Managing competences in entrepreneurial technology firms: a comparative institutional analysis of Germany, Sweden and the UK
Innovative firms face two major kinds of risks in developing new technologies: competence destruction and appropriability. High levels of technical uncertainty and radical changes in knowledge in some fields generate high technical failure risks and make it difficult to plan research and development programmes. They therefore encourage high levels of flexibility in acquiring and using skilled staff. Appropriability risks, on the other hand, encourage innovative firms to develop organisation-specific competences through investing in complementary assets, such as marketing and distribution capabilities, that involve longer-term employer-employee commitments to building complex organisations. These connections between technology risks and employment policies help to explain why different kinds of market economies with contrasting labour market institutions develop varied innovation patterns. This study focuses on subsectors of the computer software and biotechnology industries in three distinct Europea n countries, UK, Germany and Sweden, that vary in their level of technical change and appropriability.
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