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

Author

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  • Cosh, A.
  • Zhang, J.

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Cosh, A. & Zhang, J., 2012. "Variety of Search and Innovation: A Comparative Study of US Manufacturing and Knowledge Intensive Business Services Sectors," Working Papers wp431, Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cbr:cbrwps:wp431
    Note: PRO-1
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. Drejer, Ina, 2004. "Identifying innovation in surveys of services: a Schumpeterian perspective," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 551-562, April.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. 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.
    8. 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, June.
    9. 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.
    10. Lee Fleming, 2001. "Recombinant Uncertainty in Technological Search," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 47(1), pages 117-132, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Roberto Ganau & Eleonora Di Maria, 2014. "Determinants of technological innovation in SMEs. Firm-level factors, agglomeration economies and the role of KIBS providers," ERSA conference papers ersa14p820, European Regional Science Association.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    variety of search; open innovation; SME; manufacturing; Knowledge intensive business services; US survey;

    JEL classification:

    • L25 - Industrial Organization - - Firm Objectives, Organization, and Behavior - - - Firm Performance
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • O32 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Management of Technological Innovation and R&D

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