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Variety of Search and Innovation: A Comparative Study of US Manufacturing and Knowledge Intensive Business Services Sectors

  • Cosh, A.
  • Zhang, J.
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    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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    Paper provided by ESRC Centre for Business Research in its series ESRC Centre for Business Research - Working Papers with number wp431.

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    Date of creation: Mar 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:cbr:cbrwps:wp431
    Note: PRO-1
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.cbr.cam.ac.uk/

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    1. Bruce Tether, 2005. "Do Services Innovate (Differently)? Insights from the European Innobarometer Survey," Industry and Innovation, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(2), pages 153-184.
    2. Drejer, Ina, 2004. "Identifying innovation in surveys of services: a Schumpeterian perspective," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 551-562, April.
    3. Barras, Richard, 1990. "Interactive innovation in financial and business services: The vanguard of the service revolution," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 19(3), pages 215-237, June.
    4. Sofka, Wolfgang & Grimpe, Christoph, 2009. "Specialized search and innovation performance: evidence across Europe," ZEW Discussion Papers 09-016, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    5. Garud, Raghu & Karnoe, Peter, 2003. "Bricolage versus breakthrough: distributed and embedded agency in technology entrepreneurship," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 277-300, February.
    6. Tether, Bruce S. & Tajar, Abdelouahid, 2008. "Beyond industry-university links: Sourcing knowledge for innovation from consultants, private research organisations and the public science-base," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(6-7), pages 1079-1095, July.
    7. Shaker A. Zahra & Harry J. Sapienza & Per Davidsson, 2006. "Entrepreneurship and Dynamic Capabilities: A Review, Model and Research Agenda," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(4), pages 917-955, 06.
    8. Barras, Richard, 1993. "Interactive innovation in financial and business services: The vanguard of the service revolution," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 101-102, April.
    9. Grimpe, Christoph & Sofka, Wolfgang, 2009. "Search patterns and absorptive capacity: Low- and high-technology sectors in European countries," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 495-506, April.
    10. Lee Fleming, 2001. "Recombinant Uncertainty in Technological Search," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 47(1), pages 117-132, January.
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