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Overcoming Local Search Through Alliances and Mobility

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  • Lori Rosenkopf

    () (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-6370)

  • Paul Almeida

    () (McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. 20057)

Abstract

Recent research suggests that, due to organizational and relational constraints, firms are limited contextually---both geographically and technologically---in their search for new knowledge. But distant contexts may offer ideas and insights that can be extremely useful to innovation through knowledge recombination. So how can firms reach beyond their existing contexts in their search for new knowledge? In this paper, we suggest that two mechanisms---alliances and the mobility of inventors---can serve as bridges to distant contexts and, thus, enable firms to overcome the constraints of contextually localized search. Through the analysis of patent citation patterns in the semiconductor industry, we first demonstrate both the geographic and technological localization of knowledge. We then explore if the formation of alliances and mobility of active inventors facilitate interfirm knowledge flows across contexts. We find that mobility is associated with interfirm knowledge flows regardless of geographic proximity and, in fact, the usefulness of alliances and mobility increases with technological distance. These findings suggest that firms can employ knowledge acquisition mechanisms to fill in the holes of their existing technological and geographic context.

Suggested Citation

  • Lori Rosenkopf & Paul Almeida, 2003. "Overcoming Local Search Through Alliances and Mobility," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 49(6), pages 751-766, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:inm:ormnsc:v:49:y:2003:i:6:p:751-766
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.49.6.751.16026
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Rosenkopf, Lori & Tushman, Michael L, 1998. "The Coevolution of Community Networks and Technology: Lessons from the Flight Simulation Industry," Industrial and Corporate Change, Oxford University Press, vol. 7(2), pages 311-346, June.
    2. Adam B. Jaffe & Manuel Trajtenberg & Rebecca Henderson, 1993. "Geographic Localization of Knowledge Spillovers as Evidenced by Patent Citations," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 577-598.
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    4. Jaffe, Adam B., 1989. "Characterizing the "technological position" of firms, with application to quantifying technological opportunity and research spillovers," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 18(2), pages 87-97, April.
    5. Hausman, Jerry & Hall, Bronwyn H & Griliches, Zvi, 1984. "Econometric Models for Count Data with an Application to the Patents-R&D Relationship," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 52(4), pages 909-938, July.
    6. Eric von Hippel, 1994. ""Sticky Information" and the Locus of Problem Solving: Implications for Innovation," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 40(4), pages 429-439, April.
    7. Mowery, David C. & Oxley, Joanne E. & Silverman, Brian S., 1998. "Technological overlap and interfirm cooperation: implications for the resource-based view of the firm," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 27(5), pages 507-523, September.
    8. Paul Almeida & Bruce Kogut, 1999. "Localization of Knowledge and the Mobility of Engineers in Regional Networks," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 45(7), pages 905-917, July.
    9. Martin, Xavier & Mitchell, Will, 1998. "The influence of local search and performance heuristics on new design introduction in a new product market," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 26(7-8), pages 753-771, April.
    10. Almeida, Paul & Kogut, Bruce, 1997. "The Exploration of Technological Diversity and the Geographic Localization of Innovation," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 9(1), pages 21-31, February.
    11. von Hippel, Eric, 1987. "Cooperation between rivals: Informal know-how trading," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 16(6), pages 291-302, December.
    12. Almeida, Paul & Dokko, Gina & Rosenkopf, Lori, 2003. "Startup size and the mechanisms of external learning: increasing opportunity and decreasing ability?," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 301-315, February.
    13. Lee Fleming, 2001. "Recombinant Uncertainty in Technological Search," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 47(1), pages 117-132, January.
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    Keywords

    Knowledge; Alliances; Mobility; Patents; Localization;

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