Corbel, P. « Managing Key Capabilities: A Challenge for Nuclear Plant Building Companies », 1ère Conférence internationale sur le déssalement nucléaire, Marrakech, octobre 2002, article publié dans International Journal of Nuclear Desalination , vol.1, n°1, mars 2003, p. 132-142
The nuclear equipment industry faces a paradoxical situation. The use of nuclear equipment to produce energy for civil purpose is both a promising technology, with potentially huge outlets, not only in the field of electricity generation as illustrated by the theme of this conference, and a technology facing a declining demand. One of the key problems is then: how to maintain the capabilities necessary to benefit from the potential revival?
The resource-based view and the dynamic capabilities approach of strategic management have shown the importance of different types of resources and capabilities in gaining sustainable advantage. Successful incumbents in the market of nuclear station building have therefore built that kind of distinctive capabilities that give them a competitive advantage on potential new entrants. But we show that without a permanent activity of plant building, it is almost impossible to maintain those capabilities.
Then, we try to identify those key capabilities. We show that companies in that field use mainly three types of distinctive capabilities: pure technical and scientific knowledge in direct relation with the use of nuclear as an energy generator, competencies in risk management and competencies in large project management, including financing. Finally, we show that although some of those capabilities are used through other nuclear-related activities such as plant maintenance or fuel supply, some of them necessitate to take strategic actions to be maintained. We argue that this should be a priority of nuclear equipment companies managers in the next few years.
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