From transaction to transformation costs: The case of Polaroid's SX-70 camera

Raghu B. Garud, Kamal Munir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Innovation in a product's design can have significant implications for the organization of competencies across a production network. Currently, discussions on product designs and the distribution of competencies across production networks are based on transaction costs considerations. However, such a view does not consider the transformation costs that arise when competencies across a production network are reorganized because of design changes. We explore the nature of these costs by examining the dynamics associated with Polaroid Corporation's greatest innovation, the SX-70 camera. Our longitudinal study suggests that it is not costless to redraw the boundaries of a firm. In the SX-70 camera case, Polaroid's relationships with its important stakeholders were adversely affected resulting in a deterioration of its competitive position. From this study, we suggest that it is critical to consider the transformation costs involved with radical innovations in order to gain a more complete picture of change in systemic industries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)690-705
Number of pages16
JournalResearch Policy
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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