Photo of Daniel A Levinthal

Daniel A Levinthal

Reginald H. Jones Professor of Corporate Management

Chair, Management Department

Research Interests: industry evolution, organizational learning, technological competition

Links: CV

Contact Information

Address: 3207 SH-DH, 3620 Locust Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: (215) 898-6826



PhD, Stanford University, 1985; BA, Harvard University, 1979

Academic Positions Held

Wharton: 1989-present (named Reginald H. Jones Professor of Corporate Management, 2005)
Chairperson, Management Department, 2001-2010
Named Julian Aresty Professor of Management, 1999-2005
Previous appointment: Carnegie Mellon University

Other Positions

Systems Analyst, Decision Analysis Group, SRI International, 1978-79

Professional Leadership

Editor-in-Chief, Organization Science 2010-present
Editor, Industrial and Corporate Change, 2010-present
Department Editor for Business Strategy, Management Science, 2000-present


  • Alessandro Marino, Daniel A Levinthal (Working), Opening up the Black-box of Evolutionary Theories of Organization: Towards an Internal Ecology of Organizational Evolution.
  • G. Gavetti, H. Greve, Daniel A Levinthal, W. Occasio (Forthcoming), Behavioral Theory of the Firm: Assessment and Prospects, The Academy of Management Annals  Abstract
  • Massimo Warglien, Michael D. Cohen, Daniel A Levinthal (Working), Collective Performance: Modeling the Interaction of Habit-based Actions.
  • H. Posen, Dirk Martignoni, Daniel A Levinthal (Working), Does Size Matter? Organizational Size and the Efficacy of Experiential Learning.
  • T. Knudsen, Daniel A Levinthal, Sidney G Winter (Work In Progress), Hidden but in Plain Sight: The Role of Scale Adjustment in Industry Dynamics.
  • Daniel A Levinthal, B. Wu (Forthcoming), Opportunity Costs and Non-Scale Free Capabilities: Profit Maximization, Corporate Scope, and Profit Margins, Strategic Management Journal  Abstract
  • H. Posen, Daniel A Levinthal (2012), Chasing a Moving Target: Exploration and Exploitation in a Dynamic Environment, Management Science, 58, 587 - 601.
  • Brian Wu, Wan Zhixi, Daniel A Levinthal (Working), Complementary Assets as Pipes and Prisms: Innovation Incentives and Trajectory Choice.  Abstract
  • Daniel A Levinthal (2011), A Behavioral View of Strategy --- What’s the Alternative? , Strategic Management Journal, 32, 1517 - 1524.  Abstract
  • Daniel A Levinthal, Brian Wu (2010), The Rational Tradeoff between Corporate Scope and Profit Margins: The Role of Capacity-Constrained Capabilities and Market Maturity, Strategic Management Journal, 31, 780 - 801.
  • C. Fang, Daniel A Levinthal (2009), The Near-Term Liability of Exploitation: Exploration and Exploitation in Multi-Stage Problems, Organization Science, 20(3): 538-551.    Abstract
  • S. Ethiraj, Daniel A Levinthal (2009), Hoping for A to Z while Rewarding only A: Complex Organizations and Multiple Goals, Organization Science, 20: 4-24.    Abstract
  • P. Ghemawat, Daniel A Levinthal (2008), Choice Structures and Business Strategy, Management Science, 54: 1638-1651.    Abstract
  • Ron Adner, Daniel A Levinthal (2008), Doing versus Seeing: Acts of Exploitation and Perceptions of Exploration, Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, 2: 43-52.    Abstract
  • S. Ethiraj, Daniel A Levinthal, R. Roy (2008), The Dual Role of Modularity: Innovation and Imitation, Management Science, 54: 939-955.    Abstract
  • Daniel A Levinthal, "Understanding the Role of Novelty in Organizational Adaptation". In Explorations in Organizations, edited by J. March, (2008).
  • Daniel A Levinthal, H. Posen (2007), Myopia of Selection: Does Organizational Adaptation Limit the Efficiency of Population Selection?, Administrative Science Quarterly, 52: 586-620.    Abstract
  • Daniel A Levinthal (2007), Technology: The role of network structures, Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, 1: 189-190.  
  • G. Gavetti, Daniel A Levinthal, W. Ocasio (2007), Neo-Carnegie: The Carnegie School’s Past, Present, and Reconstructing for the Future, Organization Science, 18: 523-536.    Abstract
  • T. Knudsen, Daniel A Levinthal (2007), Two faces of search: Alternative generation and alternative evaluation, Organization Science, 18: 39-54.    Abstract
  • Daniel A Levinthal, "Bringing selection back into our evolutionary theories of innovation". In Perspectives on the Economics of Innovation, edited by F. Malerba, S. Brusoni, (2007).
  • Daniel A Levinthal, C. Rerup (2006), Crossing an apparent chasm: Bridging mindful and less-mindful perspectives on organizational learning, Organization Science, 17: 502-513.    Abstract
  • Daniel A Levinthal (2006), The Neo-Schumpeterian Theory of the Firm and the Strategy Field, Industrial and Corporate Change, 15(2): 391-394.  
  • Daniel A Levinthal (2006), Comments on the Resource Allocation Process, From Resource Allocation to Strategy, In J. Bower and C. Gilbert (eds.).  
  • Daniel A Levinthal, "Comments on the Resource Allocation Process". In From Resource Allocation to Strategy, edited by J. Bower, C. Gilbert, (2006).
  • Nicolaj Siggelkow, Daniel A Levinthal (2005), Escaping Real (Non-Benign) Competency Traps: Linking the Dynamics of Organizational Structure to the Dynamics of Search, Strategic Organization, 3: 85-115.    Abstract
  • G. Gavetti, Daniel A Levinthal, J. Rivkin (2005), Strategy-Making in Novel and Complex Worlds: The Power of Analogy, Strategic Management Journal, 26: 691-712.    Abstract
  • S. Ethiraj, Daniel A Levinthal (2004), Bounded Rationality and the Search for Organizational Architecture: An Evolutionary Perspective on the Design of Organizations and their Evolvability, Administrative Science Quarterly, 49: 404-437.    Abstract
