduced the costs of distributing programs from network to local broadcasters. In combination with the emergence of a rating system, these actions enabled the importation of radio programs from an existing network of entertainment firms through advertising agencies. Third, the 1940-ruling that playing records on air doesn t violate copyrights enabled local broadcasters to import content from another existing set of entertainment firms, the music companies. Finally, the concepts of economies of scale and submarkets (Klepper, 1997) better explain the numbers of firms in each layer than does a dominant design (Utterback, 1994). There were larger economies of scale for network broadcasters, telephone providers (i.e., AT&T), and radio manufacturers than there were for local broadcasters, program producers, and advertising agencies and more firms were able to exist in the latter than the former vertically disintegrated layers. These larger economies of scale are partly from higher fixed assets and partly from the larger number of submarkets for the latter than the former layers and these submarkets reduced the economies of scale in R&D (Klepper, 1997) for firms in the latter layers. While the program producers and advertising agencies were faced with many submarkets for programs and sponsors respectively, the local broadcasters were faced with 1 Even if the inclusion of vacuum tubes in radio sets (Rosenkopf and Tushman, 1993) is defined as a dominant design, the growth in the numbers of firms in most layers continued to increase following the emergence of these radio sets in

16 many geographically different submarkets. 4.2 Television Broadcasting The possibility of commercial television emerged in the 1930s and 1940s (WWII delayed the start in growth by several years) as technical problems were solved and standards were chosen where the basic business model for television was borrowed from the radio industry. Government rules restricting the number of broadcasting stations that a firm could own and the small size of local broadcasting markets caused network broadcasters to provide the local broadcasters with both programs and advertisements. The network broadcasters distributed these programs through AT&T s telephone lines where AT&T s implementation of coaxial cable made this technically possible. With the higher cost of television than radio programs, local broadcasters became affiliated with network broadcasters much faster and stayed with them longer in television than they did in radio (Sterling and Kittross, 1990). Sourcing the programs and advertisements has been a major issue for the network broadcasters. Initially, as with radio, network broadcasters outsourced program production to the advertising agencies, which found single sponsors for programs and outsourced the program production to other firms. This industry architecture is summarized in Figure 1 (see column entitled Television: 1940s and 1950s). But as the number of hours and the cost of programming increased, it became difficult for advertising agencies (and network broadcasters) to find enough sponsors that were capable of financing a complete program for a single year. This caused the network broadcasters to begin using multiple sponsors for a single program over a year and even for a single 30- or 60-minute program thus increasing the use of so-called spot advertising. Programs sponsored by a single firm had dropped to 14% by 1960 and spot advertisements, as a percentage of total advertisements, had reached 27.4% in 1957 or almost double the figure in 1949 (Sterling and Kittross, 1990). The increased use of both multiple sponsors and spot advertising caused the network 16

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