Variety of Search and Innovation: A Comparative Study of US Manufacturing and Knowledge Intensive Business Services Sectors
Whilst the variety of search activities promotes innovation, there is a central tension between a firm's potential benefits from wide and diverse search activities and its ability to reap these potential benefits. In this paper, we argue that the potential and realised benefits from a firm' search activities are influenced not only by its resources and capabilities, but also by the nature of innovation activities at sector level. Drawing upon a statistical analysis of a large scale survey conducted in the US, we examine the impact of a firm's external search strategy along two dimensions (search intensity and direction) on its innovative performance. Our findings suggest that manufacturing firms tend to benefit from wide and diversified search activities whereas knowledge intensive business services (KIBS) firms tend to benefit from narrow and specialised search activities. Furthermore, when taking account of firm size and absorptive capacity, a more nuanced picture emerges. Implications and contributions to the innovation search literature are discussed.
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