  • G. Gavetti, Daniel A Levinthal (2004), Strategy Field from the Perspective of Management Science, Management Science, 50: 1309-1318.    Abstract
  • J. Denrell, C. Fang, Daniel A Levinthal (2004), From T-Mazes to Labyrinths: Learning from Model-Based Feedback, Management Science, 50: 1366-1378.    Abstract
  • S. Ethiraj, Daniel A Levinthal, R. Roy (2004), Modularity and Innovation in Complex Systems, Management Science, 50: 159-174.    Abstract
  • Ron Adner, Daniel A Levinthal (2004), Real Options and Real Tradeoffs, Academy of Management Review, 29: 120-125.    Abstract
  • Ron Adner, Daniel A Levinthal (2004), What is not a Real Option: Considering Boundaries for the Application of Real Options to Business Strategy, Academy of Management Review, 29: 74-85.    Abstract
  • Nicolaj Siggelkow, Daniel A Levinthal (2003), Temporarily Divide to Conquer: Centralized, Decentralized, and Reintegrated Organizational Approaches to Exploration and Adaptation, Organization Science, 14: 650-669.    Abstract
  • Daniel A Levinthal, "Imprinting and the Evolution of Firm Capabilities". In The SMS Blackwell Handbook of Organizational Capabilities, edited by C. Helfat, (2003).
  • G. Dosi, Daniel A Levinthal, L. Marengo (2003), Bridging Contested Terrain: Linking Incentive-Based and Learning Perspectives on Organizational Evolution, Industrial and Corporate Change, 12, 413 - 436.  Abstract
  • Daniel A Levinthal, "Cognition and Models of Adaptive Learning". In Economics of Change, Choice, and Structure: Essays in the Memory of Richard M. Cyert, edited by J. March, M. Augier, (2002).
  • Ron Adner, Daniel A Levinthal (2002), The Emergence of Emerging Technologies, California Management Review, 45, 50 - 66.
  • Daniel A Levinthal, "Modeling Adaptation on Rugged Landscapes". In Simulating Organizational Societies: Theories, Models and Ideas, edited by Alessandro Lomi, Erik Larsen, (2001).
  • Ron Adner, Daniel A Levinthal (2001), Technology Evolution and Demand Heterogeneity: Implications for Product and Process Innovation, Management Science, 47, 611 - 628.    Abstract
  • Daniel A Levinthal, "Organizational Capabilities in Complex Worlds". In The Nature and Dynamics of Organizational Capabilities, edited by G. Dosi, R. R. Nelson, Sidney G Winter, (2000).
  • Ron Adner, Daniel A Levinthal, "Technology Speciation and the Path of Emerging Technologies". In Wharton on Emerging Technologies, edited by G. Day, P. Shoemaker, (2000).
  • G. Gavetti, Daniel A Levinthal (2000), Looking Forward and Looking Backward: Cognitive and Experiential Search, Administrative Science Quarterly, 45, 113 - 137.    Abstract
  • Daniel A Levinthal, M. Walglien (1999), Landscape Design: Designing for Local Action in Complex Worlds, Organizational Science, 10, 342 - 357.  Abstract
  • Daniel A Levinthal (1998), The Slow Pace of Rapid Technological Change: Gradualism and Punctuation in Technological Change, Industrial and Corporate Change, 7, 217 - 247.  Abstract
  • Daniel A Levinthal, "Three Faces of Learning: Wisdom, Inertia, and Discovery". In Technological Innovation: Oversights and Foresights, edited by R. Garud, P. Nayyar, Z. Shapiro, (1997).
  • Daniel A Levinthal (1997), Adaptation on Rugged Landscapes, Management Science, 43, 934 - 950.  Abstract
  • Daniel A Levinthal, "Learning and Schumpeterian Environments". In Organization and Strategy in the Evolution of the Enterprise, edited by Franco Malerba, Giovanni Dosi, (1996).
  • Daniel A Levinthal, "Strategic Management and the Exploration of Diversity". In Evolutionary and Resource-Based Approaches to Strategy, edited by Cynthia Montgomery, (1995).
  • Daniel A Levinthal, J. Myatt (1994), Co-Evolution of Capabilities and Industry: A Study of Mutual Fund Processing, Strategic Management Journal, 15, 45 - 62.  Abstract
  • Wesley Cohen, Daniel A Levinthal (1994), Fortune Favors the Prepared Firm, Management Science, 40, 227 - 251.  Abstract
  • Daniel A Levinthal, James March (1993), The Myopia of Learning, Strategic Management Journal, 14, 95 - 112.  Abstract
  • Daniel A Levinthal (1992), Surviving Schumpeterian Environments: An Evolutionary Perspective, Industrial and Corporate Change, 1, 427 - 443.  Abstract
  • Mark Seabright, Daniel A Levinthal, Mark Fichman (1992), The Role of Individual Attachments in Interorganizational Relationships, Academy of Management Journal, 35, 122 - 160.  Abstract
  • Mark Fichman, Daniel A Levinthal (1991), Honeymoons and the Liability of Adolescence: A New Perspective on Duration Dependence in Social and Organizational Relationships, Academy of Management Review, 16, 442 - 468.  Abstract
  • Daniel A Levinthal (1991), Random Walks and Organizational Mortality, Administrative Science Quarterly, 36, 397 - 420.  Abstract
  • Daniel A Levinthal (1991), Organizational Adaptation and Environmental Selection - Interrelated Processes of Change, Organizational Science, 2, 140 - 145.
  • M. Fichman, Daniel A Levinthal, "Ties that Bind: History Dependence in Professional Relationships". In Research in the Sociology of Organizations, edited by S. Bacharach, S. Barley, P. Tolbert, (1991), 119 - 153.
  • Daniel A Levinthal, "Organizational Adaptation, Environmental Selection and Random Walks". In Organizational Evolution: New Perspectives, edited by Jitendra Singh, (1990), 201 - 223.
  • W. Cohen, Daniel A Levinthal, "The Implications of Spillovers for R&D Investment and Welfare: A New Perspective". In Advances in Applied Microeconomics, Vol. 5: Factors Affecting Technological Change, edited by Al Link, Kerry Smith, (1990), 29 - 45.
  • Wesley Cohen, Daniel A Levinthal (1990), Absorptive Capacity: A New Perspective on Learning and Innovation, Administrative Science Quarterly, 35, 128 - 152.  Abstract

