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High Growth Firms and Technological Knowledge: Do gazelles follow exploration or exploitation strategies?

  • Alessandra Colombelli

    (University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, and CNRS GREDEG - GREDEG - Groupe de Recherche en Droit, Economie et Gestion - UNS - Université Nice Sophia Antipolis - CNRS)

  • Jackie Krafft

    (GREDEG - Groupe de Recherche en Droit, Economie et Gestion - UNS - Université Nice Sophia Antipolis - CNRS)

  • Francesco Quatraro

    (GREDEG - Groupe de Recherche en Droit, Economie et Gestion - UNS - Université Nice Sophia Antipolis - CNRS, Department of Economics, University of Turin - University of Turin)

This paper analyzes the contribution of high-growth firms to the process of knowledge creation. We articulate a demand-pull innovation framework in which knowledge creation is driven by sales growth, and knowledge stems from creative recombination. Given the established literature on high growth firms and economic growth, we wonder whether gazelles follow patterns of knowledge creation mostly dominated by exploration or exploitation strategies. To this purpose, we derive indicators able to describe the structure of knowledge and qualify firms' innovation strategies. The empirical results suggest that the reality is richer than the interpretative frameworks. Increasing growth rates are indeed associated to exploration strategies, supporting the idea that high growth firms are key actors in the creation of new technological knowledge. But in the meantime, firms showing growth rates significantly higher than the average are able to command the exploration strategies by constraining them within the boundaries of familiar technological competences, suggesting that the exploration process is less random than anticipated. We end up with the result that high growth firms, and especially gazelles, follow predominantly an exploration strategy, but with the characteristics of an organized search which is often more observed in an exploitation strategy.

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Date of creation: 06 Feb 2012
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Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:hal-00666707
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