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The Application of External Knowledge: Organizational Conditions for Exploration and Exploitation

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  • Paul E. Bierly
  • Fariborz Damanpour
  • Michael D. Santoro
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    Abstract

    A firm's ability to acquire and exploit external knowledge is often critical to achieving and sustaining a competitive advantage. In this study, we adopt a multi-dimensional view of absorptive capacity and focus specifically on the application of external knowledge that has been obtained via university-firm collaborations. We examine various organizational conditions that we propose influence a firm's ability to apply external knowledge for explorative and exploitative innovations. We collected data by a survey of firms in industries that frequently work with university research centres (URCs) and from publicly available sources. Results show that predictors of exploration and exploitation of the application of external knowledge differ. Surprisingly, technological relatedness, a common measure of absorptive capacity, is negatively associated with the application of external knowledge to explorative innovations, indicating that knowledge from more distant sources is applied more to exploration. Results also indicate that the effects of two external learning capabilities (prior experience with URCs and technological capability) on knowledge application are moderated in such a way by the tacitness of the knowledge transferred that experience is a stronger predictor when the knowledge is more explicit and technological capability is a stronger predictor when the knowledge is more tacit. We discuss the implications of these findings for research on the application of external knowledge. Copyright (c) Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2009.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Journal of Management Studies.

    Volume (Year): 46 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 3 (05)
    Pages: 481-509

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    Handle: RePEc:bla:jomstd:v:46:y:2009:i:3:p:481-509

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    Cited by:
    1. Meyer, John & Subramaniam, Mohan, 2014. "Appropriating innovation's technical value: Examining the influence of exploration," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 67(1), pages 2860-2866.
    2. Jong, Simcha & Slavova, Kremena, 2014. "When publications lead to products: The open science conundrum in new product development," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(4), pages 645-654.
    3. Liu, C.-L.E., 2012. "An investigation of relationship learning in cross-border buyer–supplier relationships: The role of trust," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(3), pages 311-327.
    4. Raphael Bossong, 2012. "EU Civilian Crisis Management and Organisational Learning," Economics of Security Working Paper Series 62, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    5. Chiara Franco & Alberto Marzucchi & Sandro Montresor, 2012. "Absorptive capacity, innovation cooperation and human-capital. Evidence from 3 European countries," JRC-IPTS Working Papers on Corporate R&D and Innovation 2012-05, Institute of Prospective Technological Studies, Joint Research Centre.
    6. Schön, Benjamin & Pyka, Andreas, 2013. "The success factors of technology-sourcing through mergers & acquisitions: An intuitive meta-analysis," FZID Discussion Papers 78-2013, University of Hohenheim, Center for Research on Innovation and Services (FZID).
    7. Ebers, Mark & Maurer, Indre, 2014. "Connections count: How relational embeddedness and relational empowerment foster absorptive capacity," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 43(2), pages 318-332.
    8. Gabriela Dutrénit & Carla De Fuentes & Arturo Torres, 2010. "Diferencias en la efectividad de los canales de interacción sobre los beneficios obtenidos por investigadores y empresas en México," Documentos de Trabajo (working papers) 2710, Department of Economics - dECON.
    9. Peeters, T.J.G., 2013. "External knowledge search and use in new product development," Open Access publications from Tilburg University urn:nbn:nl:ui:12-5906731, Tilburg University.
    10. Bertha Jimenez & Bojan Angelov & Bharat Rao, 2012. "Service Absorptive Capacity: Its Evolution and Implications for Innovation," Journal of the Knowledge Economy, Springer, vol. 3(2), pages 142-163, June.
    11. Han, Sang Yun & Bae, Sung Joo, 2014. "Internalization of R&D outsourcing: An empirical study," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 150(C), pages 58-73.
    12. Dirk Fornahl & Robert Hassink & Claudia Klaerding & Ivo Mossig & Heike Schröder, 2011. "From the old path of shipbuilding onto the new path of offshore wind energy? The case of northern Germany," ERSA conference papers ersa11p558, European Regional Science Association.
    13. Chiara Franco & Alberto Marzucchi & Sandro Montresor, 2011. "The "potential" face of absorptive capacity. An empirical investigation for an area of 3 European countries," Openloc Working Papers 1106, Public policies and local development.

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