Awards And Honors

  • Distinguished Scholar, Organizational and Management Theory Division of the Academy of Management, 2010
  • Fellow of the Academy of Management, 2010
  • Honorary Doctorate, University of Southern Denmark, 2010

In The News

Knowledge @ Wharton



  • MGMT611 - Managing Established Enterprises

    The management of large, established enterprises creates a range of multi-facet challenges for the general manager. A general manager needs to understand the internal workings of a firm, how to assess and create a strategy,an how to take into account increasing, globalization. While these issues are distinct, they are very much intertwined. As a result, this course will provide you with an integrated view of these challenges and show you that successful management in the 21st century requires a combination of insights drawn from economics, sociology, psychology and political economy.

  • MGMT654 - Competitive Strategy

    This course focuses on the competitive strategy of the firm, examining issues central to its long- and short-term competitive position. The course develops a set of analytical frameworks that enable students to explain performance differences among firms and that provide a structure for strategic decisions to enhance firms' future competitive positions. The first module of the course analyzes strategy at the business unit level, introducing tools of industry analysis and competitive positioning. The later part of the course considers corporate strategy, examining the economic logic for firms to diversify across businesses and for vertical integration decisions across stages of the industry value chain.


  • MGMT900 - Economic Foundations of Management

    This course examines some of the central questions in management with economic approaches as a starting point, but with an eye to links to behavioral perspectives on these same questions. It is not a substitute for a traditional microeconomics course. Economics concerns itself with goal directed behavior of individuals interacting in a competitive context. We adopt that general orientation but recognize that goal directed action need not take the form of maximizing behavior and that competitive processes do not typically equilibrate instantaneously. The substantive focus is on the firm as a productive entity. Among the sorts of questions we explore are the following: What underlies a firms capabilities? How does individual knowledge aggregate to form collective capabilities? What do these perspectives on firms say about the scope of a firms activities, both horizontally (diversification) and vertically (buy-supply relationships)? We also explore what our understanding of firms says about market dynamics and industry evolution, particularly in the context of technological change.

    A central property of firms, as with any organization, is the interdependent nature of activity within them. Thus, understanding firms as "systems" is quite important Among the issues we explore in this regard are the following. Organizational "systems" have internal structure, in particular elements of hierarchy and modularity. Even putting aside the question of individual goals and objectives and how they may aggregate, the question of organizational goal is non-trivial. To say that a firms objective is to maximize profits is not terribly opera tional. How does such an overarching objective get decomposed to link to the actual operating activities of individual subunits, including individuals themselves. This issue of goals has links to some interesting recent work that links the valuation process of financial markets to firm behavior. Financial markets are not only a reflection of firm value, but may guide firms initiatives in sys tematic ways.