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Absorptive Capacity And Innovation In The Knowledge Intensive Business Service Sector


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  • Andreas Koch
  • Harald Strotmann


Innovative activity is performed to a considerable extent in the service sector, namely within the so-called knowledge intensive business services (KIBS). Particularly emphasizing the role of absorptive capacity, we analyze possible determinants of incremental and radical firm innovation using firm micro data from the KIBS Foundation Survey. The results show that access to knowledge through networking and cooperation is of utmost importance for innovative activity in the KIBS sector. Access to knowledge from universities and research institutions is particularly important for radical innovation, notwithstanding the degree of formality of cooperation. In contrast, access to knowledge from clients or suppliers only has a significant impact on the probability to innovate if the cooperation with these partners is based on formal cooperation via joint projects or formal cooperation contracts. Furthermore, we find empirical evidence for a positive correlation between KIBS firms and clients from the manufacturing sector: these stimulate in particular incremental, but also radical innovation.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal Economics of Innovation and New Technology.

Volume (Year): 17 (2008)
Issue (Month): 6 ()
Pages: 511-531

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Handle: RePEc:taf:ecinnt:v:17:y:2008:i:6:p:511-531

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Keywords: Innovation; Absorptive capacity; Knowledge intensive business services; Networking Technological opportunities; Germany;


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Cited by:
  1. Marco Bettiol & Eleonora Di Maria & Roberto Grandinetti, 2013. "The Evolution of KIBS between Standardization and Customization: The Rise of Combinatory KIBS," DRUID Working Papers 13-08, DRUID, Copenhagen Business School, Department of Industrial Economics and Strategy/Aalborg University, Department of Business Studies.
  2. Antonio Musolesi & Jean-Pierre Huiban, 2010. "Innovation and productivity in knowledge intensive business services," Journal of Productivity Analysis, Springer, vol. 34(1), pages 63-81, August.
  3. Richard Harris & John Moffat, 2011. "R&D, innovation and exporting," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 33593, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  4. Malgorzata Zieba, 2013. "Knowledge-Intensive Business Services (Kibs) And Their Role In The Knowledge-Based Economy," GUT FME Working Paper Series A 7, Faculty of Management and Economics, Gdansk University of Technology.
  5. Leal-Rodríguez, Antonio L. & Ariza-Montes, José A. & Roldán, José L. & Leal-Millán, Antonio G., 2014. "Absorptive capacity, innovation and cultural barriers: A conditional mediation model," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 67(5), pages 763-768.


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