Pricing process as a capability: A resource-based perspective

Shantanu Dutta, Mark J. Zbaracki, Mark Bergen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

260 Scopus citations


Strategies following the resource-based view argue that firms can generate rents through value creation. To create value, firms develop and use resources and capabilities that other firms cannot imitate, trade for, or substitute other assets for. Even a firm that has created value, however, may not capture the potential rents associated with that value. To capture rents, a firm must set the right prices for what it sells. Most views of pricing assume that a firm can readily set appropriate prices. In contrast, we argue that pricing is a capability. To develop the ability to set the right prices, a firm must invest in resources and routines. We base our argument on a study of the pricing process of a large Midwestern manufacturing firm. We show that pricing resources, routines, and skills may help or inhibit a firm in setting the right price - and hence in appropriating value created. Our view of pricing as a capability contributes to the resource-based view because it suggests that strategists should consider the portfolio of value creation and value appropriation capabilities a firm uses to create competitive advantage. Our view also contributes to economics because it suggests that strategic decisions about pricing capabilities have important implications for a fundamental economic action, determining prices. Managers in firms without effective pricing processes may be unable to set prices that reflect the wishes of its customers, so the customers may misuse their resources. As a result, resources may be used ineffectively. Our view of pricing as a capability therefore takes the resource-based-view straight to the heart of what is perhaps the central economic question: the best use of resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)615-630
Number of pages16
JournalStrategic Management Journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2003


  • Capability
  • Ethnography
  • Organizational routines
  • Pricing
  • Resource-based view


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