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The Trade-off Between Efficiency and Learning in Interorganizational Relationships for Product Development


Author Info

  • Maurizio Sobrero

    (Department of Management, University of Bologna, 40125, Bologna, Italy)

  • Edward B. Roberts

    (Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142-1347)


This paper analyzes the performance implications of interorganizational relationships in the development of technological innovations, focusing on the characteristics of the tasks partitioned between a manufacturer and its suppliers in the development of new products. We identify two critical dimensions: (1) the design scope and (2) the level of task interdependency. The design scope dimension characterizes the type of problem-solving activities outsourced by the manufacturer. The level of task interdependency dimension characterizes the influence of any given supplier-manufacturer interaction on other activities within an overall innovation process. Data analyses on 50 supplier-manufacturer relationships drawn from three new product development projects show that the type of problem-solving activities being partitioned and their level of interdependency with the rest of the project are important predictors of performance outcomes of the relationship, controlling for contractual differences. Further, the analyses demonstrate a clear trade-off between short-term efficiency-increasing and longer-term learning-enhancing outcomes.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by INFORMS in its journal Management Science.

Volume (Year): 47 (2001)
Issue (Month): 4 (April)
Pages: 493-511

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Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:47:y:2001:i:4:p:493-511

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Keywords: Product Development; Innovation; Interorganizational Relationships; Efficiency; Learning;


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Cited by:
  1. van Echtelt, F.E.A. & Wynstra, J.Y.F. & van Weele, A.J. & Duysters, G.M., 2006. "Managing Supplier Involvement in New Product Development: A Multiple-Case Study," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2006-047-LIS, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
  2. von Corswant, F. & Wynstra, J.Y.F. & Wetzels, M., 2003. "In Chains? Automotive Suppliers and Their Product Development Activities," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2003-027-LIS, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.
  3. Keld Laursen & Francesca Masciarelli, 2007. "The effect of regional social capital and external knowledge acquisition on process and product innovation," ROCK Working Papers 043, Department of Computer and Management Sciences, University of Trento, Italy, revised 12 Jun 2008.
  4. Echtelt van, F. & Wynstra, J.Y.F. & Weele van, A. & Duysters, G.M., 2004. "Critical processes for managing supplier involvement in new product development: an in-depth multiple-case study�," Working Papers 04.07, Eindhoven Center for Innovation Studies.
  5. Cassiman, Bruno & Di Guardo, Maria Chiara & Valentini, Giovanni, 2010. "Organizing links with science: Cooperate or contract?: A project-level analysis," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(7), pages 882-892, September.
  6. Tom Broekel & Matte Hartog, 2013. "Determinants of cross-regional R and D collaboration networks: an application of exponential random graph models," Working Papers on Innovation and Space 2013-04, Philipps University Marburg, Department of Geography.
  7. Rockett, Katharine, 2012. "Perspectives on the knowledge-based society: An introduction to the special issue," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy, vol. 6(35), pages =1-22.
  8. Lee, Joong-Woo & Abosag, Ibrahim & Kwak, Jooyoung, 2012. "The role of networking and commitment in foreign market entry process: Multinational corporations in the Chinese automobile industry," International Business Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(1), pages 27-39.
  9. Gerwin, Donald, 2006. "Buyer-vendor relations for components: The extreme example of custom integrated circuits," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 35(5), pages 673-690, June.
  10. Simone Santoni & Paolo Ferri & Maria Lusiani, 2013. "Novelty Conduits and Forms of Network Ties: To Bond or to Bridge?," Working Papers 34, Department of Management, Università Ca' Foscari Venezia.
  11. Boehe, Dirk Michael, 2007. "Product development in MNC subsidiaries: Local linkages and global interdependencies," Journal of International Management, Elsevier, vol. 13(4), pages 488-512, December.
  12. van Echtelt, F.E.A. & Wynstra, J.Y.F. & van Weele, A.J., 2007. "Strategic and Operational Management of Supplier Involvement in New Product Development: a Contingency Perspective," ERIM Report Series Research in Management ERS-2007-040-LIS, Erasmus Research Institute of Management (ERIM), ERIM is the joint research institute of the Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University and the Erasmus School of Economics (ESE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam.


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