Major changes in the economic and policy context, firms' culture and technological behaviour : the case of two Mexican breweries.
This thesis addresses two related issues. First, it is concerned with whether and how firms'
technological behaviour changes in response to major alterations in their economic and
policy context. Second, it is concerned with possible differences in how firms respond to
such changes in context, an issue that is examined through exploration of the role played by
firm culture in the variability of responses.
To address these issues this research draws on three bodies of literature related to firm
behaviour, which are based on firm-level empirical research. The first is concerned with
learning and technological accumulation in developing countries. The second is concerned
with the role assigned to the economic, competitive and technological context in shaping
firm strategy. The third body of literature focuses on organisational culture to explain the
differences in firms' behaviour.
The issues of concern in this thesis have been addressed at least partially by these bodies of
literature, in the sense that they all implicitly suggest that if the context changes, then firms
will change their technological behaviour. However, no empirical study has been conducted
that is specifically oriented to addressing the adjustment of firms' technological behaviour to
a major change in the economic and policy context; which behaviour differs between firms;
how they differ; by how much; and at what rate and why. Such questions remain
unanswered.T his thesis explicitly addressesth ese issuest hrough an in-depth case study and
comparative analysis of two large Mexican breweries: Cerveceria Cuauhtemoc-Moctezuma
and Cerveceria Modelo.
The results show that in the face of a major change in context some aspects of firms'
technological behaviour change radically, quickly and in similar ways, particularly those
aspects that are clearly and most immediately linked to the solution of problems related to
business performance. In contrast, other aspects of technological behaviour that are linked to
the long-term processes of technological capability accumulation in the firm displayed a
rather strong resistance to change, and much of the firms' traditional ways of doing things
were continued. It can be concluded that these aspects continued to be stable as a result of
deeply ingrained assumptions underlying the firms' culture, most of which are rooted in the
early experiences of the firms. Such routines and assumptions continue to put their stamp on
the technological behaviour of the firm in response to a new context. In this sense, it is
argued that firm's culture is a major factor in the differences observed between the firms'
technological behaviour in response to the major change in the economic and policy context.